How to Paint Linoleum Floors

Mike Matthews

Faded old linoleum flooring can be difficult -- and expensive -- to remove and replace, but you can give your room a fresh look with the right combination of primer and paint. Any linoleum or sheet-vinyl floor free of cracks or voids is a good candidate for painting.

For the most labor-saving approach to the project, start with an adhesion-promoting primer, then top it off with a scuff-resistant porch-floor paint in the color of your choice.

  1. Ventilate the area. Mix up a bucket of trisodium phosphate or a product labeled as a TSP substitute with water as directed on the product's label.

  2. Use a sponge mop to wipe the floor with the TSP mix, then rinse it off with warm tap water. Let the floor air-dry before continuing.

  3. Press painter's tape around the exterior perimeter of the floor, taking care to cover the edges of all adjoining walls, baseboards and thresholds.

  4. Brush on an adhesion-promoting primer, also known as a bonding primer, to the outer edges of the floor using a paintbrush. Spread the primer 2 to 3 inches in from the walls or threshold. This creates a suitable base coat over the linoleum and eliminates the need for sanding.

  5. Attach the roller to an extension pole so you can apply primer and paint while standing upright.

  6. Pour the primer into a roller tray, then apply it to the balance of the floor using the roller. Bonding primers typically need one to three hours to dry before a top coat can be applied; for best results, follow the recommended drying time printed on the product's label.

  7. Clean the roller tray and attach a fresh roller cover to the roller cage.

  8. Apply a porch-floor paint to the outer edges of the floor using a paintbrush. Spread the paint 2 to 3 inches in from the walls or threshold.

  9. Pour the porch paint into the roller tray. Use the roller to apply paint evenly to the entire floor. Follow the paint manufacturer's recommended drying time, then apply a second coat.

  10. Remove the painter's tape 24 to 48 hours after painting is complete.


TSP is a powerful cleaner and degreaser, and products labeled as TSP substitutes offer comparable performance. If the paint will be used in a stairway, mudroom or laundry area, you may wish to mix an anti-skid additive to the paint to make the floor more slip resistant.


Keep all work areas ventilated when painting to minimize exposure to chemical vapors.

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