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The Ultimate Guide to Painting Tile: Everything You Need to Know


When it comes to updating the look of your home, tile can be a tough material to work with. Its durability and water-resistant properties make it a popular choice for high-traffic areas like kitchens and bathrooms, but its color and pattern options are often limited and can start to feel outdated over time.

If you're looking to refresh the look of your tile without the hassle and cost of retiling, painting might be the perfect solution. But can you paint tile? In this comprehensive guide, we'll dive into everything you need to know about painting tile, including tips from experts, the best products to use, and step-by-step instructions for a successful DIY project.

Can You Paint Tile?

The short answer is yes, you can paint tile. Whether it's ceramic, porcelain, or even natural stone, there are specific paints and primers available that can adhere to tile and provide a long-lasting, durable finish. However, it's essential to approach the project with caution and carefully follow the right steps to ensure the best results.

Emily Henderson, an interior designer and television host, says, "Painting tile can be a game-changer in a home renovation, but it's crucial to use the right products and techniques to achieve a professional-looking finish."

Before you begin, consider the condition and location of the tile. Painted floors or countertops, for example, are subject to more wear and tear than a painted backsplash, so it's essential to choose the right products for the specific area you want to paint.

Choosing the Right Paint

The first step in painting tile is to choose the right paint for the job. Unlike regular paint, which may not adhere well to tile and can chip or peel over time, there are specific paints designed for use on tile surfaces.

The two main options are epoxy or enamel paints. Both provide a durable finish and excellent adhesion to tile, but there are some differences to consider. Epoxy paint is known for its high level of durability and water resistance, making it a great choice for high-traffic areas like kitchen floors or bathroom walls. On the other hand, enamel paint offers a slightly easier application and a faster drying time, but it may not be as durable in high-traffic areas.

When choosing a paint color, keep in mind that lighter colors can help disguise any imperfections or discoloration in the tile, while darker colors can create a bold, dramatic look. It's also important to select a paint color that complements the overall aesthetic of the room.

Preparing the Tile Surface

Before you can start painting, you'll need to thoroughly clean and prepare the tile surface. This step is crucial for ensuring proper adhesion and a smooth, long-lasting finish.

  1. Clean the Tile: Use a mild cleaning solution and a scrub brush to remove any dirt, grease, or grime from the tile surface. It's essential to remove any residue that could prevent the paint from adhering properly.

  2. Sand the Tile: Lightly sand the tile to create a rough texture that will help the paint adhere. Use fine-grit sandpaper and be sure to remove any dust or debris from the tile before moving on to the next step.

  3. Prime the Tile: Apply a high-quality primer that is specifically designed for use on tile surfaces. The primer will help the paint adhere better and provide a more even finish. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for application and drying time.

Painting the Tile

With the tile surface properly prepared, it's time to start painting. Follow these steps for a successful and professional-looking finish:

  1. Choose the Right Tools: Select high-quality brushes and rollers that are designed for use with the type of paint you've chosen. A small, angled brush can help you reach corners and edges, while a high-density foam roller is ideal for larger areas.

  2. Apply the Paint: Begin by cutting in around the edges and corners with the brush, then use the roller to apply an even coat of paint to the larger areas of the tile. Be sure to apply the paint in thin, even layers for the best results.

  3. Allow for Drying Time: Depending on the type of paint you've chosen, it may require multiple coats for full coverage. Be sure to allow each coat to dry completely before applying the next one.

  4. Seal the Tile (If Necessary): Some paints may require a sealant to provide added durability and water resistance. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for the best results.

Maintaining Painted Tile

Once the tile has been painted and sealed, proper maintenance is essential for preserving the finish and ensuring long-term durability. Here are some tips for maintaining painted tile:

  • Regular Cleaning: Use a gentle cleaning solution and a soft cloth or mop to keep the painted tile clean and free of dirt and grime. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners, as these can damage the paint and finish.

  • Avoid Sharp Objects: While painted tile provides a durable and water-resistant surface, it's essential to be mindful of sharp objects that could scratch or chip the paint. Use felt pads on the bottom of furniture legs and avoid dragging heavy objects across the surface.

  • Touch-Ups: Over time, painted tile may experience normal wear and tear, especially in high-traffic areas. Keep some extra paint on hand for touch-ups as needed, and be sure to follow the proper application techniques for a seamless finish.

  • Regular Inspections: Periodically inspect the painted tile for any signs of wear, chipping, or damage. Catching and addressing these issues early can help prolong the life of the painted finish.

Can You Paint Shower Tile?

Painting shower tile can be a more challenging project due to the constant exposure to water and humidity. However, it is possible to paint shower tile with the right products and techniques. Like any painted tile surface, proper preparation and the use of high-quality, waterproof paint and sealant are essential for success.

Before embarking on a shower tile painting project, it's important to carefully consider the level of wear and tear the tile will endure. For example, shower floors are subject to more water and foot traffic than shower walls, so special attention should be paid to the products and sealants used.

Emily Henderson advises, "If you're considering painting shower tile, it's essential to use a high-quality, waterproof paint and sealant to ensure that the finish holds up to the constant exposure to moisture and humidity."

DIY vs. Hiring a Professional

While painting tile can be a rewarding and cost-effective way to update the look of your home, it's essential to consider the scope of the project and your comfort level with DIY tasks. Small, manageable areas like backsplashes or fireplace surrounds may be suitable for a DIY project, but larger or more complex areas like kitchen floors or shower tile may benefit from professional assistance.

Factors to consider when determining whether to DIY or hire a professional include the size of the project, your experience with painting and home improvement projects, and the level of preparation and attention to detail required for a successful finish. A professional painting contractor may have the expertise and tools necessary to ensure a high-quality, long-lasting finish, especially in more challenging areas like shower tile.


When it comes to updating the look of your home, painting tile can be an excellent option for refreshing outdated or worn surfaces. With the right products, preparation, and techniques, it's possible to achieve a professional-looking finish that can transform the look of any room.

Whether you're tackling a small DIY project or considering hiring a professional, it's essential to carefully consider the type of tile surface, the best products for the job, and the level of wear and tear the painted tile will endure. With proper maintenance and attention to detail, painted tile surfaces can provide a durable, long-lasting finish for years to come.

So, can you paint tile? Absolutely. With the right approach and a little creativity, painting tile can be a game-changer in your home renovation endeavors.

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