Let me preface this by letting you know that if you’re looking for an in-depth tutorial on how to paint your linoleum floors, this isn’t the blog post for you. There are a zillion bloggers before me who have tutorials online already, so instead what you’ll find here is a very top line run-down of my process, some tips and tricks I found helpful, and an honest/frank opinion on whether or not I think it’s a good idea to paint the floors in a high traffic area of your home when you have three dogs and a baby.
The floors in our entryway, kitchen, and laundry room/half bath were the classic greige faux tile sheet linoleum that seem to be in every builder grade home from the ’90s, and immediately after moving in they weren’t really all that offensive.
But as we started to make changes to modernize the downstairs (refinishing the hardwoods, painting the walls white, adding black shiplap, ripping the carpet off the staircase, installing a breakfast bar) the ugliness of the floors just seemed to burn brighter and brighter with every passing day. Last November, when I finally decided to tackle our golden oak kitchen with a mini-makeover, the floors were originally on the to-do list for the space as well. They didn’t get done. I like to blame it on the fact that I was 6 months pregnant and it seemed far too daunting a task, but in reality I think it was mostly because I was hesitant to paint the floors of an area that is so very heavily used. The majority of the painted floors out there are in bathrooms or lesser-frequented areas of people’s homes, and I was not about to believe the bloggers who said their floors were “holding up perfectly”. Yeah right LIARS.
Fast forward to a few months ago, and something inside me snapped. I just couldn’t stand looking at those sad floors any longer and after being fairly dormant in the project sense for the past year, I needed something big to take the edge off. I read a ton of blogs and did a lot of research, but made peace with the fact that with three fairly active dogs they might be ruined within weeks (or so I thought). I decided that they couldn’t get any worse and it was worth the risk. If the paint started to chip, it would simply light a fire under us to save up for new floors more quickly.
So. Here are my “quick tips” for painting your floors without getting into the minutia of the whole process. This is just a list of things to think about before you get started.
Do your research/make a plan.
Make sure you really research the process and products to use, as well as developing a strategic plan for completion. This was probably the trickiest aspect for me since our floors are impossible to avoid if you want to get in and out of our house, and the dogs threw another element to consider into the mix. We had to really plan for when I would be painting/stenciling (ie at night after the baby was down and we could cordon off the pups upstairs) and also meant more pressure to finish up in a tighter time frame.
Some notes on process: I did not use deglosser or sand our floors before priming as some other bloggers have done: I just made sure they were very clean. The clear coat I used is the same one I used over our plywood floors because I knew for sure it was non-yellowing (as long as it is not applied too thickly) and I was able to bang out all three coats in one night because you can re-coat in 2 hours. Boom.
Choose your colors/stencil wisely.
I knew I definitely wanted white to be the main color because the kitchen cabinets were black and it would really brighten up the space. I will say that if you choose to paint your floors white, be prepared for every single little speck of dirt, dog hair, and debris to show. One positive thing about our old floors is that they camouflaged that stuff like WHOA and you could never tell exactly how dirty the floors were (gross?) . We’re now pretty much forced to add a quick Swiffering to the nightly kitchen cleaning routine, which I don’t necessarily think is a bad thing, but it is definitely something to consider before painting your floors white.
Another thing to consider is the square footage of your floorspace in relation to the pattern of your stencil. If you’re simply doing a tiny 50sqft powder room then go ahead and knock yourself out with an intricate design, but I was looking at about 350sqft of floor space and not a lot of time to get it done. I fell in LOVE with Jessica Davis’ floors after seeing them featured on The Kitchn, and knew the simple geometric pattern would be fairly easy to roll on. I used a stencil I made myself that was based on the size of our “faux tiles” (12×12) so I didn’t have to worry about keeping everything straight since the grid lines were already embossed into the floor as a built in guide. I stenciled from about 3pm until 1:30am with a few short breaks and was able to finish the entire floor, for reference. If I’d chosen something with more detail it definitely would have taken a few days at the very least, with a lot of messy bleeding to touch up. No thanks.
Be prepared to live in chaos for at least a week or two.
This sort of only applies to those of you brave enough to paint floors in a main/high traffic area of the house. Make sure everyone is on board with living in a war zone and adhering to a strict “stay off the floors unless absolutely necessary” policy for the duration of the project, and possibly for a while after it’s done. Matt and I were walking lightly on the floors about a day after I finished the final clear coat, but we kept the dogs off of them for an entire month (!) afterwards. We literally piled up junk as barriers to keep them out, but it also made it very difficult for us to maneuver through the area as well which was very annoying. The waiting period was hell but I think totally worth it (I’ll get into that more below).
Ok. So I’ve painted the floors and there is no turning back. Am I happy?
Let me say, as soon as I was finished, I loved the floors more than I ever thought I would. They made such a huge difference and I was honestly elated. I was worried they would look Busch league, but they really don’t.
Suddenly that whole “whatever happens, happens and I’m ok if they start to chip” went right out the window and I knew I’d be devastated if all my hard work went down the tube with the clickity clack of doggy nails. Just one day after I’d put the clear coat on, Tank (my loveable spaz of a dog) busted through one of our makeshift barriers, panicked, and chipped the paint clean off in two spots. I was so, so crestfallen. I’d thought for sure the floors were going to be tough as nails. I started immediately second guessing my decision and envisioned a chippy, trashy looking floor in the very near future. Shit.
So I thought long and hard and scrapped my original plan of keeping the dogs off for a week, and upped it to four weeks. I know that sounds nuts and excessive, but primer and paint cure times are significantly different than dry times. Paint can take up to 30 days before it has truly cured, so I decided to give my beautiful new floors a fighting chance by keeping the dogs off.
Once it was finally time to remove the barriers and let the dogs back on, they spotted a couple walking up the street with their pooch within MINUTES and went haywire, burning it through the kitchen to the front door to bark their little faces off. I was scared to look…
There was…nothing. No chips, no scratches, no gouges. It’s now been almost two weeks and the dogs (mainly Tank) have been losing their shit and running around on them like crazy but so far, so good. My plan is to write an update post about six months out to give a better idea of how they hold up over time, since it’s kinda hard to give an accurate opinion on their durability after only a few weeks.
Let me say that if you don’t have animals (or even if you do but they are smallish/calm), painted floors will stand up if you’ve taken the time to research the process and choose good products. If it were just Matt and I, I’m confident these floors would last for years. Over the past month we have been walking around on them as usual, living our lives, and they are fine. They feel great underfoot and mop up like a dream. About a week ago, I dropped a pair of needle nosed pliers on the floor, and it was fine. I’m now cautiously optimistic that we won’t have to worry about them getting chipped to hell before we can afford to replace them, and the more time that passes the tougher they’ll get.
So yes, I do feel that painting the floors was the right move for us. It was a bit of an emotional roller coaster, but holding my breath every time Matt pulled out a barstool or Billy rolled his dumptruck across it eventually subsided. It was definitely a lot of work followed by a very inconvenient set-up for several weeks, but the results were totally worth it. All in, I spent about $200 on paint, sealer, and other random materials so even if these floors only last a couple of years, I feel that the cost is definitely justified.
So what do you guys think? Something you might try? A lot of wasted effort? Sound off in the comments!