Dear James: I am half way through my kitchen remodel. I find I cannot afford now to replace the old linoleum flooring. Is it possible to paint the old flooring and will it hold up? -- Kim S.
Dear Kim: It often happens that you run out of money near the end of a project and have to change your plans. Since the floor area is large and has a major impact on the decor of the room, you should do something to spruce it up a little.
You are in luck, because a linoleum floor can be painted, and painted floors are considered to be very stylish today. With the new, durable do-it-yourself coatings available, a painted linoleum floor can have a surface finish almost as durable as hardwood.
The keys to a lasting job are making sure the old linoleum floor really is in good condition and then carefully preparing the old floor surface to accept the paint. Plan on spending the better part of a week on refinishing the old linoleum floor.
First, scrub the old floor thoroughly with a strong floor cleaning solution. Don't just use a sponge mop. Actually scrub it with a brush, especially in the high traffic areas where the floor will be worn the most.
Using a magnifying glass, inspect the floor surface for tiny cracks. When you find imperfections, probe them with the tip of a steak knife. If you are able to easily pick out small specks of the linoleum, the floor is probably beyond repair. Even if you paint and finish it properly, specks will continue to flake off and expose the old color.
If the floor surface checks out okay, you are ready to begin the preparation. The cleaning you did before should have removed any wax residue, but you should still lightly sand the entire floor with medium-grit sandpaper on a hand sanding block. This will slightly roughen the surface for better paint adhesion and smooth out any rough spots.
Run your vacuum cleaner brush attachment over the floor to remove the sanding dust and grit. Wet mopping is also a good idea. Lay a flashlight on the floor and shine the beam along the floor. This will highlight any damaged spots. Fill them it with wood filler or automobile body filler.
Using a roller and a brush (for the corners), apply a coat of oil-based primer for the best adhesion. You will probably want to crack open a window for some fresh air. If you are planning to paint a dark floor color, also have the primer tinted. If the finish coat wears a little over years of use, the tiny spots will not be as apparent.
When using oil-based primer and top coat paints, it is important to follow the paint manufacturer's instructions as to how long to wait between coats. Waiting longer for it to thoroughly dry between coats is not always best.
High-quality paint will probably cover in one coat, but applying a second coat is extra insurance for a uniform appearance. Give the paint several days to dry and then finish the surface with two coats of floor urethane.
James Dulley's weekly column, "Here's How," can be found at creators.com.