Can You Refinish Laminate Flooring?

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can you refinish laminate flooring

Laminate flooring is an inexpensive, easy to maintain flooring option for your home. However, like any material, it will start to look dull and over time it will eventually fade.

When this happens, you might start thinking about how you can refinish your laminate. 

It’s entirely possible to refinish laminate flooring and there are quite a few ways to go about it. Knowing how this kind of flooring is made and what it’s made of can help you do the job correctly. 

In this article, we have laid out the best process for refinishing laminate flooring. By following the steps correctly and taking the time to do it right, you can get a nice finished product. 

Refinishing Laminate Flooring: Basic Idea

There are a few different ways to refinish laminate flooring. We have identified the most effective and easiest way and laid it out for you here. 

The steps to refinishing laminate flooring are: 

  • Prep the entire floor
  • Lay down a chemical etcher
  • Thoroughly buff the floor
  • Apply stain to the floor
  • Seal the laminate

What is Laminate Flooring?

laminate flooring

Unlike standard hardwood flooring, laminate is not a solid piece of wood. 

Laminate is usually a piece of particle board that is sandwiched between two pieces of veneer. This veneer then has grain printed on it that has the look of regular wood grain. 

Because of this, you can’t sand down a laminate floor like you can with hardwood. If you sand it down, you will completely remove the grain pattern. 

With hardwood, sanding will leave the grain pattern intact since it goes all the way to the center. 

Many professional laminate installers will literally use a paintbrush to paint the grain on when refinishing. 

Since the odds are good that you don’t have the intricate skills necessary to do this, there is another way. We have laid out this other method below, which doesn’t require as much specific experience. 

Prep the Floor

The first thing you will want to do when refinishing a laminate floor is prep the area. 

Generally, this means that you should remove all the furniture and rugs from the room. This will make it much easier to get the stain put down and leave room for you to work. 

You should also tape off the baseboards around the floor. The tape will protect the areas that you don’t want stain to get on. 

After you have taped off the room, clean the laminate with soap and water. Dry the floor with a rag right after cleaning to keep any moisture from getting under the laminate. 

Once you have cleaned the floor completely, you should let it air dry for at least 2 hours. This will ensure that no excess moisture was missed during the cleaning process. 

Apply a Chemical Etcher

After the floor has been thoroughly cleaned, you can then apply a chemical etcher

Chemical etcher is a compound that will remove the dyes in the laminate without removing the grain. This is the closest you will get to the effect of sanding on a laminate floor. 

Follow the instructions on the chemical etcher to properly apply it. 

You should also be very careful when using it to observe all safety procedures. Wear a mask when applying and make sure to have all the windows open in the room. 

Once you have applied the etcher, wipe the floor down with a cloth to remove any excess. 

Let the floor dry for at least two hours after applying the etcher. 

Buff the Floor

buff the floor

After the etcher has dried, buff the floor with a 120-grit sanding screen. This will give the laminate a dull finish that will hold onto the stain. 

Be sure not to buff the floor too much after applying the etcher. Running over it for too long could remove the grain printing and completely negate the use of the etcher. 

Vacuum the floor after buffing to ensure that all the dust is picked up. You do not want any debris left on the laminate once you start staining. 

Apply the Stain

Now that your laminate has been stripped, you can apply the stain in your preferred color. 

If you have one, bring a spare piece of laminate to the store when picking out stain. You can see what it will look like on the actual floor instead of on a piece of paper. 

Apply the stain using a cloth and work in the direction of the printed grain. 

Let the stain dry for the time that is listed on the package. Then, apply a second coat and let it dry for at least 24 hours so it can completely cure.

Apply a Sealant 

If you want, you can apply a sealant to your laminate floor to help protect it. 

Polyurethane works very well on laminate and will last for a long time. It will also help protect the underside of the laminate from moisture after spills or cleaning

Apply the polyurethane using a roller to avoid streaks and bubbles. 

Let the polyurethane cure completely for 48 hours before moving and furniture back onto the floor. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can I lighten my laminate flooring?

Since laminate is dyed, it can be very difficult to stain it a lighter color. 

In order to stain your laminate lighter, you would have to completely remove the grain. If you want it lighter, your better bet is to whitewash it

  • Can you cover laminate flooring with vinyl?

Vinyl needs a solid base to lay on in order for it to stay put. Laminate has a lot of give and will not be a good choice. 

  • Is vinyl floor better than laminate?

Modern vinyl flooring is fairly high quality and less expensive than laminate. However, it does not have the longevity that laminate has. 

Vinyl will also not be as durable against scratches and gouges as laminate. 


Refinishing your laminate floor can be difficult to do correctly. However, if you take the time to go through all the steps, you can get a good final product. 

By using the proper chemicals and tools, you can completely refinish your floor and rejuvenate it just like you want.

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Michael J. O’Connor is a writer and marketing specialist from the Bay Area of California. A graduate of Sonoma State’s Creative Writing program, he spent many years as a contractor and carpet layer, learning the ins and outs of flooring and general contracting. When he’s not typing away at his desk, he enjoys hiking with his dogs, woodworking and collecting rare books. See full biography here.

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