Replacing ceramic or porcelain tile adds value to a home. But new tile can be expensive. Tile-setting, too, is difficult to master—many do-it-yourselfers opt for professional tile-setting. If that wasn’t enough, demolishing and disposing of old tile is laborious, messy, and hardly environmentally friendly.
Painting tile is a faster, lower cost, significantly cleaner alternative to full tile replacement. It’s a project that can extend the life of the tile and restore it to an almost-new appearance.
Basics of Painting Tile
Painting tile is unlike many other painting projects because tile surfaces are not designed to be painted. Tile surfaces are often glazed to a high sheen to repel practically anything—dirt, smudges, dust, oil, and yes, paint. But there are some tricks to ensure you can successfully paint your tile and enjoy a longer lifespan.
- Choose the best surface: Painting tile works best on vertical surfaces such as dry or low-moisture walls or backsplashes. It also works well on low-impact horizontal surfaces such as select tile countertops.
- Clean the tile: Because tile is a protective surface, years of dirt and grime can be difficult to remove. Take time to thoroughly clean all areas of the tile, especially the grout seams.
- Scuff the tile: Glossy surfaces shed paint more easily. Sanding the tile surface creates a matte finish that helps the paint stick better and longer.
- Use tile paint only: Acrylic-latex interior or exterior house paints should not be used when painting tile. For better results and maximum durability, use epoxy paint or paint designated as tile paint.
Pros and Cons of Painting Tiles
Avoids removal of the existing tile
Provides a chance to fix minor tile problems
Less expensive than tile replacement
The paint may peel over time
Covers the grout in addition to the tile
Requires extensive preliminary work
Tile Paint Types
Understanding the main types of tile paint can help you choose the one best for your project.
One-Part Epoxy Paint: One-part epoxies are easy to work with since multiple coats are not required. One-paint epoxies are air-cured products. By contrast, multi-stage epoxies cure by a chemical process. Some one-part epoxies are found in spray can form.
Two-Part Epoxy Paint: After one component is mixed with a second component, the resulting substance is brushed or rolled onto the tile. It’s usually easier to find two-part epoxies, so more choices are available.
Two-Process Paint: This type of tile paint requires two separate steps. First, you apply a bonding agent. Second, you apply the top finish coat. Two-process tile paint is tough and long-lasting.
Source: The Spruce