8.10.2020

Painted Floorgate: DIY Painted Laminate Floors




Hello friends. I, like many of you I'm sure, started looking around my house during lockdown and thought, "I'm feeling squirrely what can I try to f*ck up around here"? In my case, we live in an older house we plan to extensively renovate someday ("nOt aNytImE sOon" - husband) so projects do, in fact, abound. I have made out a pretty long but manageable list of home improvements I think I can handle without risk of structural damage or big $$$, and I am tackling them one at a time as my schedule and budget allow. I actually love a DIY. I'm very stubborn, have watched plenty of HGTV and really like to "make" stuff, so I'm dangerous (a liability) in the home improvement arena.
 DIY Stencil Painted Laminate Floor

On to the good stuff! Our kitchen is fine. It's an ok size and layout but it's dated. The uppers were like louvered wood cabinets and I'd already painted the lower cabinets a deep navy - we also ripped out a really obtrusive row of cabinets above the kitchen island. The countertops are/were laminate, but a non-offensive tan and a nice deep sink also tan. Y'ALL I STICKERED the countertops. I'll ultimately do a before and after post but this post will focus on the floors and the process for anyone looking for an affordable, medium-termish update for laminate/linoleum floors. Our floors are a laminate or vinyl "wood" that really was not bad at all but when we moved in we refinished the hardwoods (which are everywhere else) and the stain is so much darker it became an eyesore to me. Like they were fine in the home's old existence. 

My process started when the RUG I was considering for the kitchen was sold out in the size I needed. I had sort of resigned myself to adding a small rug and calling it a day but the Lord had a different plan for me folks. I couldn't get the pattern and color combo  out of my head, so one night (obviously after wine) I started googling ideas for prettying up linoleum floors. I was like can I paint this mess? I found some tutorials and decided that if they could do it, surely I could. 


Before I do the process, indulge me and allow me to give myself and this process a Yelp review! I get 5 stars for effort and 1 star for creating such a pain in my own ass. Long story short, ACTUALLY doing the stuff to repaint your floors isn't that bad. Adding on design or stencil work is a bitch. Adding the design I added means something is wrong with you. My brain is not wired for doing what I had to do to get what ultimately turned out to be (IMO) beautiful floors. 

THE PROCESS

What You Need:

A nice little orbital sander - this is similar to what I have
120 grit sanding paper
A paint roller
A nice paintbrush
Porch Paint - I used a Sherwin Williams-colormatched Valspar paint but I've read good things about this and this
Lint free wipes

For design:
More painters tape L O L
Stencil (here is a cute place and lots of options here) or you can get this stuff to make your own stencil (DON'T DO IT DUMDUM)
Tracing paper (if you're making your own stencil DON'T DO IT DUMDUM)
Small paint rollers and smaller brushes or sponge brushes


1. SAND Sweep your floor, mop it if you want but definitely let it completely dry. Then take your orbital sander and work your way over the entire surface you plan on painting. Make sure you hit all the spots, try to give yourself some visual markers to make sure you're covering the whole floor. I used the lines of the wood "boards" to create sections for myself. Sanding the top layer of the linoleum/laminate will create a rougher surface. You're trying to create a surface to which the paint can adhere well, so you want to get everything. It's not hard at all and doesn't really take that long (obviously depending on how big your space is). 



2. DEGLOSS Clean them floors again. Sweep and wipe down to your heart's content. Then you're going to want to use the deglosser. Again this is all about stripping the surface of things that will prevent the paint from adhering well. If you've ever painted cabinets you know how important this is. You can use an old mop to spread it around (I used lint-free painters' cloths on my Swiffer and it worked just fine) - I poured the deglosser directly on the floor in sections. Then you let it dry. All of the waiting over the course of this project was another thing that made this tough for me. I like to burnnnn through projects during insane fits of motivation. 




3. PAINT Do the normal stuff like taping trim or appliances etc. that you would painting walls and such. I brush-painted the perimeter of the room and under appliances (you're insane if you thought I was moving my fridge). Again, I poured my paint directly onto the floor and worked methodically across the space with the large roller. Plz use common sense and don't paint yourself into a corner. I used Winter's Whisper from the HGTV Sherwin Williams collab as my base blue. I tried a couple out first because I have a very French blueish TV console in the adjoining living room and, as I said, the navy lower cabinets. It took a minute to get a blue that was in keeping with the #rugspo and didn't look awful with the other existing blues. For the design part, I used xxx as the accent blue and SW Alabaster as the white trim - it's what we have throughout the house so I felt that would tie it together nicely. Using porch paint for this project makes sense - you're looking for a paint with superior durability and can withstand pretty regular use and abuse. The Valspar was easy to work with and could be colormatched with no problemos. I've heard that this is another good option if that's not a convenient option. I did two coats of the Winter's Whisper to get the coverage I wanted. I let it dry at least 12 hours between coats for all of this btw. 




