Painting a Bathroom Flooring


One option available for decorating your house is painting your bathroom floors. If the look is old and tired, painting it can give it a fresh look for a reasonable cost. You can paint over wood flooring (be it hardwood or engineered) as readily as vinyl, linoleum, or cement flooring. Consider stenciling a bathroom floor as part of your painting approach. The last step in this decorating process is sealing a bathroom floor to make it durable to the steam and traffic it gets.

The number of bathroom flooring options available today may seem overwhelming — so much so that the idea of simply painting a bathroom flooring is a simple and elegant choice, and maybe more affordable than replacing what you have. Stenciling a bathroom floor, or doing sponge art, can also give a personal and creative touch that no other home will have.

Practically any bathroom flooring can be painted so whether you are painting natural or engineered wood flooring, vinyl flooring, linoleum flooring, or cement, the two primary keys to success are proper surface preparation and the primer coat.
Proper Surface Preparation:
Generally speaking, regardless of what floor you are painting over, the old treatment must be removed or made ready to accept paint.

  • For wood floors, the old varnish or wax must be removed. For stubborn spots, you may need to scrape and sand the areas, making sure to sand with the grain of the wood. For safety sake, use a dust mask and safety glasses before sanding to avoid dust inhalation. After you’ve swept the area and wiped with a damp towel or mop, take the time to pound in the nails and fill the gouges with a wood filler. Finally, clean the floor with a non-wax liquid floor cleaner and allow the floor to dry.
  • Vinyl floors must be cleaned with tri-sodium phosphate, which can be purchased at most stores that sell paint. To remove the glossy finish of the vinyl, sand the floor with 180-grit sandpaper. Even after sanding, you may see dimples on the vinyl because most vinyl flooring is textured by the manufacturer. If this occurs, use a de-glosser, which will remove any remaining texture and will scratch the surface so the paint will adhere better to the floor.
  • Linoleum floors must be cleaned as thoroughly as possible with a floor cleaner and carefully examined for small cracks in the surface. If the linoleum is deeply cracked or is chipping, it should be removed prior to painting. Assuming the linoleum is in good shape, use a medium-grit sandpaper over the entire floor to remove any wax. Sanding also prepares the floor by gently scratching the surface so the paint can adhere properly to the floor. Mop and vacuum the floor thoroughly.
  • Cement must be swept and mopped to remove dust and dirt. Remove all rough spots from the cement, especially if the bathroom is in the basement because drywall paste, glues, or other construction material may be present.

Once your bathroom floor has been properly prepared, the primer can be applied using a roller. A water-based primer should be used for surfaces that will resist paint but in general, an oil-based primer can be used. Consult with the manufacturer if you are unsure which primer to use. Allow the primer to dry in accordance with the instructions on the can. Depending on the condition of the original flooring, a second coat of primer is recommended. If necessary, sand the surface again and apply a second coat of primer.
Now that the bathroom floor has been prepared and primed, it can be painted with two or three coats of satin or semi-gloss paint. Using a roller, paint a strip around the room about a foot from the wall, which should be cut in later with a paint brush. Then, beginning in the farthest corner from the door, paint your way out of the bathroom. Allow the paint to fully dry between coats in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
Adding sponge art or stenciling a bathroom floor will give your it a special and unique feel. This can be a really fun way to be creative and express yourself. Once you’ve applied your creative flair and the paint has had time to dry, apply two topcoats of clear, floor-quality polyurethane varnish. Sealing a bathroom floor after painting it gives durability to the floor so the pattern won’t wear off.
Painting Ideas:

  • Solid color with contrasting paint flecks
  • Solid color with glitter or sequins added as the paint dries
  • Two tone paint (you can buy kits at home improvement and paint stores to make this easy)
  • Stencil a pattern around the edge of the room
  • Stencil a rug pattern at furniture groupings, or at the door
  • Sponge a pattern around the edge of the room
  • Sponge a pattern or design across the floor

Painting your bathroom floor is not the most obvious choice in bathroom flooring options because paint is normally associated with walls. Once you stop to consider the option, however, you may find it the perfect choice for your bathroom. This is one of the most creative flooring options so have fun and create your own style.

22 thoughts on “Painting a Bathroom Flooring”

  1. Can I paint over the water-based Diamond Coat Varathane polyurethane? I stainded a wooden floor then applied the poly finish. After, I didn’t like the color.

  2. Gina,
    You can paint over polyurethane. The best way would be to use a water-based paint as well. However, if you do not seal the paint, it will damage more easily than if you applied a new coat of poly over that also.


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