Constant exposure to water can make your bathroom tiles less attractive over time. The bathroom then looks dirty, smells moldy, and becomes overall uncomfortable. However, there is a simple solution to this problem.
You can paint over bathroom tiles with any color and pattern you want. However, not all types of paint will work for all tile types without pretreatment. You need to apply a high-quality primer on tiles to ensure latex or acrylic paint sticks on the surface.
Read on to find out the types of tiles you can paint, how to paint them, and the right paint to use.
What Types of Bathroom Tiles Can You Paint Over?
You can apply paint to almost all kinds of bathroom tiles.
The only exception will be glazed quarry tiles.
Their surfaces are slippery, so they can’t absorb or retain paint.
The bathroom tiles you can paint over include the following:
- Porcelain tiles
- Unglazed quarry tiles
- Ceramic tiles
- Natural stone tiles (travertine, limestone, marvel, and granite).
These tiles are sold in varying colors, but if the tiles are old, faded, or outdated, you can paint over them.
It’s worth noting that there are areas in the bathroom where the tiles will require higher maintenance after painting. These areas include:
- Shower surface
- Tub area
These areas will require repainting now and then because they are constantly exposed to moisture, making them prone to mildew and mold growth.
However, you can use epoxy paint to paint water splash areas.
Epoxy paints are more water-resistant than latex.
Nevertheless, know that painting bathroom tiles is not a once-in-a-lifetime job.
You’d have to repaint after some years or months, depending on various factors, such as:
- the type of paint
- the traffic in the bathroom
- the frequency and duration of the area’s exposure to moisture
How To Paint Over Bathroom Tiles
As long as you don’t have glazed quarry tiles, you can paint over your bathroom tiles.
The painting process is essentially the same.
Here is a step-by-step guide on painting your bathroom tiles correctly:
1. Prepare the Materials
You can choose to pay an expert to paint your bathroom tiles.
You’ll be assured of a clean job. However, if you don’t have the extra money to spare, you can do it yourself.
You’ll need the following items to successfully paint your bathroom tiles:
- Paint tray
- Paint roller
- Masking tape
- Tile paint
- Mold killer
- Mild detergent
- Sand paper
- Sanding block
- Scrubbing Brushes
- Clean towels
- Dust mask
- Paint mixer
2. Clean the Tile Surface
After collecting the materials, you need to clean the surface of your bathroom tile.
You can use a mild detergent, water, and a scrubbing brush to wash the tile.
If there are any molds or mildew along the grout lines, use a mold cleaner or diluted bleach to remove them.
Wear a pair of gloves when handling chemicals and removing molds.
You can use an old toothbrush or any narrow brush with a long handle to clean the grout lines and edges.
Ensure every area of the tile is well-cleaned.
You don’t want mold or dirt hiding under your paint.
Rinse the tiles thoroughly with fresh water after using cleaning agents or chemicals.
After washing, use a towel to dry the tiles’ surface. Leave the tiles to dry completely.
It also helps to leave the tiles to dry overnight.
Once dry, inspect the grout lines for any signs of molds or dirt. If there are, clean the area again and wait for it to dry.
Otherwise, you can proceed to the next step.
3. Sand the Tile
It’s important to sand the tile to help it retain the paint.
That’s because sanding removes the slippery surface of the tile.
You’d need a sandpaper of 180-220 grit. Do not scrub too hard.
You want to sand lightly, just enough to get the shiny surface out.
While sanding, wear your dust mask to prevent the dust from entering your nose or mouth.
4. Clean and Re-Sand
The next step will be to clean off the dust using a clean damp towel.
Ensure you wipe off all the dust from the grout lines and edges.
When you’re done, inspect your work.
If there are still some areas you didn’t sand properly, allow them to dry and sand again.
It’s also important to sand every part of the tile as evenly as possible.
5. Tape and Apply a Primer
After sanding, allow the surface to dry.
When it’s dry, tape off the area you don’t want the paint to touch.
After that, prepare your primer.
