How To Paint Ceramic Tile

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Ceramic tiles are one of the best flooring materials you can ever get. They not only look beautiful but are extremely durable. But like any other flooring material, you need to take good care of them. Otherwise, they can get damaged and end up looking very bad.

One way to take care of ceramic tiles is to paint them. This is not a very complicated process but does require some preparation. You will need to follow all the steps mentioned below for the best results. Let's get started!

Collect the Painting Tools

Having a nice set of tools will make your painting tile floors work much easier and ensure you create the best paint job you can. 

Painting Tools
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Ensure you pick up at least the following:

  • Paint rack
  • Modeling knifes
  • Masking tape
  • A good paint brush
  • A length of dowel rod
  • Paint roller
  • Paint roller tray
  • A good quality paint

A little advice: Do not buy the cheapest paint tile you can find. You're putting yourself at risk for poor quality with your ceramic tile. You aren't going over all the trouble only to end up with a finish you don't enjoy. It would be better to pick up a small bottle of the cheapest paint and test it out on spare pieces of tile before going with something that's an unknown quantity.

Prepare the Painting Environment

This will be a messy process; you'll get paint on your hands and likely spill some as well. Ensure adequate space to move about and lay down drop cloths or newspaper on the floor where necessary. If the outside pick is your thing, you could consider doing this outside.

If you're going to do it inside, make sure there is enough ventilation for fumes and that nothing flammable is nearby. This is the stage where you might want to learn how to get rid of the paint smell and all the fumes and also about preparing floor for tile.

A little preparation in advance does not harm. Ensure that lighting is ample and if possible, use a stepladder to get up high for painting tile. If unable to access or use a stepladder, use a stable chair to stand on.

create an environment to paint a tile
Image Credit: Kitchen Infinity Photo

Sand the Floor Tile

The first step you need to take is lightly sand the tiles if they have been installed for at least three years. This will allow the new paint tile to adhere better. Sanding can be done on a dry floor or wet tile floor. 

It doesn't matter as long as there are no puddles of water around and all surfaces are properly covered with a dust sheet. A 120 grit sandpaper should do the trick, and it can be found at hardware stores for less than 10 bucks for an 8 pack.

After sanding you might also consider regrouting the tile as part of preparation. Learn how to regrout tile so you can do it properly.

Cleaning the Ceramic Tile

The next step is to clean the surface of the tiles using a good tile cleaner. Prepare this by mixing water and vinegar at equal proportions in a bucket or basin. Clean before you start painting tile floors and have enough space cleared out for moving around.

Make sure you do not leave any dirt on the floor as it can get visible after painting. It would be better to use a degreaser to clean it as most grease can be visible after painting tile.

Ensure you clean your flooring thoroughly and ensure nothing remains on the floor by the time you start painting tile floors. Once all the dirt has been removed and you are happy with your clean tile floor, go ahead and allow it to dry completely. Let the tile floor thoroughly dry out before moving on to the next step.

Continue with the Ceramic Tile Floor Preparation

Now you need to remove all the grout if there is any between the tiles. Use a drill and remove the grout from the gaps in between. If you do not even want to bother with this step, create grids first by marking your tiles and then cut out the area meant to be grouted.

Once you have successfully done this, you need to apply a good adhesive so that tiles do not fly off during removal. The glue should work well on most surfaces, so choose your favorite one or ask your local store for more information on what they recommend.

If you notice any damages on your tiles, get a restoration service to fix it. Do not use the grout for these repairs unless you know what you are doing because it is hard to match up colors and clean them later.

Selecting Paint Color

Now comes the fun part: choosing a tile paint color. You can select any color of your choice for painting floor tiles as per your taste. Remember, you can custom-match colors to blend with other fixtures and décor.

For general painting projects, latex paint works better because it is washable and holds up well over time.

However, if you have a specific type of surface to be painted, refer to its instructions. Some surfaces may require epoxy paint or oil paints due to their durability in certain conditions, such as high heat or moisture. For instance, you might want something more durable when painting a bathroom floor than a bedroom floor.

Moreover, you can opt for high-gloss paint to add shine and give the surface a polished look. You can also choose from satin or eggshell finishes, which are less shiny than high-gloss paints. Everything narrows down to the look you want to achieve with your ceramic tile at the end of the job.

Choose a Primer

Don't forget to choose a quality primer when choosing the floor tile paint for your ceramic tile, metal, or even wood surfaces. Primers are formulated to provide a better bond between the paint and the surface it is applied on while adhering to various surfaces such as drywall, brick, concrete, metal, and wood, among many others.

Choosing the best primer for each particular surface will guarantee the durability and effectiveness of your paint. So, getting a high-quality primer is as essential as getting the floor tile paint. The two go together, so you must take note.

