How to Stain Laminate Wood Flooring

Snap-together laminate wood flooring covering a concrete subfloor.
  • 4-24 hours
  • Beginner
  • 50-120
What You'll Need
Degreaser (such as quality dish washing liquid)
Floor scrubber with long handle
Floor mop
Masking tape
Masking paper
Three-inch china-bristle brush
Natural-bristle brush
Clear finish

Staining laminate wood flooring can be a rewarding job, as you get to watch the raw surface transform with a deep, rich, color that gives definition and life. Additionally, something as simple as a new finish can completely revitalize and transform your decor without emptying your wallet. So, set aside an entire day to take up this project and follow this step-by-step approach to get a new floor you can be proud of.

Tip: Once you start this project, do not stop in the middle. This could result in patchy, uneven coverage.

Step 1 - Clean Your Laminate Flooring

cleaning a laminate floor

The most important preparation for staining your floor is to make sure it doesn't have any oily substances on it. Mix degreaser in a bucket of hot water, and use your scrub brush to work it back and forth until the wood is nice and clean. When you have finished a four-foot by four-foot area, use your floor mop with clean, hot water to rinse thoroughly. Do not leave excess water pooling anywhere; use some of your rags to wipe it up. Repeat this process until your entire floor is clean, and then allow it to dry 24 to 48 hours before applying stain.

Step 2 - Mask Off and Protect

While your floor is drying, take and run a strip of masking tape along the bottom of your baseboard all the way around the perimeter of your room. Try not to completely stick the top edge of your tape down. Then, run a single strip of masking paper around your room as well, sliding it behind your tape before you press it down firmly; this is why you want to keep the top edge of your tape loose at first. Use a small piece of tape and tag the paper up to the wall afterward so it doesn't fall. Do your best to use tape sparingly so you do not damage your wall paint peeling it off.

Step 3 - Apply Stain

paint brush in a can of stain

Tip: Don't shake your can of stain. Stir it gently to mix it without causing bubbles that you'll need to sand out later.

Warning: Make sure room is well-ventilated and wear a face mask while applying stain to avoid breathing in toxic chemicals.

To apply, begin in the farthest corner of the room and work your way to the exit in four-foot by four-foot sections again. Use your china bristle paint brush, beginning along the edge and going with the grain pattern of the wood. Then, wipe any excess off with a rag until color looks uniform. Continue working like this until your entire floor is stained, and allow it to dry according to manufacturer's instructions.

Step 4 - Sand

The next step will be to sand your floor to prepare for a layer of finish. Use a medium-grit in small circular motions. You goal should be to only rough up the surface so your clear coat adheres well. Remember to keep your face mask on and add a pair of safety goggles during this step, you don't want to get any particles in your eyes or lungs.

Step 5 - Add Finish

Get a clean, natural-bristle paintbrush and use it to spread your clear finish over the newly-stained flooring. Work from one corner to the exit once more, keeping your strokes even and with the wood grain. Again, follow your manufacturer's instructions in regards to the proper dry time before you walk on it, return furniture to the room, or remove the baseboard tape.

Staining laminate flooring seems like a such a big task to tackle, but anyone can do it; it doesn't require special skills. Following a few short and easy steps is all it takes to learn what you need to know to get a great result.