How to Paint Over Ceramic Tile in a Bathroom

By: Danny Lipford

Painting over tile with a roller.

Can I paint over the ceramic tile in my bathroom? And if so, how do I go about it? -Marilyn

You can paint over ceramic tile walls in a bathroom, but you will lose some of the interesting characteristics of tile since the grout lines will be the same color as the tile. Also, you will have better luck if you avoid painting tile which receives a lot of water or wear, such as:

  • Tile floor
  • Tile tub or shower surround
  • Tile vanity countertop

There are two important components to painting ceramic tile—preparing the surface properly and using the right type of paint. Here’s how to go about painting tile.

Preparation

As with most painting jobs, preparation is the key to success. To prepare tile for painting:

  • Clean Tile: Clean the tile to remove any dirt, mildew, or soap scum using an abrasive bathroom cleaner. After cleaning, wipe the surface down with a clean, wet sponge to remove any residue, then allow the surface to dry thoroughly.
  • Sand Tile: Lightly sand the tile with fine (180-220 grit) synthetic grit sandpaper, such as silicon carbide or aluminum oxide, to take the gloss off the glazed surface. An orbital sander will do a faster and better job than hand sanding.
  • Remove Dust: Wipe down the surface with a damp cloth to remove any dust and allow to dry before painting.

Painting

There are two painting options for tile:

  1. Latex Paint: Apply one to two coats of a bonding primer that’s made to adhere to surfaces such as tile. Allow the primer to dry for the recommended time, then follow with two topcoats of acrylic latex wall paint.
  2. Epoxy Paint: Apply two coats of a two-part epoxy paint that’s made for tile and other hard to paint surfaces, such as Rust-Oleum Tub & Tile. Follow the directions carefully, and allow the recommended drying time before using. The colors available for epoxy paint may be limited.

Good luck with your project,

Danny

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36 Comments on “How to Paint Over Ceramic Tile in a Bathroom”

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  • kylie Says:
    August 24th, 2016 at 9:26 pm

    I have just painted all the tiles in my bathroom with Rustoleum tile transformations kit. I painted them white. They were a greyish-blue colour. I found the microcloth roller left a texture I wasn’t fond of and also started falling apart and leaving pieces of fluff behind. If anyone has a particular roller that does an amazing job let me know. The paint is thick and starts to dry as you paint so a very high quality roller is required, otherwise the paint will pull it apart. Throw it out when done- waste of time trying to wash it. It cant be cleaned. I let dry and went over them with another coat of rustoleum paint. 2 kits were required. I would’ve preferred to buy the cheaper brand the second time but was worried about the colour difference (turns out white and white can be different).
    Keep checking back to where you’ve already painted as sometimes the paint slowly gathers along the top of the tile and leaves a drippy bump between the tile and the grout. This might be from using too much paint but I did try to paint sparingly. It does still seem to slowly run a little. Not to worry. It dries hard as nails. A few days later someone accidentally scuffed the wall with the ladder quite hard but not a single mark was made. If you can spare the cost of retiling- go for it. Otherwise this is a cheaper solution. I am very fussy and critical so I can tell its paint and all the flaws, but I’m waiting to see what visitors say when they see it.



  • Isabella Siton Says:
    July 18th, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    To Judy ham and Vonciell Cunningham: For borders and white tile, nail Polish adheres to tile design some cute little flowers or something. If you get tired of them later – nail polish remover.



  • JAYNE Says:
    May 2nd, 2016 at 3:42 pm

    JUST REFINISHED MY BATHTUB AND TILE ON THE WALLS WITH RUSTOLEUM TUB AND TILE. LOOKS GREAT. EASY TO DO, JUST STINKY



  • Tammy Taylor Says:
    April 2nd, 2016 at 5:04 pm

    Totally different question. Considering couple option. Can you apply wall paper to bathroom tile??
    Thinking of some diy home project. Can’t easily fix mistake but just asking before any mistake maken

    Thx



  • Neil Hopper Says:
    March 12th, 2016 at 9:03 pm

    When you paint over ceramic tile, does this make the paint easy to scratch or mark ?Will the paint be durable as i am putting it on the bathroom walls only, not in the shower enclosure.



  • Suzanne Snyder Says:
    January 25th, 2016 at 2:49 pm

    How can I get the answers to the questions you receive



  • Cindy Says:
    January 11th, 2016 at 9:39 am

    I was wondering if you can paint over old plastic tile and how do I do this if it can be painted



  • Jose Says:
    December 13th, 2015 at 9:05 am

    I have a pink and green tile bathroom, I don’t want to remove the tiles. How could I paint over them? How would it look? Could you show me a full look of a painted tile bathroom?



  • Susan Conder Says:
    September 8th, 2015 at 3:33 pm

    Can I paint back splash tile in my kitchen? It’s orange, will it be hard to cover?



  • kerry walters Says:
    July 13th, 2015 at 4:23 am

    I would like to paint my tiles in my bathroom. But talking to paint salesman he advised me not to, as it only a short fix and will not last. I would like to know what you think.
    Yours,
    K Walters



  • Sabrina Says:
    June 25th, 2015 at 1:24 am

    im wondering if I could remove the grout from the wall tiles before I paint over them or does that damage the paint as your putting grout back in just wondering that’s all, and. before I start and what is the life span of painted floor tile.



