Can You Stain Vinyl Flooring? Expert Tips for Changing the Color of Your Floors

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Are you tired of your old vinyl flooring but aren’t ready to replace it? What if we told you there’s a way to refresh your floors without tearing them out? Staining vinyl flooring can give your space a new lease of life, transforming its appearance and complementing your decor. 

In this guide, we’ll explore the process of staining vinyl flooring, including the pros and cons, and give you expert tips to help you achieve the best results on your vinyl floors.

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding vinyl flooring involves recognizing its cost-effectiveness and ability to alter color.
  • Staining vinyl flooring is possible with specialized stains, sealers, cleaning solutions, and wax for added protection.
  • Consider the pros & cons of staining before beginning a project. New flooring may be more practical if existing vinyl is worn or damaged.

Understanding Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl flooring, a popular alternative to natural materials like hardwood, stone, or laminate flooring, is constructed from polyvinyl chloride plastic (PVC). It’s cost-effective, long-lasting, and simple to install. 

There are two primary types of vinyl flooring: standard vinyl and luxury vinyl, both which come in tile and plank form. 

Luxury Vinyl 

Luxury vinyl is notably thicker, more resilient, and has a more natural appearance and texture than standard vinyl tiles. Homeowners favor luxury  due to its versatility, durability, and straightforward installation process. It’s water-resistant, easy to maintain, and comes in a wide range of colors and styles, making it an ideal choice for those looking to install a new vinyl floor.

The primary disadvantage of luxury vinyl is that it tends to be more costly than traditional vinyl, but if you’re looking to stain vinyl flooring, luxury vinyl may be a suitable option due to its enhanced durability.

Standard Vinyl

Standard vinyl is a synthetic flooring solution designed to replicate the appearance of hardwood floors. It offers:

  • Water-resistance
  • Low maintenance
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Long-lasting durability

This makes it a great alternative to hardwood and laminate floors, especially when you need a single laminate floor replacement. 

Standard vinyl flooring isn’t as strong as other flooring materials, like hardwood or tile, or even luxury vinyl, and may be prone to scratching and denting due to heavy furniture or objects being dragged across the surface.

Staining vinyl plank flooring is achievable, but it’ll require specialized stains and a meticulous application process. Traditional wood stains aren’t appropriate for vinyl flooring, and you need to use specific stains, like gel stains.

Staining Vinyl Flooring: Is It Possible?

Staining vinyl flooring is possible, but it requires using specialized stains and techniques to achieve the desired results. 

In the following sections, we’ll discuss the different types of stains suitable for vinyl flooring and provide a step-by-step guide to staining your vinyl tiles.

Traditional Wood Stains vs. Vinyl Stains

Traditional wood stains are designed to penetrate the wood, highlighting the grain and protecting it against moisture or sunlight. On the other hand, stains suitable for vinyl are formulated to adhere to the surface of vinyl flooring.

Traditional wood stains aren’t suitable for use on vinyl flooring, as they can cause damage and produce unpredictable results. Instead, you need to use stains that work for vinyl flooring to ensure a successful staining project.

Paul McCrae, renovations contractor of over 12 years, says it’s not advisable to use traditional wood stains on vinyl. “It would be like trying to stain a ziploc bag. It wouldn’t be successful.”

Specialized Stains for Vinyl Flooring

You can use a specially formulated stain that’s suitable for vinyl flooring to avoid any discoloration or damage to the flooring. These stains are designed to work with the unique properties of vinyl flooring, providing more reliable and long-lasting results than traditional wood stains.

Gel Stains for Vinyl Floors

Gel stains are another option for staining vinyl floors, offering a thicker consistency and easier application. Before using a gel stain, test the product on a flooring sample to determine its staining potential. A brush or roller is recommended for applying gel stains, depending on the size of the area to be stained.

Once the gel stain has been applied, use a clear vinyl sealer to protect the floor from wear and tear.

Staining Vinyl Tiles: A Step-by-Step Guide

Staining vinyl tiles involves a three-step process: cleaning the floor, applying the vinyl stain, and sealing the stained floor for added protection. Each step requires careful attention to detail and following the manufacturer’s instructions for best results.

In the following sections, we’ll provide detailed guidance on each step.

Cleaning the Floor

Preparing the floor for staining involves ensuring the surface is clear of dirt, dust, and debris. Properly cleaning the floor is essential to ensure the stain adheres correctly and provides an even finish. Here are some steps to follow.

  1. Mix mild detergent and water, or create a baking soda paste.
  2. Apply the cleaning solution to the floor and scrub with a soft brush or mop.
  3. Rinse the floor thoroughly with clean water.
  4. Allow the floor to dry completely before applying the stain.

Wax or solvent-based polishes, ammonia, and ammonia-based cleaning solutions should be avoided when pre-staining vinyl flooring.

Once the entire surface of the floor is thoroughly cleaned, allow it to dry completely before applying the stain.

