Can You Paint Bathroom Tile? Cheaply & Easily!
Author: Rick Worst | Editor: Omar Alonso
Review & Research: Jen Worst & Chris Miller
Painting bathroom tile is an easy and cost-effective way to give your space a fresh look. With the proper preparation and products, you can get professional results without hiring an expert. Yes, you can you paint bathroom tile. It's possible and you, yourself, can do it.
Although it may take some time for the project to be complete, you will be left with a beautiful transformation in your bathroom that is way easier than completely replacing the tiles. Get ready to learn how to paint over bathroom tile.
6 Steps to Painting Over Bathroom Tile
Painting bathroom tile is a tricky job due to the nature of the materials that tile is usually made of. Thankfully there's no need for tile removal tools and any demolition and rebuilding. Ceramic, porcelain, and other non-porous surfaces aren't great candidates for regular wall paint as they typically cannot penetrate them deep enough to adhere properly.
Additionally, many tiles will have glazes designed to protect against water damage, mold growth, bacteria, and scratches, all factors that would render paint ineffective. Many people leave this task to professional painters with the experience and expertise to paint your bathroom tile successfully.
But if you're confident in your DIY skills, here are six steps to painting your bathroom tiles:
- Choose the right paint
- Prepare your bathroom for painting
- Make sure the tile is clean and smooth
- Apply primer
- Use multiple thin coats
- Should you paint the grout?
Please read through the entire procedure before you get started. You need to know what to expect so there’s no surprises. Make sure you have all of your materials on hand before you begin.
1) Choose the Right Paint
To achieve the best results on bathroom tiles, it's essential to use a paint formulated explicitly for tiling. Can you paint bathroom tile? Yes, but you have to match the right paint to the right tile type. Various types of paint are available for different tile surfaces. Your bathroom tile is probably one of the following:
- Ceramic tile
- Vinyl or laminate tile
- Glass tile
- Stone tile
Water-based are the best when considering paint on bathroom floor tiles. Generally, this type of paint will withstand humid conditions better than oil-based paints and comes in several varieties.
Acrylic paints are more flexible, preventing peeling and cracking. Acrylic is also very washable, as is latex. Latex is safer because it dries quickly and does not emit volatile chemicals. Water-based paints formulated for tile use are typical for decorating areas like bathrooms, so make sure you look for these products when shopping for your next project.
Finally, epoxy can be an option, with two parts that produce a hard finish when correctly applied. Mixing two different components to create a solid finishing material can appear daunting at first, but it's usually worth the effort in order to achieve a more resistant finish.
This mixture needs to be left for several minutes prior to being applied, and once it has dried, it will give you a surface that is less vulnerable to scratches, cracks, or peeling. Though this type of mixture may be more challenging to work with than other materials when painting walls, any additional effort put in pays off due to its sturdier quality.
Latex paint is the way to go if your bathroom tiles are made of ceramic. This paint easily sticks to the ceramic surface, giving fuller coverage with fewer coats. A reliable brand of latex paint can help you save time while achieving a smooth finish.
Vinyl & Laminate
When painting vinyl and laminate tiles, it's generally recommended to use latex floor paint instead of acrylic wall paint. Acrylic paint often requires multiple coats, resulting in an unattractive, tacky surface. Latex paint is designed to hold up better with foot traffic over time than wall paint. These aren't usually actually tiles but a shower tile alternative that looks like tile.
If you're planning to paint glass tile, acrylic paint is often the best. To prevent scratches from forming over time, consider investing in acrylic enamel. The enamel's increased elasticity provides an extra layer of protection and durability. Plus, it's an entirely water-based product that doesn't contain harsh chemicals, which is perfect if you want an eco-friendly painting solution.
Latex is always an excellent choice when choosing paint for stone bathroom tiles. Stone's porous texture makes latex better suited to adhere to the tile surface, resulting in better durability. Opt for an interior masonry or stucco formula of latex paint for the best results. Latex paint with a flat finish offers traction and increased safety on typically slippery surfaces. Can you paint bathroom tile? Yes, especially stone.