A primer serves as a base for the paint to rest on.
Remember that you can’t use a particular primer for all tile types.
Below are the types of primers and the tile types they work well on:
- Masonry primer: for natural stone and unglazed quarry tiles
- Urethane or epoxy primer: for porcelain and ceramic tiles
Each primer comes with instructions for use by the manufacturer.
Ensure you follow the instructions strictly.
To apply the primer, use a paintbrush along the edges and grout lines.
You can then use a paint roller to paint on the tile surface.
After applying the primer, leave it to dry for some hours.
The number of hours will be indicated in the instructions manual of the primer you’re using.
6. Paint the Tile
Now, it’s time to paint the tile. If you’re painting a natural tile, use acrylic or latex paint.
If it’s a ceramic or porcelain tile, you should use epoxy or latex paint (pre-mixed or ready-to-mix).
If you bought the ready-to-mix (two-part) paint, add the additives and stir for 2-5 minutes.
You can use any color or tint your white paint to any color.
You can paint your bathroom in two ways:
- Use a paintbrush to paint the edges and grout lines. After that, use the paint roller to gently roll on each tile surface. The roller shouldn’t touch the grout lines. You can use this method to paint different colors on each tile.
- Use a paint roller and roll the paint all over the surface evenly. The paint will touch the grout lines and edges, but that will be if you want to paint everything at once.
After applying the first coat of the paint, leave it to dry for up to ten hours.
When it’s dry, apply a second coat of paint.
Also, leave it to dry for the same number of hours.
7. Seal the Tile
To ensure your tile retains the paint for a long time, you need to use a sealer to seal the paint.
The sealer seals in the paint and makes it resistant to grime, dirt, and mildew.
The paint on the tile will last longer and retain its shine.
After painting, use the right kind of sealer depending on your tile type:
- Masonry sealer: for quarry and natural stone tiles
- Urethane sealer: for porcelain and ceramic tiles
How Long Will It Take Me To Paint My Bathroom Tiles?
If you want to embark on the journey of painting your bathroom tiles, give yourself two days to a week.
It all depends on the drying time of the primer and paint. It also depends on the pattern you wish to paint.
Painting your bathroom tiles takes a lot of time, from preparing the tile to sanding to priming and then painting.
All these take time, and you must strictly adhere to the drying hours.
You can’t use your bathroom before your primer or paint dries.
The drying time for the paint or primer you buy will be stated in the manual.
If for any reason you step on the paint before it dries, you can cause a dent in the surface.
You can use a paintbrush to paint over the affected areas.
Note that it will result in more waiting time.
Pros and Cons of Painting Your Bathroom Tiles
There are pros and cons to painting bathroom tiles.
You need to consider them before venturing to paint your tiles.
Pros of Painting Your Bathroom Tiles
- It’s less expensive than replacing the tiles entirely.
- You get to paint your bathroom the colors you choose.
- Your bathroom will look welcoming and good as new.
- You can cut down on labor costs as you can do it yourself. Even when hiring a professional, a painter might charge less than a tile setter.
- If done correctly, painted bathroom tiles can last for a long time.
- It requires little or no maintenance.
Cons of Painting Bathroom Tiles
- If you don’t do it right, the paint job may make the bathroom look messy. It’s best to seek the help of an expert painter.
- You must repaint from time to time, especially the water splash areas.
- You will have to bear the inconvenience of not using your bathroom for days or weeks.
- An expert painter will do a good job painting your bathroom tiles, but you’ll pay for labor.
- Paint doesn’t last as long as tile replacements.
- Doing a good painting job takes a lot of time, patience, skill, and precision.
If you want a new look for your bathroom but can’t shell out some cast for the cost of tile replacement, painting over the bathroom tiles may be your best option.
It costs significantly less compared to replacing the tiles.
You can paint your bathroom any color you want and give it whatever design you wish.
If you have no idea how to do it yourself, you can employ the services of an expert.
However, you can watch a video online if you want to try the DIY method.
The process is straightforward but requires patience and precision.