Is Vinyl Flooring Recyclable? (And Can You Paint it?)

Have you ever walked into someone’s home and found yourself suddenly stunned by how beautiful the flooring is? Alternatively, you may also have your vinyl flooring at home and may have picked the most aesthetically appealing from the available range of options.

Vinyl flooring is becoming increasingly popular among homeowners and interior decorators and is even the fastest growing flooring category. It’s excellent for both commercial and domestic purposes because of how affordable it is. In addition, it has various unique designs and is very durable – it can last as long as 15 years or even more.

This flooring comes in three different types; rigid tiles, flexible tiles or planks. It’s perfect for those parts of your home that have the most foot traffic. It’s very easy to install, which is a huge plus when you want to renovate a room or your home. They are also waterproof when installed correctly.

So, how do you go about the process when you’re disposing of the leftover, damaged or old vinyl tiles? Is it toxic to the environment? Is recycling one of your viable disposal options? Please, read on for more information about the end of the lifespan of vinyl flooring. Let’s get started!

Can You Recycle Vinyl Flooring?

Vinyl flooring is a product made from polyvinyl chloride, popularly known as PVC. It’s plastic that’s both light and durable. Although it’s common knowledge that plastics are easily recyclable, the same is not the case with vinyl flooring. One of the major problems, however, is finding a recycling center for it.

Recycling centers require a steady supply of recyclable materials to make a profit. But PVC products are recycled in low volume, and as a result, there are very few vinyl recycling centers in most areas. In addition, vinyl flooring has a poor economy, making it difficult for recycling plants and consumers wishing to recycle.

Vinyl flooring is made from PVC, which cannot be recycled with other plastics because of the likelihood of contamination. But they can be recycled into other vinyl products if you can find a recycling center willing to take them on.

If the one in your region doesn’t make provision for recycling this material, you can use the internet to find the nearest one that accepts vinyl flooring waste.

Vinyl is a plastic that is quite difficult to recycle. However, vinyl flooring can be crushed into ground pellets that’ll be melted to create other vinyl products. And you can recycle vinyl products up to eight times. This is because recycling vinyl doesn’t have any effect on the chain length of its molecules.

So, even though recycling vinyl is difficult and most recyclers don’t take it on, its waste is important in manufacturing other vinyl products.

Can You Paint Vinyl Flooring?

Over time, your vinyl floors are likely to get dented with holes or have stains that are too hideous to ignore, and the best quick fix may be to paint over them. However, if it’s not necessary, don’t do it, no matter how tempting it may be.

Generally speaking, painting vinyl floors is not recommended. This is because vinyl flooring surfaces don’t accept paint and are likely to get even more dirty, waxed and stained, which further prevents the paint from bonding to the surface. Besides, merely painting your floors won’t hide those dents, holes or stains.

Nevertheless, painting vinyl flooring is not impossible. It’ll only require a series of prepping and a lot of materials and tools such as regular latex primer, painter’s tape, paint, liquid de-glosser, detergent and water, paint rollers and brushes, a clean mop or cloth, sandpaper, sander, rubber gloves and protective goggles.

Here’s how to carry out the process:

1. Clean the Floor Properly

A good rub and scrub are important before you proceed to paint your floors. All you need is a clean cloth or mop dipped in some soap and water to clean. Ensure you allow the floor to dry properly.

2. Sanding Down the Floor and Removing the Shiny Finish

For this, you can use either a machine-operated sander or a sanding pole to sand the vinyl flooring till the shiny finish is completely removed. However, the machine-operated sander will save you a lot of time and energy.

3. Apply Liquid De-glosser

Apply liquid de-glosser with a very long paint roller on the surface of your vinyl flooring. De-glossing helps to improve the flooring’s bonding with the paint.

4. Apply Primer

It’s important to line the walls with painter’s tape before applying the primer to avoid splashing paint on the walls. You can then apply the primer with a long paint roller. Then you wait for the primer to dry.

5. Paint!

Finally, you can begin painting. Painting vinyl floors is easier than painting walls, as you can pour the paint on the floor and use the paint roller to smooth it out. You can also use a paintbrush to paint along with trims and in corners.  

Afterward, wait for the paint to dry and admire your work.

It’s important to note that painting over your vinyl floors is not a long-term solution. You might only be able to get about 6-12 months out of a well-done paint job. For a long-term fix, replacing your dented vinyl floors with new ones will be the best solution.

Is Vinyl Flooring Bad For the Environment?

Although vinyl flooring gives a beautiful finish to our homes, it can be quite dangerous to our health and the environment. For the manufacturers, dioxins are produced while manufacturing the chloride in PVC used to make vinyl floors.