Prepare the Paint and Primer

Make sure you thin the paint and primer slightly to the desired consistency and apply it using a paint brush, roller, or sprayer. You can also use a combination of these methods to make the work easier and faster. As for thinning your paint, follow the manufacturer's instructions on how much thinner to add to thin the paints without compromising their quality.

Don't forget that insufficient paint coverage results in a dull, uneven surface. The best way to achieve good coverage is to apply thin coats allowing each coat to dry properly before applying the next one.

You need to be patient and avoid rushing as this results in inadequate drying leading to poor paint adhesion. This subsequently leads to peeling the paint or primer even after allowing sufficient time for the paint to cure.

If you're working in an extremely cold environment, such as the bathroom floor tile, let the paints warm up to room temperature before using them. Don't apply your base paint if it is cold, as this makes it almost impossible for it to adhere to the model and give a quality finish.

Apply Paint Base Coat

Now it's the time to swing to action, and you need to start with the base coat. There are just two simple rules to remember in this case:

  • Paint should be applied as light coats. This will ensure that the paint floor tile gives even coverage and doesn't result in shade marks or uneven patches on your model.
  • Before applying a base color, you need to cover up all those areas of your models to ensure the paint doesn't get smeared all over.

The good part is that you can use just one color as the base coat for your model, or you can also apply a few different colors to give it a fantastic look. Try out a couple of models first before moving to complicated schemes. This will ensure you understand the basics and are comfortable with them before moving on to more complex models or even painting a whole army.

Apply Top Coat
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So when you are applying your base coat, make sure that you avoid covering up any of those deep holes or bumps on your model. They might seem insignificant, but they can really ruin your model, especially if you try to paint over them.

Let the Paint Sit for Awhile

After applying the base coat, wait for a while before you apply the topcoat. Because if you don't, the paint can smudge as it will not be dry enough yet.

To ensure you don't get impatient waiting, you can take the time to run other errands. You can also begin working on the basing or even read some of our posts to give you more inspiration for your painting.

Cover Up with a Top Coat

Set your base coat aside and then begin covering up any areas where you made mistakes, or there are bumps and holes on the model. You can do this by applying a top coat of the same color as your base coat or whatever fits the look that you want to achieve with your model.

Once you have applied the base coat and the top coat, wait for them to dry before moving on to the next step. It takes a few hours to completely dry, so if you are in a hurry, use a hairdryer or paint thinner (with utmost care) to hasten the drying process.

But it's always a good idea to let the paint floor tiles dry naturally so that you don't end up damaging them. Exercising a little patience goes a long way in ensuring you get the best results from your floor tiles.

Apply a High-Quality Finish Coat

After the base coat and the topcoat have dried, you can now proceed to apply the finish coat. This is a thin layer of color that will give your model that glossy mirror look. Again, use colors similar to your base and top coats for best results or if you're going for a different color entirely, make sure it contrasts nicely with the rest of your paint job.

This can be achieved by using a spray finish coat or careful brushing. If you opt to use the latter, do it lightly and always in one direction, either right to left or up and down – whichever way works best for you.

FAQ About Painting Ceramic Tile

Should I paint grout lines when painting ceramic tile?

This is entirely up to you. If your grout lines are dark and very visible, then it may be advisable for you to fill them in first. If they're not dark, leaving the tiles as they are can work just as well.

Can I apply a clear coat after painting ceramic tile?

Yes, you can, but this isn't necessary if you already have a perfect finish from the base coat. However, if you feel that you need to do this, make sure that you use an enamel spray not to damage the paint job or change its color.

What is the best way to remove paint from ceramic tile?

If you've already painted your tiles and find out that it doesn't look like what you expected or the colors don't match, you can easily remove the paint by applying water to it.

Always remember that if you want your painting efforts to be successful, patience and practice are two of the most important things that you need to have with you when starting.

How long should I wait before using my floor again?

After you have painted tile floor and let it dry by avoiding any foot traffic. You still need to wait for a few days before putting anything on top of your tile floor. If you still feel that the time isn't enough after three or four days, leave it there for a week more before walking on it again.

Using your painted tile floor too soon may result in the floor tile paint peeling off, or you may not get the beautiful look you deserve. So, always exercise patience after painting your tile.

Final Thoughts on How to Paint Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tiles look beautiful even without beautifying them. But at times, you might feel like giving it an extra touch to make it even more elegant and eye-catching. When these situations arise, painting the tiles is a good idea since it can add color and character to your home's interiors.

Read also about how to smudge your house on our blog!

Painting ceramic tile doesn't require any special skills or professional help, like regrouting kitchen tile, but you need to have certain things with you before starting out, such as a painting job. With the detailed guide from this article, we hope you can give your ceramic tiles a new and improved look in a simple yet perfect manner.



Kristina Perrin

Kristina Perrin

Kristina is an expert DIY home remodeler and mom to three. When she's not cooking or experimenting with new recipes, you can find her working on new home improvement projects or writing about her favorite kitchen appliances or DIY projects on Kitchen Infinity blog.

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