How to paint bathroom tiles: A quick DIY guide

Update the look of your bathroom tiles with these tips

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This is perhaps the easiest DIY to change up your bathroom instantly. Thanks to the modern marvels of commercial paint, you now have options when it comes to more manageable ways to re-design your bathroom. Learning how to paint bathroom tile allows you a more cost-efficient way to restore or re-do the look of your existing tiles for your flooring, walls, and other bathroom surfaces.

Painting bathroom tiles

That being said, there are some important elements about painting tiles in your bathroom that you need to familiarise yourself with before you start. Read on to not only learn to get key tips that will ensure you do a great job.

Deciding on your new look

If your bathroom is starting to look outdated or damaged, learning how to paint bathroom tile is a much cheaper option than replacing them. The most popular tile materials are often ceramic, porcelain, natural stones, or quarry tiles, often sold in various solid colours or patterns. 

If you want something that differs from this to take control of your bathroom design or update your space to suit newer fashions, paint is key. You can lighten the look, darken it, or apply a pattern to fit any bathroom aesthetic. Best of all, once you know how to paint bathroom wall and floor tiles, you can easily repaint as your tastes change.

Consider the interior design of your bathroom. When choosing your new colour, it is important to remember that brighter paint colours suit space-limited bathrooms the best. Darker paint is well-suited to larger spaces, as it absorbs light and can make a small bathroom look more contracted.

Bathroom surfaces that shouldn't be painted

Can you paint bathroom tiles? Definitely. You can paint the following types of tiles: 

  • Ceramic

  • Porcelain

  • Most natural stone

  • Unglazed quarry tile

You should not paint glazed quarry tile, as it does not bond well with the paint. Your new paint job will last the longest on surfaces with low exposure to moisture (which is hard in a bathroom), but the flooring, walls, and backsplashes are all suitable. 

The less suitable spaces can be tiled countertops, tub surrounds, or wall tiles surrounding the shower area, as they are in contact with a lot of water. This may cause paint to prematurely fade, peel, or blister. If this does occur, it's not the end of the world. You can just touch up or re-apply with a fresh coat.

Matching the paint to the tile material and surface

Matching the paint to the bathroom tile

If you are painting ceramic, porcelain, or unglazed quarry tile, your best bet is either latex or epoxy paint in the pre-mixed or ready-to-mix varieties. Latex paint is generally less toxic and does not have as intense a smell. You can also spend a little bit more money on a mildew-proof variety, which negates the effects of heavy moisture exposure. 

Opt for epoxy paint if you are painting wetter areas like backsplashes, countertops, tub surroundings, and shower surfaces. Epoxy cures into a harder coat that is more durable and resistant to moisture and everyday wear and tear. You can even find an epoxy specifically designed for tubs and tiles.

When painting natural stone tiles, acrylic latex paint specially formulated for interior masonry or stucco is the best play. You will be able to find this paint in a variety of sheens, from flat to high-gloss. Just keep in mind that the glossier the finish, the more slippery the tile. Flat and matte sheens provide the most traction, while semi-gloss and high-gloss can create a slip-prone surface, so avoid them on shower floors for safety.

Planning to give your bathroom a paint makeover? Find out how much bathroom painting costs to set the right budget for the project!

How to paint bathroom tile

There are four or five stages to consider when learning how to paint bathroom tile: 

  1. Surface preparation

  2. Priming

  3. Painting

  4. Pattern application (if applicable)

  5. Sealing

When planning, consider how long your bathroom will be out of commission, so you can determine the dry time of the primers, paints, and sealers. All of these will vary depending on the types used. If you are painting a pattern, its complexity will also determine your project’s duration.

Step 1: Surface preparation 

Sand, vacuum, and scrub the old tile and grout lines to prepare them for the new paint job. This action will remove dirt and grime, giving you a clean canvas.

Step 2: Priming 

This step is essential to ensure your tile is receptive to the paint. It will be best to use epoxy or urethane primer for porcelain or ceramic tiles or a masonry primer for natural stone or unglazed quarry tiles. 

Follow the specific primer’s application instructions and pay careful attention to its dry time. Painting over sticky primer leads to disaster.

Step 3: Painting the bathroom tile 

Once your primer is dry, you can use a roller or a large brush to start painting large swaths on the tile. If you have more patience, you can brush individual tiles by “cutting in” around the edges. If you do this, however, you’ll need an angled brush to avoid painting the grout lines. 

Your process will depend on whether or not you plan to paint the grout, a large area, or just a few accent tiles. The paint can take around two or more days to dry, during which you’ll need to avoid touching it or using the bathroom – so keep that in mind before you begin.

Step 4: Applying a pattern (optional)

If you decide to paint a pattern, wait for the tiles to be fully cured, then tape your pre-bought or homemade stencil to the area you want to pattern. Go over the stencil with a roller and wait out the full dry time before removing the stencil.

Step 5: Sealing 

The final step involves the application of a sealer that protects the painted bathroom tile from grime, scuff marks, and scratches. Use a clear sealer of the following type:

  • Urethane for ceramic or porcelain

  • Masonry for natural stone or quarry tile

Once again, you’ll need to wait for the full required drying time before you begin to use the bathroom. You may be unable to use your bathroom anywhere from two to several days. Make sure you clear everything you need from the bathroom before you start!

Painted bathroom tile maintenance

The best part about your finished painted bathroom tiles is that all they will need to keep clean is a bit of regular sweeping, vacuuming, and mopping. The sealer will help the tiles to retain their colour and fend off abrasive dirt. You can also lay bathroom mats in high-traffic areas to prevent scuff marks, and if some slight damage occurs, simply use a small artist’s paintbrush to re-apply some of the leftover paint and re-seal.

If you think the task may take longer than you can afford to give or have no time learning how to paint bathroom tiles, book our skilled painting Taskers who specialise in bathroom painting. They can save you time, guarantee excellent results, and show you how to paint bathroom wall tiles or other areas. This may be best if you are considering an intricate pattern for your bathroom painting!

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Painting Bathroom Tiles FAQs

Yes, you can! You can paint ceramic, porcelain, most natural stone, and unglazed quarry tile. You should avoid painting glazed quarry tile as it does not bond well with the paint. Your new paint job will last the longest on surfaces that have low exposure to moisture, which is hard in a shower, but if you use an epoxy paint, it will cure into a harder coat that is more durable and resistant to moisture. You can find an epoxy that is specifically designed for shower tiles.

If you are painting ceramic, porcelain, or unglazed quarry tile, use latex or epoxy paint. Latex paint is generally less toxic and does not smell as intensely. You can also choose a mildew-proof variety for more protection. If you are painting some of the wetter areas, an epoxy cures into a harder coat that is more durable and resistant to moisture.

Your tile paint’s longevity will depend on the variety you use and how much traffic the painted area receives. If you get a scuff mark or damage to the paint for some reason, you can simply use a small artist’s paintbrush to re-apply some of the leftover paint to fix it.

As you can see, painting your bathroom tile isn’t difficult, but it is time-consuming. This can be a fun and satisfying project to take on; you just need to account for the fact that your bathroom will be out of action for a few days.

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