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Can You Paint Ceramic Tile? 5 Easy Steps


Renovating your space can be an expensive task. If you have just bought a home, you might not have money right away for a costly renovation, and yet you may feel that those orange sherbet-colored ceramic floor tiles have simply got to go. Painting ceramic tile can be a budget-friendly alternative to replacing your flooring or backsplash, but it might not be the best quality renovation project in the long run. Here are some tips and tricks on the best way to paint ceramic tiles, at least until you have enough money for a complete redo.

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Can You Paint Any Ceramic Tile?

Yes! The secret is in the prep and the paint.

If you’re painting floor tiles, you should take the time to really scrub the floor before you begin to avoid unnecessary surface roughness. Because of the nature of ceramic, the final painted surface will already probably have slight bubbles, so you don’t want any unsightly mud clods hidden under the paint. You should also make sure you prime the tiles, choose paint designed to be used on flooring, and then seal the painted tiles before anyone walks on it. As much as possible, don’t allow anything to scrape the floor even after the sealant is dry because paint doesn’t stick to ceramic as well as wood, and it’s more likely to chip.

In addition to floor tiles, you might have a ceramic backsplash in your kitchen, or ceramic bathroom tiles behind your sink. While you can certainly paint any ceramic, we don’t recommend painting over ceramic anywhere you expect a lot of moisture, such as in bathrooms or behind the kitchen sink. If you have a portion of the kitchen backsplash that’s away water and the steam of the dishwater, or you have a wet bar that could use a little touch-up, then go for it.

assorted ceramic tiles
Photo Credit By: Natali Glado, Shutterstock

What Not to Do

Avoiding these few common pitfalls can determine whether you love your new ceramic tile, or if you feel guilty for wasting a Saturday and a bucket of paint.

Here are a few things not to do when painting your ceramic tile:
  • Pick the Wrong Area: A heavily trafficked area probably won’t hold up as well since the paint may chip easily. Also, avoid areas with high moisture concentration such as near a stove, sink, shower, or dishwasher.
  • Skip Steps: Neglecting to clean the surface, or not applying primer or sealant may ruin your project. If you take time to do a thorough job, the paint may last a year or more.
  • Buy the Wrong Type of Paint: Paint that’s meant for a wall won’t hold up to foot traffic. You should use paint that’s intended for use on flooring for best results if you’re painting the floor tiles. If you’re painting a backsplash, use high-gloss or semi-gloss paint with a latex, oil, or epoxy base.
  • Expect a Permanent Solution: While painting ceramic tile can be an inexpensive way to spruce up your home, it won’t last forever. If you really enjoy the new look, you’ll just need to re-apply another coat as needed to maintain the desired result.

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Before You Begin

Materials Needed
  • Cleaning supplies (broom, dustpan, mop if it’s floor tiles; paper towels and tile cleaner if it’s a backsplash, etc.)
  • Painter’s tape
  • High-adhesion primer
  • Floor paint
  • Paint roller
  • Paint tray
  • Sealant
Woman is cleaning the floor
Photo Credit By: VSstockstudio, Shutterstock

The 5 Steps on How to Paint Ceramic Tile

If you’re determined to give this DIY idea a try, here are the steps you’ll need to take:

1. Scrub the Tiles

If you’re painting the floor, thoroughly sweep away all the larger debris, and use the mop to remove any dirt and dust particles before you begin. If you’re painting tiles on a backsplash or similar medium, wipe them down with tile cleaner and some paper towels. Wait for the surface to dry completely before continuing to step two.

2. Protect the Surrounding Area with Painter’s Tape

Apply painter’s tape around the edges of the baseboards, or anywhere the paint roller could accidentally touch.

woman putting painters tape on the edges before painting wall
Photo Credit By: kurhan, Shutterstock

3. Apply High-adhesion Primer

Follow the directions on the bucket. You may want to use several coats of primer to encourage the paint to stick.

4. Paint

After allowing sufficient time for the last coat of primer to dry, you can begin rolling paint. Let dry completely before moving onto the next step.

man mixing green paint
Image Credit: M_Agency, Shutterstock

5. Apply Sealant

This is such a crucial step for your project to be a success. You should not only apply sealant, but also allow it ample time to dry before using it or walking on it. The recommended drying time is often 7 days but read the recommended drying times on the container for best results.

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Although it’s not necessarily a permanent solution, painting over ceramic tiles can give you a quick and simple fix for an outdated floor or backsplash. Taking the time to prep, prime, paint, and seal can give you a more desirable look and longer wear than if you rushed the process, so slow down, turn on some music, and enjoy completing the project. In just a few hours, you’ll have a new floor that costs you $100 or less, as opposed to possibly hundreds or even thousands for new tile.

Featured Image Credit: kepazuria, Shutterstock


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