Applying the Vinyl Stain

When applying the vinyl stain, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for optimal results. Apply the stain in thin, even coats using a brush or roller. This will help ensure proper adhesion and an even color.

Allow the vinyl stain to dry completely before applying a second coat. The drying time may vary depending on the type of stain and the manufacturer’s instructions, ranging from a few hours to a few days. Be patient and allow the stain to dry fully to achieve the best results.

Sealing the Stained Floor

After the vinyl stain has dried, it’s essential to seal the stained floor to protect it from wear and tear and maintain its color. A clear sealer, such as VinylGuard, should be applied to the floor. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to prepare the sealant and apply it to the vinyl flooring using a paint roller or brush.

The sealant should be allowed to dry for a minimum of 24 hours before allowing foot traffic on the floor.

Caring for Stained Vinyl Floors

Maintaining the beauty and durability of your vinyl floors, including stain laminate flooring, requires regular cleaning with mild detergent and vinegar, waxing for added protection, and avoiding harsh chemicals that can damage the floor.

In the following sections, we’ll provide more detailed guidance on caring for your stained vinyl floors.

Cleaning with Mild Detergent and Vinegar

A mixture of mild detergent and vinegar is a safe and effective cleaning solution for stained vinyl floors. To create the cleaning solution, mix one-part mild detergent with one part vinegar in a bucket of warm water. Use a mop or cloth to spread the mixture evenly over the floor and scrub in a circular motion.

Rinse the floor with clean water and allow it to dry completely. This cleaning method helps remove dirt and grime without damaging the stained surface.

You don’t need to wax the vinyl, as it won’t adhere well to the vinyl floor’s coating. If you follow the cleaning instructions well, you should find that your vinyl floors have a nice shine. 

Avoiding Damage from Harsh Chemicals

Avoid using harsh chemicals on your stained vinyl floors, as they can cause damage and compromise the floor’s integrity. Instead, opt for gentle cleaning solutions like vinegar and water or pH-neutral vinyl cleaners. Steer clear of wax or solvent-based polishes, ammonia, and ammonia-based cleaning solutions, as they can be harmful to your vinyl flooring.

By using gentle cleaning methods and avoiding harsh chemicals, you can help preserve the beauty and longevity of your stained vinyl floors.

Pros and Cons of Changing the Color of Vinyl Flooring

Changing the color of your vinyl flooring can breathe new life into your space, but it’s important to consider both the benefits and drawbacks before embarking on this project. Staining vinyl flooring can be a cost-efficient way to update your floors without the need for replacement. However, staining is a temporary solution and may not be as durable as installing new flooring.

In the following sections, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of changing the color of your vinyl flooring in greater detail.

Benefits of Altering the Color

  • Enhance its visual appeal and coordinate with a new decor style. 
  • Cost-effective and refreshing flooring update. 
  • Fresh, new appearance that enhances the overall aesthetic of your space.
  • Matching the floor to the other elements of your decor helps create a cohesive and harmonious room.

Drawbacks and Potential Issues

  • Vinyl flooring is not environmentally friendly and can release volatile organic compounds into the atmosphere
  • Heavy furniture or sharp objects may cause dents or marks on vinyl floors.
  • Using inappropriate cleaning solutions, such as ammonia-based cleaners or bleach, can cause damage to your flooring.

When to Consider New Flooring

In some cases, investing in new flooring may be a more practical and long-lasting solution than trying to change the color of your existing vinyl floors. If your vinyl flooring is showing signs of wear or damage, or if the cost of altering the color surpasses the cost of replacing the floor, it may be prudent to consider new flooring.

New flooring can provide a fresh look and increased durability, making it a worthwhile investment for your home.


Staining vinyl flooring can be an effective way to refresh your floors without the need for replacement. However, it’s important to carefully consider the benefits and drawbacks, choose the right type of stain, and follow the proper steps to ensure a successful result. With proper care and maintenance, your stained vinyl floors can provide a fresh, new look that enhances the beauty of your space for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you change the color of vinyl floors?

Yes, you can paint vinyl floors to change their color. Painting is a great solution for achieving the desired effect. There are many options available when considering which color to choose.

Is it possible to stain vinyl?

Yes, you can stain vinyl floors by using a stain that’s suitable to adhere to its surface, like a gel stain. 

How do I clean my stained vinyl floor?

To clean your stained vinyl floor, mix mild detergent and vinegar to effectively remove dirt and grime with a mop.

When should I consider replacing my vinyl flooring instead of staining it?

If your vinyl flooring shows signs of wear or damage, or if the cost of altering the color is higher than replacing the floor, it may be best to consider new flooring.

Replacing the flooring can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. There are a variety of options available, from luxury vinyl tile to laminate flooring. With the right research and preparation, you can find the perfect flooring for your home.

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Joe McGuinty
I’ve been working with floors for over 12 years. I started as a flooring contractor, primarily in materials selection. Then, I switched careers into accounting, so my wife and I began buying, renovating, and re-selling homes on the side. You’d be surprised how much value you can add to a home simply by adding new floors.

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