Painting a Bathroom Flooring


One option available for decorating your house is painting your bathroom floors. If the look is old and tired, painting it can give it a fresh look for a reasonable cost. You can paint over wood flooring (be it hardwood or engineered) as readily as vinyl, linoleum, or cement flooring. Consider stenciling a bathroom floor as part of your painting approach. The last step in this decorating process is sealing a bathroom floor to make it durable to the steam and traffic it gets.

The number of bathroom flooring options available today may seem overwhelming — so much so that the idea of simply painting a bathroom flooring is a simple and elegant choice, and maybe more affordable than replacing what you have. Stenciling a bathroom floor, or doing sponge art, can also give a personal and creative touch that no other home will have.

Practically any bathroom flooring can be painted so whether you are painting natural or engineered wood flooring, vinyl flooring, linoleum flooring, or cement, the two primary keys to success are proper surface preparation and the primer coat.
Proper Surface Preparation:
Generally speaking, regardless of what floor you are painting over, the old treatment must be removed or made ready to accept paint.

  • For wood floors, the old varnish or wax must be removed. For stubborn spots, you may need to scrape and sand the areas, making sure to sand with the grain of the wood. For safety sake, use a dust mask and safety glasses before sanding to avoid dust inhalation. After you’ve swept the area and wiped with a damp towel or mop, take the time to pound in the nails and fill the gouges with a wood filler. Finally, clean the floor with a non-wax liquid floor cleaner and allow the floor to dry.
  • Vinyl floors must be cleaned with tri-sodium phosphate, which can be purchased at most stores that sell paint. To remove the glossy finish of the vinyl, sand the floor with 180-grit sandpaper. Even after sanding, you may see dimples on the vinyl because most vinyl flooring is textured by the manufacturer. If this occurs, use a de-glosser, which will remove any remaining texture and will scratch the surface so the paint will adhere better to the floor.
  • Linoleum floors must be cleaned as thoroughly as possible with a floor cleaner and carefully examined for small cracks in the surface. If the linoleum is deeply cracked or is chipping, it should be removed prior to painting. Assuming the linoleum is in good shape, use a medium-grit sandpaper over the entire floor to remove any wax. Sanding also prepares the floor by gently scratching the surface so the paint can adhere properly to the floor. Mop and vacuum the floor thoroughly.
  • Cement must be swept and mopped to remove dust and dirt. Remove all rough spots from the cement, especially if the bathroom is in the basement because drywall paste, glues, or other construction material may be present.

Once your bathroom floor has been properly prepared, the primer can be applied using a roller. A water-based primer should be used for surfaces that will resist paint but in general, an oil-based primer can be used. Consult with the manufacturer if you are unsure which primer to use. Allow the primer to dry in accordance with the instructions on the can. Depending on the condition of the original flooring, a second coat of primer is recommended. If necessary, sand the surface again and apply a second coat of primer.
Now that the bathroom floor has been prepared and primed, it can be painted with two or three coats of satin or semi-gloss paint. Using a roller, paint a strip around the room about a foot from the wall, which should be cut in later with a paint brush. Then, beginning in the farthest corner from the door, paint your way out of the bathroom. Allow the paint to fully dry between coats in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
Adding sponge art or stenciling a bathroom floor will give your it a special and unique feel. This can be a really fun way to be creative and express yourself. Once you’ve applied your creative flair and the paint has had time to dry, apply two topcoats of clear, floor-quality polyurethane varnish. Sealing a bathroom floor after painting it gives durability to the floor so the pattern won’t wear off.
Painting Ideas:

  • Solid color with contrasting paint flecks
  • Solid color with glitter or sequins added as the paint dries
  • Two tone paint (you can buy kits at home improvement and paint stores to make this easy)
  • Stencil a pattern around the edge of the room
  • Stencil a rug pattern at furniture groupings, or at the door
  • Sponge a pattern around the edge of the room
  • Sponge a pattern or design across the floor

Painting your bathroom floor is not the most obvious choice in bathroom flooring options because paint is normally associated with walls. Once you stop to consider the option, however, you may find it the perfect choice for your bathroom. This is one of the most creative flooring options so have fun and create your own style.

22 thoughts on “Painting a Bathroom Flooring”

  1. I have a grey stone tile bathroom floor would like to paint it, is this possible, can you advise the correct paint to use and method. Thank you.

