How to Paint Vinyl Floors: The Budget Friendly Way to Update Floors

Learn how to paint vinyl floors!

My favorite projects are those that are inexpensive and simple, like installing shiplap, painting cabinets, and staining concrete. They usually involve paint because I am constantly amazed by the power of paint. It can make something ugly look pretty, it can make something dirty look clean! I have a major crush on paint.

How to stencil a vinyl floor.

So when my husband told me that he had to go out of town for a few days, I knew that I needed a project! There was only one on my mind. I’ve been wanting to paint and stencil my bathroom vinyl floor since I made a few updates to make my bathroom prettier.

With those updates, the floors were glaringly ugly. Today I’m sharing my tips for how to paint a vinyl floor and add a stencil. This floor stencil makes me smile every day!

Painting Vinyl Floor FAQs

Can you paint vinyl flooring?

Yes! But prep is key for a durable finish. Don’t skimp on the prep work! Clean the floor and then clean it some more. 

I also recommend a top coat for added durability. 

Why Should You Paint Your Vinyl Floor?

  • Painting vinyl flooring is budget friendly. New flooring can be expensive, even for small spaces!
  • Less mess. Ripping out old flooring is messy. So is installing new flooring.
  • It’s much faster. Laying new tile would have taken about a week to complete! That’s a week without a bathroom. Paint is quick for when you want that ugly floor gone NOW.
  • More options in colors and designs. Floor tile options are pretty limited. Paint colors and stencils are not.
  • It’s an easy way to experiment with pattern. If you hate it, paint over it. 
  • It’s fun. Maybe it’s just me, but I love a good paint project.

About the Stencil

I chose the Cadiz Tile stencil from Royal Design Studio. They have so many lovely stencil designs to choose from. This stencil looked like the expensive cement tiles that I love so much. I spent a bit of time researching how to paint a vinyl floor and decided to use a combination of the advice.

If you want to make your own, check out my post on how I made stencils with my Silhouette

How to Paint Vinyl Floors

Supplies Needed

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Prep Work for Painting Vinyl Floors

Thoroughly clean your floors. I started by cleaning the floor as good as I could with sweeping and mopping. When the floor was dry, I swiffered it as well to get any stray dog hairs (because my doggy BFF likes to sit right beside me when I work.)

Is your floor ugly? A stenciled floor is the perfect solution! You can paint that tired vinyl floor with the right precautions! #stenciledfloor #stenciled #paintedfloors #paintedvinyl
It really was this ugly.

Degloss the floor. This is probably the most important step in painting a vinyl floor! I rubbed the deglosser on the floor and let it dry. It made the floor very matte feeling and dull looking. I wore cotton socks any time I had to go in there to prevent my skin from sticking and making weird marks. This also helps to keep the floor clean from skin oils. We have floor vents so I removed the vent to spray paint later. This also helped me paint around the area really well.

Priming the vinyl floor

Prime the floor. I primed the floor with my favorite primer that I knew would work well. When I painted the cabinet, I accidentally got some on the floor and it was still there despite numerous cleanings.  It sticks to everything even if it does stink. (Use ammonia to clean your brushes and don’t use good brushes with this stuff. Chip brushes work fine because it self-levels.)

How to Paint Vinyl Floors

Paint the background color. Once that was dry, it already looked a million times better. Bye bye ugly glitter flowers! I rolled on a coat of the gray floor paint. Painting a floor is surprisingly easy and fast! I let it dry and did one more coat.

Stenciling the design on the floor

Stenciling the Vinyl Floor

Start stenciling. The next day, I put on some podcasts and started the stenciling part. You’re supposed to place the first one in the middle, but I kind of eyeballed it, aligning it with the “tile” lines on the vinyl flooring.

My first stencil turned out horrible! I had over saturated the roller. I considered wiping it off with a towel and painting over it, but I persevered. My next 5 weren’t much better. But I kept going until all of the easy parts were done. Then I was left with the edges.

Don’t worry if your stencils aren’t perfect. It will look great as a whole. Just use way less paint than you think!

Painting the border around the edges of painted vinyl flooring

The edges. For the edges, I tried the folding method and it kept slipping and leaving a big mess. I tried free-handing the designs but I decided that I don’t hate myself that much.

So I took those mistakes and made them birds. Or a border. It looks intentional, adds detail and hides all of the ugly spots. I used tape to get crisp straight lines. I went back and touched up the really obvious mistakes.

When you look at it all together, you can’t even notice the bad parts. I was very surprised at how forgiving the pattern was.

I think the texture of the vinyl flooring made it hard to get perfectly crisp lines, but in the end, it adds to the charm. Some of the stencils don’t line up perfectly and I kind of like the effect. My stenciled floor is so pretty!

Apply a Top Coat to the Floor

After the paint was thoroughly dry, I swiffered the floor again to remove any stray dog hairs and applied a 2 coats of polycrylic to the floor. Polycrylic is my choice because it doesn’t turn yellow and it cleans up easily with water. I used a brush because I prefer brush strokes to foam roller bubbles. In the end, you can’t see the brush stokes anyways. Painting a floor with a paint brush sound painful, but it went really fast.

stenciled bathroom floor

My husband came home and actually liked the floor stencil. I was shocked! It was definitely one of those projects that he would have said no to if I had asked him before I did it.

painted vinyl flooring

I love my new painted vinyl floor!

how to paint vinyl flooring

Stenciled floor tips:

  • A stenciled floor is not going to be perfect so expect some blemishes. All together, it reads as perfect. If you’re a perfectionist, a more organic style stencil might make you happier.
  • Don’t overload the roller. It did best when it felt almost too dry.
  • A good primer will make the paint job last longer. I wouldn’t skip this part.
  • Don’t skimp on prep work. It is the KEY to a long lasting finish.
  • A border is a nice way to not have to deal with the edges.
  • Choose a time when there will not be many other people around. My husband was out of town, which allowed me to be able to work on the bathroom without worrying about him. Luckily, my kids use the downstairs bathroom.
  • If you end up hating it, remember: It’s only paint!

Stenciled vinyl floor

Bonus tip!

Have you ever spilled paint on carpet? I know I have! This project was no exception and I spilled some primer on the carpet. Did you know that rubbing alcohol takes paint right out of carpet? Yep, even my stinky shellac primer! All you do is pour some on the spot and rub it with a clean cloth until it’s gone. It’s like magic!


Curious how my stenciled floor is holding up after a year?

Read my update and my thoughts on this project!

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