Ceramic tile is a building material made from clay that has been molded into tiles and fired to create a hard surface. Glazed ceramic tiles are commonly used for floors, walls, countertops, and showers. A specialty form of ceramic tile, porcelain, is made from finer clays fired under higher temperatures and is a harder and more durable form of tile. Porcelains are an increasingly popular form of tile in residential use.
Properly installed, ceramic tile can last for many decades, which can be both a virtue and a drawback. Ceramic tile lasts so long that many a homeowner has grown weary of its color and style. But it might surprise you to know that ceramic tile can be transformed by painting it. You can renovate an entire kitchen or countertop, for example, by simply painting tile that has become old, dingy, or outdated.
Compared to installing new countertops, painting ceramic tile countertops can certainly be a cost-saving measure. You can do the work yourself, or there are certified companies who can do the work for you.
Painting tile requires some special preparation steps, though. The shiny surfaces on glazed ceramic tiles do not bond well to paint, so it is important to sand and scuff the surfaces to provide “tooth” for the paint to stick to. And there are a number of important cautions and limitations to keep in mind before you decide to paint your ceramic tile.
Picking the Right Paint
Any color of paint can be used on ceramic tile, and colors can be custom-matched to other painted surfaces or other decorative elements in the room. However, since the paint can eventually wear or scratch off, it’s best to limit your efforts to ceramic tile on vertical surfaces (walls and backsplashes) or on countertops. You’ll also want to select a top-quality, 100 percent acrylic semi-gloss primer and paint. Painting ceramic tile will require several days of careful effort, and the better the materials you use, the longer the paint job will last.
When painting ceramic tile, the primer and paint should be thinned slightly, and you should plan to apply several thin layers of paint, rather than one thick layer. Use brushes to cut in the edges and roll the surface with a lint-free low-nap roller.
For a more realistic look, use a small artist’s brush to paint the grout lines in a contrasting color after the final field coat has dried thoroughly. This will require a lot of patience, but the results will be amazing. You can use a straightedge to guide your brush while painting the grout lines.
Before You Begin
Not all ceramic tile surfaces are good candidates for successful painting. For example, it’s important not to paint a ceramic tile floor unless the main area of traffic will be covered by a rug. Foot traffic and simple friction will quickly wear off paint from ceramic tile floor surfaces.
Ceramic tile surfaces in a shower or near a bathtub are also bad candidates for painting, because the constant moisture may cause the paint to peel off fairly quickly.
Some additional things to keep in mind before painting ceramic tile:
- To preserve the painted finish on a tile countertop, you will always need to use a cutting board. Knife blades will easily score and scratch the paint layer on ceramic tile.
- Never place hot pans on a painted ceramic tile counter. The heat can cause the painted finish to bubble and peel.
- The surface of your painted ceramic tile will be only as good as the base you paint over. If the grout is broken or cracked, repair it at least 48 hours ahead of painting day. If the tile is cracked or gouged, replace them or fill in the imperfections.
- It will take about two weeks for the paint to thoroughly dry and cure. You must be patient so that the surface will last.
- Preparation and careful execution is crucial to a successful job. Take the time to clean, sand, dust, dry, and paint very carefully.
Source: The Spruce