November 25, 2020
With proper installation, care, and maintenance, ceramic tiles in your bathroom can serve you for decades.
While they’re built to last and won’t quit on you, these tiles do get old, look tired, and can ruin an otherwise stunning bathroom.
At this point, your bathroom is in dire need of a facelift. But what to do?
Do you tear those tiles down and re-tile an entire bathroom?
Well, not so fast.
While re-tiling is one of the options, it’s not necessarily the best. This comes at a large cost and puts the bathroom out of commission for days.
A more affordable and convenient option would be to splash a fresh coat of paint on the wall tiles.
Painting ceramic tiles with specialty tile paint can breathe new life into them without compromising their integrity.
Since the hardened, shiny surface of glazed tiles doesn’t bond well with ordinary paint, a successful paint job requires adequate preparation. Otherwise, the paint might peel off quickly and ruin the bathroom’s new look.
Here’s a detailed guide to help you paint the ceramic tiles in your bathroom.
Gather the Supplies
Having the right supplies is critical when painting ceramic tiles. Here’s a list of the tools and materials you need to paint the tiles in your bathroom:
- Tile paint and acrylic paint primer
- Rubber gloves, a sponge, and rags
- Tile cleaning solution
- 220-grit sandpaper
- Grinder (optional)
- Two brushes – a paintbrush and an artist’s brush
- Paint roller and tray
- Denatured alcohol
1. Prepare the Surface of the Tiles
As with any paint job, preparation is crucial to getting excellent results. Start by covering the surfaces near the painting area with cover cloths to avoid paint stains. Be sure to mask off electrical outlets and silicone sealants around sinks, showers, and baths with the painter’s tape.
Repair Damaged Tiles
Patch cracked or broken grout lines and replace any broken tiles to improve their integrity. Be sure to allow the grout to dry for at least 48 hours before painting the tiles.
Sand the Tiles
Lightly sand the tiles with 180 to 240 grit sandpaper, scuffing the surface to remove the glaze. You can use 80 or 120 grit to sand off any surface with a build-up of crud. Remember to don protective gear such as eyeglasses and a mask when sanding the tiles to avoid breathing the dust. Pairing an orbital sander with synthetic grit sandpapers like aluminium oxide or silicon carbide gets the job done quicker.
Clean the Tile
Wipe down the tiles with a rag to remove the sanding dust from the surface. Clean the tiles with a cleaning solution, preferably one containing trisodium phosphate. Apply the solution generously and allow it to sit for at least two minutes to remove hard water deposits, soap scum, grime, and dirt. Rinse the surface several times to remove any trace of the cleaning solution and leave it to dry.
Wipe down the dry tile surface with denatured alcohol to remove any remaining dirt or residual.
2. Prime the Tile surface
Despite the scuffing and scoring, the surface of a ceramic tile still won’t bond well with the paint, and will lead to poor results. For the best results, you should apply a primer coat before painting the tiles.
An undercoat ensures better paint adhesion on the tile surface, offers additional protection to the tiles, and increases paint durability while preventing peeling.
Thinning the primer coat allows you to create a smooth, even undercoat on ceramic tiles. Using a roller and paintbrush gets you the best results.
- Use the paintbrush to carry out the edging work. A brush lets you cut-in around the edges of cabinets, baseboards, walls, ceiling, and other appliances.
- Apply a thin primer coat across the surface of the ceramic tiles with the roller. Apply moderate pressure on the roller and roll in all directions as you paint the tiles. This helps to create a smooth coat and avoid unsightly edge marks.
- Leave the primer coat to dry for several hours before applying a second coat. Allow the second coat to dry overnight. Lightly sand and smooth any visible paint lines on the tiles in the morning and wipe away the dust.
Your ceramic tiles are now ready for painting.
3. Painting Ceramic Tiles
Your choice of tile paint can make or break your bathroom remodel. You can match the tile paint to existing bathroom décor and decorative elements or opt for contrasting colours.
In addition to using top-quality tile paint, you’re better off with several thin coats of paint instead of one thick layer. You need to thin the paint before starting, however.
One coat of paint is usually not durable, and often doesn’t hide imperfections on the painted surface. It might not also give you the beautiful solid colour you’re hoping for in your bathroom.
- Use the paintbrush to cut in the first coat of paint as you did with the undercoat. Apply a thin coat of paint on the tiles’ surface with the roller and leave it to dry.
- Apply the second coat once the first coat dries completely – cutting in with the paintbrush then using the roller to paint across the tile surface.
- After the second coat dries thoroughly, inspect the painted ceramic tiles, and determine if they’re to your liking. You can apply a third coat if you’d like to bring out the shine in your remodelled bathroom.
- You can give the grout lines a contrasting paint colour to break the monotony as well. A painter’s brush lets you paint the grout lines precisely without marring the painted tile surface. Leave the grout to dry.
4. Seal the Tiles
To lock in the new chic and beautiful bathroom look, you need to seal the newly painted ceramic tiles with a coat of high-quality urethane finish.
A topcoat may not be necessary on the walls, but is required if you choose to paint the ceramic tiles on your bathroom floor. A Polyurethane topcoat lets the painted ceramic floor tiles withstand wear-and-tear and moisture without peeling off.
If painting your old ceramic tiles feels too much like a challenge, you can always select new bathroom tiles from our shops. We have plenty of resources to help you pick the right tile material and tile pattern.