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Can You Paint Shower Tile? Is it a Good Idea?

blue shower tiles

In many cases, you can paint many types of bathroom tiles. For instance, ceramic, stone, and quarry tile can all be painted with ease. However, some types of tiles cannot be painted. Glazed quarry tile falls into this category, as the paint won’t stick easily. Furthermore, just because you can paint tile doesn’t necessarily mean you should.

In many cases, tile must be painted many times to ensure an even coat. Tiles usually don’t have a flat surface, which means that they must be painted from many different angles. Some tiles will be easier to paint than others.

Furthermore, the paint will wear down faster due to the high moisture level. For instance, it will fade and peel before paint in other areas. Sometimes, you can find special paint designed to withstand moisture better, but it usually doesn’t last as long as in other areas.

You can expect these areas to require more maintenance and frequent re-painting. You’ll likely want a strong epoxy paint, as well.

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Does Painting Shower Tile Last?

Yes and no. When done correctly and with the right paint, paint on shower tile can last for a bit. However, due to the high moisture level, you will need to put more work into maintaining this paint, which includes repainting more than in other areas. It will not last forever, so you should schedule regular maintenance to keep it looking sleek.

You’ll want to use a bonding primer to coat everything evenly. Furthermore, stronger epoxy paint is likely your best choice, as it can withstand moisture better. Preparing the area and letting the pain dry completely before hopping in the shower is also important to ensure the paint lasts as long as possible.

worker painting old tiles
Image Credit: ristof Bellens, Shutterstock

Can I Paint Over Tile and Grout in the Shower?

If you’re painting over time, you’ll likely want to paint over the grout, too. Keep in mind, while this is possible, it won’t last as long as in other areas. However, it will often take much less money to paint tile than to replace it so we recommend giving this option a try if you want to update your bathroom.

Grout has a harder time holding paint but if you prime the area correctly, the paint will last longer. We do suggest that you plan on doing regular maintenance, as the paint won’t last as long in the shower as it would somewhere else. Re-painting is important to keep it looking new.

Do Painted Tiles Look Cheap?

It depends on the painted tiles. Sometimes, painted tiles can look high-end and quite fancy. However, they can also be poorly done, which makes them look cheap. Furthermore, this paint will also come off sooner than your typical paint so you’ll need to re-paint regularly, or it will start peeling and fading.

Of course, worn-down tile often looks quite cheap and so the upkeep is vital to keeping the tiles looking fresh and well done.

Of course, painting tile is much cheaper than replacing it. So, this is an economical method for freshening up a bathroom. As long as the tile isn’t cracked, you can repaint it to make it look new. You can often spend less than $100 on a whole bathroom. If you’re just painting the shower, you can spend much less.

On the other hand, retiling a shower or bathroom can cost upwards of $1,000, depending on the material. Retiling is often far out of the budget for most homeowners, though you can likely repaint it in a way that fits within your monthly budget.

What Kind of Paint Do You Use for Shower Tiles?

For showers, you should use strong epoxy paint to prevent the pain from rubbing off any time soon.  When exposed to lots of moisture, many kinds of paint will peel and fade. Epoxy paint will wear down slower than other types of pain in this regard, which is why we recommend it. It tends to stand up to moisture a bit better than other options.

You can use either pre-mix or ready-to-mix varieties, though these will differ in their exact painting methods. In the end, they will have the same result. We recommend getting a mildew-proof option, which will make the paint last longer. The last thing you want is mildew-covered paint in your shower, after all.

You can also use latex paint. However, this is often more expensive and comes in fewer varieties. It is less smelly and toxic, though, making it a better choice for some families. It only works on ceramic, porcelain, or unglazed quarry tiles, though.

Natural stone tiles are a bit different. In this case, we do recommend using acrylic latex paint. These are designed for interior masonry. However, a glossy finish will make the tiles slippery, so aim for a matte or close-to-matte finish for this sort of paint.

Tile Paint
Image By: kepazuria, Shutterstock

Why Should You Paint Shower Tile?

There are several reasons you may want to paint shower tile instead of replacing it. For one, it is much cheaper. As we previously stated, purchasing enough paint for a shower usually costs around $50 to $100, depending on the size of the shower and the paint. On the other hand, replacing the tile may cost as much as $500 to even $1,000.

Therefore, for those on a strict budget, this is an extremely economical option.

You can also paint patterns far cheaper than purchasing tiles with patterns. Therefore, if you’re looking for patterned tile, your best bet is to paint it unless you have a large budget to play with. Basic ceramic tile is affordable, but ornate ones are more expensive. Many people purchase the cheaper tile and then paint an ornate pattern on top.

In the end, this is much cheaper.

Plus, painting is much faster and can be done easier by most home DIYers so it is generally a better option for those with less DIY experience. Otherwise, you may find yourself committing to a project that you don’t have the skills to complete or needing to hire a professional.

In the end, this cost far more than simply painting the tiles, to begin with, on top of being faster and easier.

The only downside of paint is that it won’t last as long—you’ll find yourself needing to do more maintenance in the long run.

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Conclusion

Painting tiles can be done if you use the correct paint. Epoxy is recommended. However, the type of tile you’re painting does matter. Natural stone requires acrylic latex—not epoxy. Therefore, be sure to research the correct type of paint, as this will help you in the long run.

Painting tile is pretty straightforward. Most homeowners with little DIY experience can paint tiles without a problem. However, because it is regularly exposed to high moisture levels, it can result in the paint fading and peeling faster. For this reason, you’ll usually find yourself needing to do more maintenance.

While painting tiles is cheaper and easier on the front end, it requires more work in the long run. This isn’t a project you can do once and then forget about. It’ll need regular touchups.


Featured Image Credit: engin akyurt, Unsplash

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