My Kitchen Linoleum Floor - Painting

And the Benzene VOCs

A man in blue jeans and white sneakers standing in a kitchen that has a tan linoleum floor.

Our ultimate plan is to remove the entire linoleum floor and replace it with a hardwood floor. However that is going to take time. We will need to remove the center island and possibly some appliances as the floor extends under them. Our contractor is unable to take on this big job for several months. The floor is so bad that we need to do something temporarily. If you touch it, it feels like a powdery gritty feel. I am sure the VOCs were high when the floor was brand new, but now it is 19 years old and it's even worse. The linoleum has fiberglass in it and it is floating around. The good thing is that the batt fiberglass has been removed from the rest of the house, so the upstairs has good indoor air. It used to be that our entire house had very poor indoor air, which forced us to move into our barn for almost 3 years while we practicly gutted our home. We now have narrowed it down to this floor as the only huge source left that I can currently detect. The kitchen is making the air downstairs very bad. The dogs are always sneezing. I can air it out and mop, but the VOCs keep building up and the particles keep flaking off and making their way to the other first floor rooms and down to the basement.

Two mops and buckets, a yellow industrial size and a normal blue bucket on a linoleum floor in a kitchen

While our contractor is not able to do the whole job right now, he is able to take one day between is current jobs and cover the floor with plywood until he is able to do the entire thing. In order to not hold up the plywood job, we picked a paint that the store had in stock. We decided to try painting the floor with a linoleum floor paint that didn't require sanding to hopefully seal it in before the plywood goes down later this week. The last thing we wanted to do was to sand down the fiberglass in the floor creating even more of a mess in the house. The first step was to scrub the floor clean with a good floor cleaner to remove the dirt so the paint sticks to the floor.

A tan linoleum floor with a white primer paint on part of the floor, a roll of paper towels, a trash can, a can of paint and a paint tray.

We painted the floor with a linoleum floor primer first.

A man in a gray shirt painting a tan linoleum floor with a x-pen cage blocking the rest of the floor from the dogs

We used an x-pen to block the dogs from walking across the wet paint.

A kitchen with blue walls and a freshly painted white linoleum floor.

After the primer went down and dried we applied the "step-two" top coat. The contractor will be out this week to put a plywood floor over it. We plan on painting the plywood with a no VOC paint that we ordered over the internet and are waiting to be delivered.

Update: Painting the floor definitely made a huge difference. The air in the entire house is fresher and not as thick, especially on the first floor. We still plan on removing the entire floor and installing a hardwood, however I would have to say that painting the floor is a very good solution for this type of floor problem.

A man carrying a sheet of plywood into a white farm house with more wood on the porch

The day came for the plywood to go down on top of the floor. I am very glad we decided to paint the linoleum first. It definitely sealed things in.

Brown plywood on top of a linoleum floor in a blue kitchen

We plan on painting the plywood with a no VOC paint until the real floor goes down.

Brown plywood on top of a linoleum floor in a blue kitchen with tools on the floor

This temporary plywood floor will be removed when the hardwood goes down. It almost looks good enough to keep, compared to what we originally had.

A kitchen floor part way painted with an olive-brown color with a paint tray and a roller

We painted over the plywood with a no-VOC paint color called “Log Cabin” because after all, who doesn’t want their kitchen to look like a log cabin? The color looked better online. It’s kind of a burnt orange with a touch of olive green, but I will take it any day over the way the old linoleum floor made us sick with it's thick feeling air of airborne glass-fibers, benzene VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and phthalates SVOCs (semi-volatile organic compounds). That being said, we may apply a third coat in another color and hope it looks better. :O I can definitely tell the VOC level of the wet paint is very low to zero.

Sharon Maguire - Updated 2-11-2020

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