These dioxins can pose a health risk to anyone exposed to them, and this danger extends to the environment surrounding the manufacturing plants.

Vinyl flooring can also release volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) into the air shortly after initial installation because of the materials used in manufacturing it. VOCs are toxic substances that are harmful to the air quality within the environment and can lead to serious respiratory issues after some time.

In the advent of a fire outbreak, whether large or just a small burn, your vinyl floors will begin to emit toxic fumes that can fill the air with dioxins.

Vinyl flooring is non-biodegradable and takes long years to decompose. So, when it is sent to waste centres, it just occupies space for years. It’s also not easy to recycle because the recycling process needs the recyclers to have a consistent level of various substances throughout the material makeup of the vinyl.

Different types of vinyl have different compositions, often making them incompatible for recycling.

Is Vinyl Flooring Combustible?

The simple answer is No. Vinyl flooring is both fire-retardant and flame resistant; this means it’s a particularly good material to prevent the spread of fires. It resists ignition and stops burning once you take the source of the fire away.

Vinyl composition planks are typically resistant to fire, but the adhesives and chemicals used to glue them to the floors are highly flammable. So, while vinyl is not entirely fire-proof, it isn’t a fire hazard either. It offers a lot of safety when it comes to fire protection around your house.

Is Vinyl Flooring Toxic?

A lot of homeowners opt for vinyl flooring because it’s versatile, economically friendly and also durable. This is because vinyl is made from petroleum-based synthetic products, PVC resin and other additives like plasticizers, stabilizers, pigments and fillers, which keep them strong, flexible and give them their color sheen.

Vinyl flooring is made from processed plastic that contains toxic phthalates, lead, cadmium, brominated flame retardants, and other toxic chemicals.

Also, the adhesives used in installing vinyl floors contain lead that can release harmful toxins when exposed to flames. These chemicals can lead to indoor pollution by permeating the flooring and contaminating the quality of air, water, and surfaces within homes.

Contamination occurs through inhalation, exposure and ingestion. So, if you have toddlers at home who like to crawl about and pick things off the floor into their mouths, you might want to have a rethink before installing vinyl floors.

Due to these materials used in its production, vinyl releases some levels of volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) into the air for some time, usually about 3 to 5 weeks after installation. However, ventilating the area where the installation was done can affect how long the smell from the chemicals will last.

Exposure to these harmful chemicals vinyl floors emit can cause serious health damage such as respiratory allergies and diseases, especially to the older population, pregnant women, and children.

Clinical studies have shown that children born to women exposed to phthalates during pregnancy have a high chance of being asthmatic.

Some of the symptoms that you might experience after being exposed to the dangerous toxins released by these floors include but are not limited to; headaches, nausea, skin irritations, fatigue, dizziness, eye, nose and throat irritation, liver and kidney damage and conjunctival irritation.

What Can You Do With Scrap Vinyl Flooring?

Now that you know how difficult it is to recycle vinyl flooring, it’s best to explore other means of disposing of it. You can do many things with scrap vinyl flooring, especially within your home, to give it a different look. Some of them include:

1. Furniture Improvement

You can use it to create an inexpensive headboard or use it to decorate your built-in cabinets. If you have a plain headboard or cabinet that you’ve been looking to spruce up, you can use the leftover adhesive from installing your vinyl floors to attach the tiles firmly to these furniture pieces. Since the tiles come in different colors, they make a great addition to your home décor.

2. Lining for Your Bathroom and Kitchen Walls

You can use it to create accent walls in your bathrooms by attaching them to your bathtub or vanity. Or you can add some extra warmth to your kitchen by using it to beautify your kitchen counters. They’re cheaper and aesthetically pleasing replacements for ceramic tiles, commonly used to line bathrooms.

3. Lining Pantry Shelves

You can very easily use the offcuts to line your pantry shelves, which will be even better if you have wire shelves.

4. Backdrops

Vinyl flooring can also be used as backdrops for photographs. So, if you are a photographer, blogger, or influencer, save up your vinyl flooring scraps as backdrops or flat-lay for your next photo session.

5. Lining Garbage Cans

Finally, vinyl scraps can be used as liners for garbage dumps, helping to contain waste products that might spill over the garbage perimeter.


Vinyl flooring is an excellent construction material that’s superior in quality, appeal, affordability, versatility, and durability. However, it also has its downsides and can be harmful to the environment.

As such, it’s best to dispose of it properly, and we’ve provided enough tips to go about that in this blog post.

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About Rinkesh

A true environmentalist by heart ❤️. Founded Conserve Energy Future with the sole motto of providing helpful information related to our rapidly depleting environment. Unless you strongly believe in Elon Musk‘s idea of making Mars as another habitable planet, do remember that there really is no 'Planet B' in this whole universe.