Can I Apply a Polyurethane Finish to My Laminate Floors?

laminate wood flooring

Laminate floors are often used as an affordable wood alternative because they have the same look and feel as hardwood. Laminate flooring is usually created with a very thin layer of real wood placed between layers of resin. Many homeowners find laminate floors more durable and easier to care for than actual hardwood floors.

The look of the two materials is where the similarities end, however. When it comes to finishing laminate flooring, you don't want to treat it the same way you would hardwood.

Putting Polyurethane on Laminate

Applying a coat of polyurethane is a common way to finish hardwood floors—it keeps moisture out of the cracks and grain of the wood, which prevents swelling and preserves the natural look of the hardwood. Polyurethane sticks well to real wood and creates an invisible layer of protection to the floors to protect them against scratching, staining, and wear. However, polyurethane doesn't have a similar effect on laminate flooring.

polyurethane on laminated wood

While you can add a layer of polyurethane to laminate flooring, it's really not the best material to use. Polyurethane doesn't stick well to laminate floors, which are already covered in resin because of the way laminate is made. You can't sand down laminate in order to get the polyurethane to stick, so there's no way to improve the cohesion between the two. Polyurethane simply isn't a good option for laminate floors, but you can seal them in other ways to keep them looking great for as long as possible.

installing laminate wood flooring

Sealing Laminate Floors

To prevent moisture from seeping in between the cracks of laminate floors, you can always use a crack sealer. Look for sealers that are specifically designed to work on laminate so you can ensure that you get a strong bond between the laminate and the sealer you use. You'll apply this directly to the cracks between laminate floorboards or tiles. Wipe away the excess to give your project a neat, finished look. You want to allow the sealant to settle and dry for 24 hours before you use your floors.

You can also get a special laminate coating to apply directly to your laminate floors. These coatings are designed just for laminate to preserve the look and help prevent scratches and stains.

Touching Up Your Floors

If your laminate floors do become dull or damaged, you can always try to repair these issues with a touch-up kit. Get a special laminate touch-up kit and follow the directions to apply laminate restorer directly to the problem area.

laminate wood flooring up close

Preserving Laminate

By its nature, laminate flooring stands up to ordinary wear and tear. It's low-maintenance, easy to clean, and withstands heavy foot traffic and daily use. Because of the way it's made, laminate flooring doesn't need any additional treatment after it's been put in place. So you don't actually have to seal your laminate floors or give them any additional treatment. Even without any extra care, laminate floors will stay beautiful and withstand daily use far better than most hardwood floors.

laminate wood flooring

Adding sealers and special coatings to laminate floors can actually make them highly slippery, which is a hazard. Most laminate flooring isn't designed to be sealed and doesn't need to be sealed. The resin coating that's already used on laminate provides plenty of protection against scratches, stains, and wear.

If you see that your laminate floors are looking dull and want to give them extra shine, try a specialized laminate floor cleaning product. These products are designed to restore the sine to laminate and fix dull areas to make your floors look like new again.

You can add polyurethane to your laminate floors, but there’s no reason that you'd want to! It won’t work all that well, and there are much better ways to get the pretty, gleaming look you want for your laminate floors, whether they’ve been damaged or simply dulled over time.

Apply a Polyurethane Finish to Laminate Floors FAQ

Is there a way to seal laminate flooring?

Laminate flooring can be sealed to make it more waterproof. Around the edges of the floor near the walls, use caulk to create a tight seal and help prevent moisture from water leaks.

It is also possible to seal laminate flooring with a clear polyurethane, which can be painted directly onto the floor with a paintbrush.

What can you put over laminate flooring?

If you want to cover up laminate flooring, there are a number of things you can put on top of laminate. It can be painted, for starters, but you can also place a new laminate floor over the existing one.

Tiles, foam, vinyl, and any number of flooring materials can be installed on top of laminate floors.

Can we apply varnish on laminate?

Varnish is not typically made to be applied to laminate flooring. A clear coat of polyurethane coating can be added, however, which has a similar effect to varnish.

What not to use on laminate floors?

Laminate floors are highly durable but they are not impervious to damage. Many household cleaners can damage laminate, as can exposure to moisture.

Avoid bleach, acetone, ammonia, and other harsh chemicals, as these can cause discoloration and damage. Moisture can cause floors to warp and laminate can become permanently damaged when exposed to liquid.

What will make laminate shine?

Simple cleaning and mopping should be enough to get laminate floors looking shiny again. Try mixing a few drops of standard dish soap in a gallon of water and mop laminate floors with this to bring out their luster.