How NOT to paint a vinyl floor–Epic FAIL


Thanks for your kind comments on my door painting fail – so glad I’m not the only one who’s screwed up a DIY project.

And I’ll give a quick disclaimer right now: painting your floors can look AWESOME and is a great solution for a cheap face lift until you can replace flooring outright.

However … however, if you rush this project, you’ll screw it up royally. Guess which route I took?


After horribly trashing the floor around the door with not one, but two spray painting fiascos, I couldn’t take it anymore and wisely plunged into tackling the floor. I mean, come on … really? How long could you greet friends at the door with a floor that looked like that?


But at the same time … finish one project, woman, and then move on.

The entry floor was covered with the same peel-n-stick vinyl tiles that we have in the kitchen.  The original linoleum was a dark, heavy 70’s brown, so the white vinyl was a big improvement. But just like the kitchen floor, these tiles were 10 years old and seriously showing their wear.  This is freshly scrubbed.


See? It never looks clean. And that was before several layers of spray paint over spray.

So after a quick wipe down, that floor got two coats of oil based primer.


Seriously, oil based primer is the greatest stuff ever. I was giddy with how much better it all ready looked.  I let that dry for a couple days and then rolled on a coat of white semi-gloss paint (what I had on hand).

And then …yup,  you guessed it … I went stupid again.

Instead of letting that paint dry for 2-3 days minimum before taping over it, I waited a mere 18 24 hours until it felt dry and started taping away. Laying out the grid was easy …


… I just followed the lines of the vinyl tiles.


Then I rollered on a second coat of white semi-gloss paint over the entire floor to help seal the tape edges  so that the  next layer of brown paint wouldn’t seep under the tape.  Again, only waited a day and then charged ahead with the brown. I rolled on two coats using the same paint I used on the front door.  I waited a day, and then started carefully pulling up the tape. And at first, it looked wicked awesome.


But on the second square something really, really bad started to happen: the paint under the tape started coming up. Everywhere. In huge pieces.


Oh, snap.

I wanted to cry … really, really cry.

But I didn’t, because Mr. Thrive wasn’t thrilled about the huge door mess that had created the floor mess that was now a painted floor mess. And I was determined to save this project and actually finish a project for once. So I lightly sanded down the worst of the edges and and carefully started touching up the peeled off areas in each square. (Thankfully just the white semi-gloss lifted and not the primer underneath.) And while not perfect, I was relieved to see that with some patience, it was completely fixable.


But … but … after finishing my touch ups, I left the paint tray on the stairs and went upstairs for a minute … and my three year old daughter saw the very full paint tray just sitting there and wanted to help momma with the painting … and she tried to pick it up to go down the stairs and paint … and dropped the heavy tray … and watched all of that white paint land on the carpeted stairs and splatter across the newly painted floor … and then probably panicked that momma would be mad and promptly ran back up the stairs, tracking big paint foot prints on all the steps that hadn’t been covered by the paint to start.

And anytime you have a 1/3 of a gallon land on your floor, you know there’s not a snowballs chance that it’s coming out.


That’s when I cried.

For a full five minutes I lost it and cried like a baby.

But then I took a deep breath … and hugged my baby girl and apologized to her for yelling and being mad when I was the one who left the paint out … and I put my big girl pants on and started to hustle.

Because it was two o’clock in the afternoon … and Mr. Thrive was going to be home at seven … and I didn’t want him to have to walk into that kind of mess … or stress over how on earth we’d pay not only for new flooring in the entryway, but also for the stairs.  So I scraped as much of the paint out of the carpet as I could … and wiped all the excess paint off the floor … and took a few quick, crappy pictures to blackmail my children with as my mind raced as to how on earth I was going to fix this mess. (Edited to add: yes, yes I was having flashbacks to this moment.)


Oh, and did I mention that we had company coming in from out a state in just two weeks?

The floor I knew could be repainted. Again.

But the stairs? The only thing I could think off was to rip the carpet off the bottom tread and hurry down to Lowe’s and see if  could match it. I knew I couldn’t get it installed before Mr. Thrive got home, but I was hoping that having the replacement stuff already ordered would soften the blow. So I grabbed a hammer and a pair of pliers and started yanking.


Holy cow. We vacuum and sweep twice a day and that’s how much dirt was under the carpet and pad. It’s probably ten years worth … but still. Ewwww.

