Linoleum was a popular flooring choice for many decades, but it’s not quite as common these days. Unfortunately, those who are left with it are forced to remove or paint over it. There are debates about whether it’s safe or even possible to paint over linoleum, but you’re in the right place to learn the truth.

You can paint linoleum floors if you sand them and add a deglossing agent. Once the surface is textured and stripped, it can be painted. The paint attaches to the rough, porous top level of linoleum, allowing you to make whichever patterns and colors you choose to.

Throughout this post, you’ll also learn the following info about painting linoleum:

  • Step-by-step instructions to paint your linoleum floors
  • The various problems associated with painting directly on top of linoleum
  • How you can clean and maintain your newly painted flooring
  • How to make a DIY cleaning solution

How to Paint a Linoleum Floor

Bare linoleum usually takes quite some time to accept paint. If you paint right on top of treated linoleum, there’s a high chance that it slips right off. It’s not too difficult to remove the layer, though, once you follow the steps below.

Here’s how you can paint linoleum floors:

  1. Use a sanding tool to remove the top layer of the linoleum. You’re supposed to use 120 grit sandpaper. It’s fine enough to look nice under the paint, but dense enough to remove enough of the gloss before you jump to the second step.
  2. Next, use a deglosser, such as the Klean-Strip Liquid Deglosser. Pour it on the floor, wipe it around with an old shirt or a mop, and let it soak into the floor. The solution will remove the top coat off of the linoleum, opening it up to be painted. You won’t be able to use the mop again since it rips the fibers out, so choose an old mop head.
  3. Apply painter’s tape around the edges of the floor (Scotch Painter’s Tape). The molding should be covered to protect it from the paint that you use. Make sure you put the tape completely off of the floor, so you don’t have random patches missing. Also, allow the tape to overlap.
  4. Use a small paintbrush and paint the edges of the floor. You want to use a brush rather than a roller because it’s much more accurate. Once you’ve thoroughly painted the edges of the floor, repeat this step to create a thick layer.
  5. Finally, use a roller to paint the rest of the floor. Start from left to right, ensuring that you don’t overlap anywhere on the linoleum. After you’ve covered the whole floor with paint, let it dry and roll down another layer.

That’s all there is to it! You can add stencils for unique patterns or leave the floor as a solid color. Ensure that you don’t skip or rush through any of the steps since they’re all very necessary.

If you’re worried about possible mistakes or risks involved with painting linoleum floors, proceed to the next section.

What Are the Risks?

Painting on linoleum floors is easier than most people think, but it’s still not the best choice, in some cases. For example, if the floors are old and chipped, they’ll reject the paint or flake over a few weeks.

Let’s review a handful of risks and issues involved with painting linoleum:

  • If you paint on linoleum without sanding and deglossing, it’ll look awful. You’ll see the design of the linoleum below the paint. You might need to use a primer either way, but it’s important to follow the directions of the paint can. Using a paint that doesn’t need primer is the best course of action.
  • If you forget to strip the top layer of the linoleum, it also won’t hold onto the paint. It looks bad, as mentioned above, but it also won’t be porous enough to absorb or hold the paint. You’ll notice chips, scrapes, and other issues throughout the painted floors.
  • While it’s not always an issue, you must be certain that the floors are made of linoleum. Vinyl, softwood, and many other materials sometimes look like linoleum. However, they need to be treated differently. Following the instructions above can prove problematic if your floors aren’t made of linoleum.
  • When you’re using the sanding tool, move in strips, columns, or rows. The goal is to prevent your sander from going over the same area twice. It’s not irreparable, but having an extra-sanded portion next to a portion that hasn’t been sanded can make the paint job look terrible.
  • Allow the paint to dry before you start the second layer. If you don’t allow enough time between paint layers, it’ll smudge around and create swirls. For the matter, let the second layer of paint dry for 24 hours before adding rugs or allowing too much foot traffic.

As you can see, the few risks that come with painting linoleum floors are minimal and easily avoidable. Cleaning the floors regularly will keep them looking like new. If you want to stay on the safe side, simply follow the guide in the previous section.

How to Maintain Painted Linoleum

Although they’re painted, you have to take care of the floors as if they’re still linoleum. Harsh chemicals can cause serious issues, so you shouldn’t use bleach or acidic solutions.

Follow these suggestions to maintain your painted linoleum floors:

  • The first step of maintaining linoleum floors is the same as most others; You have to sweep them regularly. Removing pet dander, debris, dust, and anything else on the floor can increase your floors’ lifespan for a very long time.
  • On that note, remove spills as soon as they happen. Sticky juices, melted food, and other messy spills can damage the paint and linoleum underneath. They also absorb into the porousness caused by deglossing and sanding. Anything acidic can eat right through the paint.
  • Use a mixture of warm water, dish soap, and white vinegar to clean tough stains. As you read in the top suggestion, harsh chemicals cause damage to linoleum. Mix these ingredients in a bucket and apply the solution with a soft sponge or a mop.
  • It’s also recommended that you vacuum the floors once per week. Occasionally suctioning the dust away will grab the bits of debris that you didn’t get with the broom. If you don’t have a vacuum, consider using a microfiber cloth to get the job done.
  • Finally, note that you might have to refinish parts of the floor during the first few months after painting it. Whether you missed a spot or heavy foot traffic loosened the fresh paint, there’s a chance that you’ll have to get the roller out and patch up the floor with new paint.


Painting your linoleum floors is cost-effective and much less time-consuming than buying brand-new flooring. You’ll be able to complete the job in an afternoon rather than hiring professionals to demo the room over a couple of weeks.

Maintaining your painted linoleum floors will allow them to stay like-new for a long time. They’re quite durable, so linoleum is still found in houses built over three decades ago. Why not save money by repurposing them and still take advantage of their longevity?

You might be trying to modernize your house, repair old flooring, or change things up for a bit. Whatever your reasoning may be, let it be known that you can paint linoleum floors after sanding and deglossing them.

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