Most laminate flooring has a top coat of aluminum oxide, which is very tough. Everyone says, "Don't varnish it" but so far I've not found out why. Yes, it's going to need more care -- either renewing the varnish or the usual clean and wax twice a year. In particular I want to make a somewhat mat finish glossier.

So, just what happens if you apply varnish to laminate?

Is there a stripable floor finish suitable for shining a laminate floor?

  • 1
    while varnish and polyurethane do provide a glossy finish, the main purpose of them when applied to floors is to protect the floors from physical damage and water damage. My mom has laminate flooring in her kitchen, and every 2 months or so she applies a floor polish, which works wonders. Consider a polish, it's easier to apply and dries in hours. probably more suitable for your goal. good luck.
    – 1c1cle
    Sep 30 '19 at 21:52
  • Depending on the top coating of the floor, the varnish may not stick to it very well. This will leave you with a surface that's constantly peeling off, making a mess and not looking very good. I don't know one way or the other, or what flooring finishes may or may not be compatible with varnishing, so it's just a comment, not an answer.
    – FreeMan
    Jan 20 at 15:58

It depends on the type of laminate. Some of the early styles were glued t&g if this is the style you have I might try a poly coat depending on the surface material, some are not wood and may not play well with poly, oil or latex. Of the wood and bamboo glued floors I installed poly did help. Note do not sand with a drum sander the veneer is very thin. If it is a snap lock floor I would not try to use poly as this kind of floor flexes and the poly in the gaps will probably chip along the lines and look worse but I do not know this as a fact, the one house that the renter tried to fix the floor tried to sand it prior to varnishing but had taken the surface layer off , then left knowing their deposit was less than the damage they caused.

  • You get a point for attempting an explanation. Better than "it doesn't work" Some varnishes remain flexible after drying. Marine spar varnish is one. Oct 1 '19 at 14:12
  • Wouldn't the flex at the joints be true for non T&G wood floors too? I know two face nailed floors that are varnished. Oct 1 '19 at 14:13
  • 1
    The difference with laminate it usually is designed to flex and has a foam layer beneath allowing for more flex. Face nailed flooring has very little flex because the wood is normally 3 times thicker and up to 5 times thicker than laminated and is not supposed to flex. I would use caution with marine products indoors some have inhibitors that are toxic and not for indoor use.
    – Ed Beal
    Oct 1 '19 at 14:26
  • The face nailed floor in question is 1/4" -- 6 mm -- thinner than many laminates. Indeed that's why it was face nailed. Lots of 1 3/4" wide strips of edge sawed oak. Jul 20 '20 at 7:57

If you know it's a Formica type faced flooring, then your only real bet is Rustoleum's Clear spray paint. The stuff is fantastic and quite durable. I've used it to "paint" laminated cabinets and countertops to restore warn and dull areas. I also use it on aluminum ladders to kill aluminum's marking abilities.

However, if it's quality flooring and real wood of a 16th or more thickness. Then, it can absolutely be stripped or sanded and treated like real wood. I highly recommend Bona Traffic HD Commercial as the finish product.


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