How to Stain Laminate Floors (Painting Laminate Floors)

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how to stain laminate floors

Laminate is an affordable and functional flooring material that works well in all types of homes. Its particle board construction makes it a good choice for those who want a hardwood look without the high cost. 

After a few years of use, though, you may want to revamp your laminate flooring. A new paint job is a great way to breathe some new life into your old floors. 

We have put together a step-by-step guide to staining laminate floors. By following this process, you can revitalize your floors quickly and easily. 

Key Takeaways

Here’s a quick rundown of how to stain your laminate floors:

  • Choose a quality paint based in latex (so it can harden on top of the surface).
  • Sand your surface to make it even (try using an orbital sander). Sweep clear of any dust.
  • Tape and mask your walls and baseboards, and apply primer with a brush or roller to help the paint adhere. Use slow and even strokes.
  • Apply your paint with slow and even strokes, then leave it to dry for at least four hours.
  • Apply a second coat and let dry overnight to harden.

Staining Laminate Floors: Basic Idea

To stain or paint your laminate floors in a way that is durable and professional-looking, follow these steps carefully: 

  • Find a high-quality latex paint or stain
  • Thoroughly sand the floor
  • Prime the floor
  • Apply the paint 

Expert Advice: From my personal experience, I’d recommend choosing a darker color for your staining project. It can help hide minor imperfections and daily wear-and-tear better than lighter shades, especially for households with pets or kids. Remember, the color of your floor sets the tone for the rest of your room, so choose wisely!

Why Stain Your Laminate Floors?

laminate flooring

The flooring in your home is perhaps the most high-touch area. It is susceptible to all kinds of damage and scuffing, no matter how careful you are. 

Because of this, you may notice that your laminate flooring has started to look dull or flawed. 

If this can not be resolved by a simple sweeping or mopping, a new paint job is the best option. It will help cover any chips or scratches and give the home a new look at the same time. 

New paint can rejuvenate a room and can even fix minor unsightly damage in the process.

Expert Advice: Before you begin staining, consider investing in knee pads or a comfortable cushion to kneel on. Processes like sanding and painting require you to be on your knees for extended periods. Trust me; it’s a small investment that your knees will thank you for in the long run.

Choose a Latex-Based Paint

Before beginning the task of staining your laminate floors, it is important to pick the right paint. 

Regular, oil-based stain is not a good choice for painting floors in general, but especially not laminate. 

These stains need to penetrate the grain of wood in order to fully dry. Laminate is not porous and will not hold onto them efficiently. 

Instead, choose a latex-based paint. This type of paint is thick and it hardens on top of surfaces for a durable, long-lasting coat on many materials. 

You will want to get the highest quality latex paint that you can find. Flooring paint needs to be first-rate, otherwise it will easily chip or scratch, necessitating another round of painting. 

Sand the Floor

Before you start laying down coats of paint, you will want to sand down the flooring. This will eliminate any uneven surfaces, which can impede the drying process and cause issues down the line. 

The best tool for sanding your laminate floor is an orbital sander. These sanders are efficient and easy to use, and will be effective for eliminating any rough spots on the floor. 

When sanding, make sure to pick one direction and stick to it. This will create a smooth, even surface and prevent deep gouges in the flooring. 

After you have finished sanding, sweep up any dust and give the sanded floor a thorough cleaning before continuing. 

Apply Primer

staining laminate floor

After sanding and cleaning the floor, you are ready to apply the primer. Primer gives the paint something to hold on to and will give you better longevity

Use a high adhesion primer for this step. High adhesion primer works as an anchor point and will create a sticky barrier between the laminate and the paint. 

Tape off the walls and baseboards with painter’s tape to make sure that you only paint the floors. 

Apply the primer with a brush or roller in slow, even strokes without letting it build up too thick. Also, make sure that you leave a space for yourself to exit the room without walking on the wet floor. 

Let the primer dry for at least 3 hours before you apply your final latex paint top coat. However, for the absolute best results, leave it to dry overnight. 

Expert Advice: Something that often gets overlooked is the importance of allowing ample time for the paint to dry between the primer and the paint application, as well as after your final coat. Failing to do this can result in a bumpy finish and can cause your stain to peel prematurely. I always suggest waiting at least 24 hours between each step to avoid these issues.

Apply the Paint

Now that you have sanded and primed your laminate flooring, you are ready to apply the top coat. 

Paint the floor with the same even strokes you used for the primer. You should notice that it is rolling on smooth and not soaking into the primer. 

After finishing the whole floor, let it dry for at least 4 hours, then apply a second coat. The surface should be crisp and have a matte finish when it is dry. 

Once the second coat is applied, let it cure overnight before walking on it. This will ensure that it is fully hardened and will not be sticky or tacky. 

After that, your laminate floor will be fully stained and ready for many years of use. 


  • How do I clean a laminate floor?

To clean a laminate floor, use a product that is specifically developed for this material. Do not use soap or any type of oil-soap detergent. 

Laminate can also be vacuumed for a convenient and effective clean that only takes a few minutes.  

You can also use a bit of vinegar and water in a spray bottle to spot clean. Do this as soon as you notice an area that needs cleaning. 

  • Can I spray paint laminate flooring?

Spray paint is never a good idea for laminate flooring. It does not have the adhesive properties of latex paint and can easily scratch or wear down. 

Spray paint is also difficult to accurately and evenly apply. This is especially problematic for flooring, since it is a large area that is very close to walls and trim. 

  • Can I paint laminate flooring without sanding?

While you can apply paint to laminate flooring without sanding, it is not recommended. Sanding removes any rough spots and gives you a smooth surface on which you can paint. 

If you don’t sand your flooring, you could end up with areas where paint pools and collects. This will result in an uneven coat that will not give you the longevity you need on flooring. 


Staining your laminate floors is a great way to give your home a new look and an added boost. 

By following all the steps laid out above, you can ensure a high quality, stress-free job. You can also get the satisfaction of doing it yourself and completing a job well done. 

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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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