Painted laminate floor
Base Coat Completed

4. SEAL If you're just doing solid color you can move to sealing it. Minwax Polycrylic was universally recommended in all the tutorials I saw. It's very easy to apply. You want to be careful in prepping it - don't shake it or stir it violently. If you do that you'll create bubbles that'll show up on your floors and make you sad. Trim the perimeter first and then this can be rolled on just like the paint. I watched multiple YouTube tutorials on this part of the process. I was terrified I was going to ruin all of my hard work. You can roll the Polycrylic on pretty generously, it settles nicely and will dry to a clear finish. I used the Satin finish so it's flat and not shiny. You can coat several times with the sealant, the Polycrylic dries quickly (2 hours-ish) so you can apply multiple coats. I kept people and dogs off of it as much as possible for a day after sealing. I think the longer you let it cure the better. You can shop it here as well. 


5. BUT WHAT ABOUT DESIGN? Well friends, lol I am here to tell you it's an undertaking. Was it worth it? Honestly yes, I think it turned out beautifully but it was one of the hardest projects I've done, and if I hadn't had to seal them because of an event that I of course had at our house I probably would have spent another 2 days on touch up work because I got in so deep. If you have the patience and bandwidth you can end up with pretty fabulous results. I 100% know and admit that my struggles were compounded by the complexity of my design and the fact that I had to create my own pattern. I'm terrible at math. Figuring out the scale and execution was very hard for me, but that's totally about me. The setup could have been much easier I'm quite sure. BUT, I think if you are doing a very simple pattern, like stripes or checker board, or have a pre-made stencil it would be far easier. I found some fun options here if you're looking. 

The process for adding a pattern, as I know it: 
  • My stencil and design required a lot of work, once I created the correct scale and shape for the "medallions" as I came to call them, I used tracing paper to create the template for the stencil. Once I cut that out I then traced it onto this plastic film I found called Grafix Dura-Lar - which I had purchased in a roll at the thickest mm they had in stock. This was critical, once I had the actual template I could work SO much quicker than I had been.
  • Once the stencil had been traced fully onto the floor, I then had to go back with painters tape and outline the inner and outer lines. I had to use small pieces of the same tap as spacers between the 2 lines. It was tedious AF. The tape did it's job though and created really nice, sharp lines. I painted all of the white lines followed all of the dark blue lines (after painting one full medallion as a visual guide for myself - all that tape was maddening). 
  • For this work I used a combination of smaller paintbrush - usually to lay initial paint down - and then the smaller roller brush. I like the smooth finish I got from the roller brush. Once dried overnight I pulled up tape, spent an entire day on touch ups, then moved on to the Polycrylic application. 




  • If you are using a pre-made stencil, your process will likely be different. Make sure you have considered where you want the pattern to start so you don't end up with like, half of the pattern in a high visibility area. Taking a moment to consider this before you start will probably save you some heartburn later on. 
  • Create some sort of guideline on the floor to make sure that your stencil is being laid straight. The last thing you want is to look back at 2 hours of work and see that it's crooked and will ruin the rest of the project. 
  • The next thing to consider is if this is a single or multi-color process. If you are using a single color you can simply lay down your stencil and apply the full color, then move to the next section. If you're doing multi-color you can apply full color and move to the next section OR you could lay down the first color, move to the next section and then come back to each section with every additional color. I'm not sure which I think will end up best, but I think I'd probably do the full color and then move to the next? Either way you'll just need to be meticulous about checking that you are staying on your guidelines and not getting wonky.





Tape helped me keep track of the places that needed touch ups or corrections

6. Let it dryyyy. I know the Polycrylic is a fast-drying product but if you can wait 72 hours to resume normal use, I think you're better off. Again, I was 1000% terrified that I was going to screw up my insanely hard work so I barricaded the kitchen for a few days beyond having a couple of people walk through. 

Polycrylic applied and drying!

Ultimately I will share the full room once I get lighting and shelving finished. Please feel free to shoot me any questions, I'm so happy to share any tips or challenges I missed here. 



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