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  • Writer's pictureThe True North Handyman

Can You Paint Bathroom Tiles?

can you paint bathroom tiles

Updating a bathroom is one of the most popular renovations right now. Whether you're looking to increase the value of your home to sell or just want to update it to meet your current tastes, renovating a bathroom can go a long way.

But it can also be timely and costly depending on how big the renovation is. Just thinking about getting up old tiles can make anyone's head spin...

So, it comes as no surprise when we're asked, "can you paint bathroom tiles?"

In this week's blog we're looking at the hows and whys of painting tile, the important things to remember, and how to save yourself a headache in the long run!

Can You Paint Bathroom Tiles?

Can you paint bathroom tiles?

The short answer is yes - painting bathroom tiles can be a faster, more economical way to update a bathroom, especially if you want to do it yourself...

But there are some important guidelines to follow before you even open that can of paint!

Just sweeping then painting will leave you with A) a mess, and B) a paint job that won't last very long.

So, take your time - it will be much more effective if you follow these tips.

Note: The only big exception here is glazed quarry tile. Paint doesn't easily stick to this unfortunately, so we typically don't recommend it.

Prepping Tiles for Paint

Before you even pour the paint in your tray, spend some time prepping the tiles.

Start with a sanding and scrubbing. And not just the tiles, but the grout as well. This will help get up any stains that have settled in.

You also want to inspect tiles carefully during the prep stage. Repair any cracks or chips and scrape away any excess and wait until repairs dry before moving to the next step. Grout can be fixed with a small amount of grout from a tube. Wear gloves and use your finger to rub in the grout. Wipe any extra off with a cloth. If the grout is in rough shape, it may need to be removed and replaced entirely.

Follow all of this with a really thorough clean. You want to remove all the dust, dirt, debris, and anything else that might be hanging out. Get in all the nooks and crannies. Remember, anything that's left behind will get picked up by your paint brush and spread across the newly painted tiles.

Next, prime. Just as you'd prime walls, you need to do the same with tiles. The type of primer you use will depend on the type of tile you’ll be painting. Use epoxy or urethane primer for ceramic or porcelain tile, and masonry primer for natural stone or unglazed quarry tile. Roll the primer evenly over the tiles. Use two coats if necessary, letting primer dry between coats before moving to the actual paint.

Use a roller to apply paint evenly to the tile, making sure to paint grout as well. Let the paint dry for 24 to 48 hours so that it is non-tacky to the touch. Add a clear coat of polyurethane if desired.

Can You Paint Bathroom Tiles with Any Type of Paint?

Nope, this is another important thing to think about. The type of paint you choose should depend on the type of tile you want to cover.

To paint ceramic, porcelain, or unglazed quarry tile, you can use either latex or epoxy paint in one-part (pre-mixed) or two-part (ready-to-mix) varieties. Latex paint is usually less smelly and toxic, but make sure you choose a type that’s mildew-proof.

For areas that will be hit with a lot of water (backsplashes, vanity countertops, and shower/tub surrounds), consider epoxy paint. This dries into a surface that’s harder than latex paint, more durable, and more resistant to moisture, heat, and everyday wear-and-tear. There are epoxy paints specifically designed for tubs and tiles available, so searching for one of these is your best bet.

Natural stone tiles are different still. For these, you'll want to use an acrylic latex paint that's intended for interior masonry or stucco. Beware that the glossier the finish, the slipperier the tile will be, and that can be an issue in a bathroom.

How Long Will Painted Tiles Last?

That depends...

While you can technically paint all bathroom surfaces, your paint job will last the longest on tiled bathroom surfaces that receive low to moderate exposure to moisture—think floors (outside the immediate vicinity of the tub), walls, and backsplashes. Tiled countertops, tub surrounds, or shower surfaces, while paintable, aren’t as practical surfaces for this treatment in the long-term because the paint is more likely to prematurely fade, peel, or blister with regular exposure to water.

If you notice any of the paint blistering, peeling, or fading, be prepared that you may need to redo your paint job (this includes preparing the area again).

So, can you paint bathroom tiles? Yes, definitely - painting the tiles in your bathroom can give you an amazing updated bathroom as a fraction of the cost of retiling. Just keep in mind that, in the long term, it won't last as long.

Want to paint your bathroom, retile it, or completely renovate it from top to bottom - but don't feel like doing it yourself? Give us a call to get started!

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