I was completely grossed out … and even more worried about what to do … but the reality was that I couldn’t afford new carpet—even a small amount of replacement carpet – so the choice was to live with the huge paint stains on the carpet plus one naked tread at the bottom –or- figure out a way to rock-what-ya-got.

And so I took a deep breath … and then another … and then made an executive decision. And I started yanking and pulling and ripping until all of the carpet going upstairs was gone and I was left with this:


And suddenly I had not only an unfinished door and an unfinished floor, but was now waist deep in a stair project.

And that’s where things got interesting. Back in a bit.


29 thoughts on “How NOT to paint a vinyl floor–Epic FAIL”

  1. Oh my gosh. This was like the most interesting DIY post I've ever read. I was hanging on each paragraph. So…what happened next?? I'm dying to know!

  2. What size is your entry? I know you probably have the problem fixed by now, but I have some gorgeous (in my opinion) leftover tile from building our house (2 years ago) that I think might work perfectly there, and we would just give them to you. They've just been sitting in a closet for 2 years. You can look at some (not so good quality) pics of the tiles installed in our kitchen here:

    • Ah, thank you so much Teresa! I checked out your gorgeous kitchen — love the cabinets and counter tops! (How nice would 'new' be?) The entry re-do is almost do (fingers crossed, knock on wood …), but can I so keep you in mind–seriously? I'm almost afraid of what the kids will do next. 🙂 But if you're ever in Utah, bring 'em by and I'll soooooo put those gorgeous tiles to work.

  3. Oh my, I was holding my breath while reading and wondering what comes next. But I'm sure you'll fix it! BTW I hate carpet on stairs and that's the only place in the house where we have carpet…

  4. Hahahahahaha! I just replied to your email and popped over to see if the floor post was up! OH MY GOSH! Are you sure we aren't twins separated at birth? This is totally something I would have (or possibly have..I'm NOT tellin')done! I have spilt more than my fair share of paint. Try brand new carpet and bright red paint…mmm hmmm that would be me! Or brand new linoleum and a whole can of paint. Yep, me again!Can't wait to see what you did with the stairs. If they were mine I would have put some vinyl on the risers…just sayin'! =) Have fun!

  5. FYI…homeowners insurance covers this kind of mess….you'll have to pay your deductible and the prorate your carpet but they will pay for all the carpet that links into the stairs too to make it blend. I know this from experience. Sad but true.

  6. Oh my I had a good chuckle with my coffee I know your look back one day and laugh as so many of us have had this happen though I have never painted a floor I bet you were just a nervous wreck that day I would have been

  7. O.M.G…..feeling for ya but this is like a book I can't put down!!!! I have all the faith in the world that ALL OF THIS will turn out beautiful! Can't wait for more!!!

  8. Oh, Nike!! I have been in similar situations myself and you just feel CRAZY!!! I am sure it is much better now(or will be soon)
    Thanks for showing us everything – it is what makes your blog the best!

  9. OMG – Thank you for reminding me that it could always be worse! I don't know how you mange to face some of these parenting "challenges" with as much humor and grace as you do. All I can say is Kudos my dear friend!

  10. Hang in there!!!! One step forward two steps back but you will be leaps and bounds ahead when it's all done. Promise!!! Can't wait to see it when it's all done. Kindred spirits because I've been looking at ripping my carpets up to paint them for the past 2 weeks. Best motivation ever – company is coming 🙂

  11. I had to read the paint spill paragraph out loud to my husband because he was concerned. I kept saying "oh, no" over and over and he thought something was seriously wrong! I hope it gets better for you. Paint spills are the worst.

  12. BLess your heart.. I feel soooo sorry for you.. I too..have had the paint spill thing happen..TERRIBLE!!!
    You were quick thinking…[especially considering hubby would be home soon..and I have one of them…and know how thier reaction to such things]
    I am dying to see what you did with the stairs? and what did hubby say, when he got home and saw the carpet gone???? [ I am shuddering at the thought,ha]
    Sending prayers for a beautiful fix.. and knowing how well you do things.. I know we are in for a wonderful surprise..

  13. Unbelievable!!! I would have completely broken down – I can't imagine how you endured all of the mishaps! Well, I am hanging on edge waiting to see how this all turns out (bet it is gorgeous) and can't wait to read more of your decorating adventures.

  14. I just read this post and totally smiled. It reminded me of the time I tried to repaint my bath tub. I couldn't wait to bath and so I hopped in before it was completely dry. Good times. Thanks for sharing!

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