2) Prepare Your Bathroom for Painting
Painting over bathroom tile should only happen after some pep work. Before beginning any painting job, you want to make sure that the area you're working with is cleared and open. Remove any bathroom supplies, shower curtains, and rugs that might slow you down.
Open windows and doors to prevent toxic paint fumes from accumulating. For extra safety, consider wearing a dust mask and having a fan blowing out of the room during this process. Preparing the area is a crucial part of the painting job and provides you with an optimal workspace to do your best work.
3) Make Sure the Tile Is Clean & Smooth
Before painting, bathroom tiles need to be thoroughly cleaned. Oil, dirt, and soap scum stick to tiles, so use an abrasive bathroom cleaner to remove it all. Consider cleaning the tile with bleach so you don't seal in any mold accidentally. Do the same if you're going to paint your toilet as well.
Follow up with a damp sponge before drying the surface with a clean cloth. Sanding is essential for ceramic, laminate, and vinyl tile, but it might not be necessary for glass or stone tiles.
Sanding removes the existing tile glaze and makes it easier for the paint to adhere. Use fine sandpaper somewhere between 180-220 grit to prevent any unwanted damage to the tile. If you're looking for a faster method, try using a handheld orbital or palm sander.
Apply only light pressure to the tile while sanding to prevent removing too much material from the surface of the tiles. When you have finished lightly sanding, either by hand or with the sander, use a damp cloth to pull up any remaining dust from the tiles. Give the tiles plenty of time to fully dry before moving on with your project.
4) Apply Primer Paint
Can you paint bathroom tile? Yes, but regardless of the type of bathroom tile, you should always use a type of primer paint that matches the main paint you're using before applying that paint. However, an extra step is required with stone: sealing it with a sealant. This provides a uniform surface for the primer and paint to adhere to for a smoother result that won't easily peel away.
The sealant also protects the stone from damage caused by the painting process. To ensure the best possible outcome, make sure that the primer and paint have the same formulation. For example, if you plan on using latex paint, choose a latex primer.
Also, because tile surfaces are porous, selecting products specifically made for tiles will get you more reliable results. Apply the primer evenly and per instructions; most drying times range from one to four hours, depending on brand and type.
5) Use Multiple Thin Coats
Applying paint is arguably the most important part of the job, and you have to get it right to achieve a great result! After the primer has dried, begin with your first layer. If you use epoxy paint, you may find that only one coat is needed.
However, latex and acrylic paints will likely require a minimum of two coats, so ensure each coat is allowed to dry properly before applying the next. That way, your new coat will adhere better and create a professional-looking finish.
6) Should You Paint The Grout?
It's possible to paint the grout along with your bathroom tile for a completely new look. Instead of taping off the grout, you can paint it just like the rest of your tiles for an even look. Before beginning, ensure that the grout is as clean as possible.
This will prevent mold or mildew from being trapped under the paint, leading to health concerns later. While some grout is waterproof, you don't want to seal in any organic matter underneath it to grow outside of your ability to clean it.
Can You Paint Bathroom Tile? You Sure Can!
Can bathroom tile be painted? Yep! Painting bathroom tile may seem daunting, but with the proper preparation, it can be a relatively painless process. Start by giving your surface a thorough clean to get rid of any stubborn dirt and grime.
Then sand down the tiles to create a smooth canvas for painting. When it's time to start painting, make sure you use any standard types of paint brushes on the grout lines between tiles and then roll over the whole tile surface to even out brushstrokes.
Finally, don't forget to prime the tile before applying the color or sealant to ensure that your job stands up to wear and tear. Painting your bathroom tiles will create a fresh new look that stands the test of time, so don't be afraid to give it a try! So can you paint bathroom tile? Absolutely.