  2. Hi Pat,
    I wouldn’t recommend painting the stone, though it can be done. I presume you’re unhappy with the color? If so, strip it and then stain it rather than paint it. That way, it actually penetrates the stone and can be sealed afterwards. What kind of stone is it?

  3. I am going to have my bathroom remodeled and I like those big black and white squares on the floor. I don’t know if they should be ceramic or vinyl or linoleum – which would be better. There is a vinyl flooring in there now -maybe 50 years old–that is stuck fast to the cement and I fear they will charge me an arm and a leg to get it up – but once they do what is best to put down.

  4. Hi Tereese,
    If you do have it torn up – please be careful – on flooring that old, it may very well contain asbestos – the adhesive too. It’s perfectly safe to cover up the old flooring though. Ceramic, porcelain or linoleum would all be great choices and easy to take care of. The colors in lino go all the way through the material, where vinyl is only on top of the flooring material. Lino costs more, but well worth it.

  5. Hi, we have what I believe to be ceramic tile in the bathroom (grout and all) and it’s a pink and white marble. I can’t STAND pink! lol. I was thinking about painting it, but I’m not sure if it’s possible. It’s textured tile and I like the texture, but I’d just like it to not be PINK and I can’t bear the thought of paying to have it pulled and replaced.

  6. Hi Crystal,
    It’s probably ceramic, but it could also be stone. I don’t think that paint would adhere to well on ceramic (the secret is always to use a proper primer!), but should do ok on stone if prepared for the paint properly.
    It’s not very difficult to remove and install new tile, there’s lots of info available to you via the internet to learn how. It doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. ;~)
    Is the tile just on the floors, or on the walls too?

  7. I removed layers of old linoleum and cannot get up all the black stuff actually on the wood surface. i have tried everything recommended and even sanding does not remove it. is it possible to paint over this? i was thinking of using marine paint like for a boat. is that advisable

  8. Hi Susan,
    Others have used hot water (then scraping and steel wood) to get up this gunk. Some have used old rags and a steam iron or a damp rag and iron – then scraping, etc. There are chemicals available at hardware/home improvement stores as well. One person even posted that they used nail polish remover [acetone] (not an environmentally friendly choice to say the least!), but it did work. No matter which way you go, it’s going to involve a little bit of elbow grease, but if you want to save the floor then you just gotta do it.
    Not sure what else to advise in the way of paint since you didn’t mention what room this flooring was in. Hopefully the old flooring didn’t contain asbestos.

  9. Hi, I am all ready to paint my wood bathroom floor. I have sanded, primed and ready to paint it. I was at the hardware store and purchased paint for the floor and was going to purchase Polyurethane, but the label on the Polyurethane says to remove all paint first. I am confused. Is there a different type of polyurethane I should use, or can I use Polyurethane over this paint. Thanks.

  10. I am pulling up carpeting from our bathroom and the floor underneath is concrete. I’d like to paint it (and the bedroom floor as well.) There is a white and tan tile in the toilet area that connects to the sink/dressing area. Any suggestions on making the transition from painted concrete to tile? I have a VERY limited budget, have always hated the carpet in the bathroom and want to make this work. Thanks!

  11. There are transition pieces that can be bought and/or made. Quarter round would be an affordable option. Be sure to seal and caulk it well. Porcelain and glass tile borders can be purchased, though they are pricier than you may have in mind, that would make attractive transitions.

  12. I want to paint my bathroom floor, which is linoleum, my problem is that there is a small hole in front of the bathtub. Could I fill in the hole with something, sand it and move on from there? What do you suggest? Thank you for your help. Starla

  13. Starla,
    I recommend in the article:
    “Linoleum floors must be cleaned as thoroughly as possible with a floor cleaner and carefully examined for small cracks in the surface. If the linoleum is deeply cracked or is chipping, it should be removed prior to painting.”

  14. I painted a ceramic floor in the bathroom. I primed it first but it remains sticky. When water hits it, it becomes discolored. Did I use the wrong paint or should I have used a sealer over top of it.

  15. Michelle,
    I am not sure what type of paint you used but when painting a cermaic floor you should use an oil-based or epoxy paint. Water-based paints tend to peel.
    Once the paint is dry (wait 2 to 3 days) you can apply a water based polyurethane. I suggest using Diamond Coat Varathan Polyurethane, it’s an excellent product. This will help protect your floor from the type of issues you are having now.

  16. I have removed carpet from my master bedroom and want to paint the floor. Around the edge of the room there is old paint that is now hard to remove. what are the steps I need to take and what type of paint should i use.


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