  • Elaine Barrett Says:
    June 9th, 2015 at 7:55 am

    I have rock tile surrounding the bathroom walls in the shower area. I have a painted tub, must be careful of what you use. Actually the tile goes all around the bathroom, but only the shower area needs attention. I was looking for something easy to make it look good, and if any professional does do this work. We had painters come in to caulk and clean the ceiling, but they did not do it. We are looking for the least amount of trouble making it look decent.



  • Hasan Doraidi Says:
    May 18th, 2015 at 3:50 am

    My bathroom and kitchen, ceramics floor tiles 15 years old, and their color became dark and not shining, in some corners became black. I am not sure why, but possibly due to excessive cleaning using chemical materials like bleach. It will be very hard to replace the tiles and costly, that is why I am looking for special paint to apply on the ceramic surface, to make it looks new, but I’m scare the paint might be come out easy as a result of daily repeat cleaning.
    Please advice me, if such a paint available
    Thanks and best regards
    Hasan Doraidi
    Doha, Qatar



  • Adrienne Says:
    April 8th, 2015 at 4:47 pm

    Hello- I googled painting over bathroom tiles and got your website. I am glad I did because I found some great tips. My question is. My bathroom has peach and blue tiles that extend into the shower. I was thinking about painting the outside tiles and replacing the ones inside of the shower myself. Is this hard to do? Also, some of the grout and caulk around the tub is cracking and I am starting to see a little mold, is that a major issue? Lastly, is it better to use sticky tiles on the bathroom floor or linoleum. My floor is peach and it is driving me crazy… Help!!!!!



  • Judy ham Says:
    March 9th, 2015 at 7:05 am

    Hi, I live in a villa in Bali….I would like to paint the decorative border tile which runs around the total bathroom, as this is up high it will never be exposed to water or dampness. The tile is embossed with floral pattern, I was thinking of painting it to hide the colourful pattern, the only problem here in Bali you can’t buy any of the products you have mention. If I was to clean the tile properly could I use normal paint?



  • Josh Says:
    March 3rd, 2015 at 8:39 pm

    I have a bathroom that a prior owner painted the ceramic tile walls and floor. I would like to repaint. Is there a different process for tile that has previously been painted? Some of the paint is loose or missing, but 99% is still intact. I would like to do a gloss finish since the floor is white and looks dingy due to flat finish and years of wear. Any help is appreciated. Thanks



  • Paraic Carson Says:
    February 18th, 2015 at 5:59 am

    Hi guys I have a tiled bathroom which someone has painted already but it’s a poor job I’m now looking to paint over this the way you have recommended but will I have to remove the current paint that’s on the tile ?
    Thanks guys



  • Judy Says:
    February 9th, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    My shower has tile floor and tile walls. The grout is permanently stained (nothing will clean it!) and the floor tiles have quite a few tiny chipped places near the grout lines. I am in my seventies and will be doing the work myself. Is there any non-toxic product for painting over the shower wall tiles and shower floor tiles? I need something that will last and stay white and be easy to clean.



  • Carolyn Says:
    January 25th, 2015 at 2:00 pm

    My comment is this, I would like to read your answers to each question. I find each question interesting.


  • Official Comment:


    Ben Erickson Says:
    January 25th, 2015 at 8:00 pm

    Amber,
    Yes, you can paint bathroom wall tile with good results if you follow the procedure outlined in the article above. Good luck with your project?



  • Amber Says:
    January 16th, 2015 at 3:19 pm

    I have pink and black tile that lines my bathroom walls. About four feet high. We really don’t want to fight with the tile as far as removing it then redoing the walls. It does not go into the shower. Those fell out a year ago and we put a new case up in the shower. Anyway my question is this: can we paint those tiles on the wall and what is best for a bathroom that is smaller?



  • Sue Harmon Says:
    January 8th, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    I am changing the color in my bathroom, have white ceramic tile around the tub with a 1/2″ x 6″ colored strip close to the top, can I paint that strip my new color and if so, what kind of paint do I need..Thanks for your info.



  • Barbara Mcclure Says:
    January 6th, 2015 at 9:46 pm

    I have cheap pasteboard cabinets that have faux wood finish, some kind of paper or something on them. Do you have a method of painting them that will actually stick to the slick surface?



  • Vee Says:
    December 26th, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    I have a tile shower stall. The walls are in OK shape but the floor looks discolored and dirty, even when clean. Can I paint the tile floor of my shower stall? It obviously gets a lot of water, so maybe it is not possible. Thanks much. Vee



  • Robert Mueller Says:
    November 25th, 2014 at 8:44 pm

    I have a ceremic kitchen counter top that i would like to restore with a paint, is your product suitable for this procudure. Thankn you for your time. Bob



  • Terrie Says:
    November 14th, 2014 at 7:51 pm

    I want to clean and prime my bathroom tiles this weekend and them paint next weekend. Will waiting a week effect the Finish?



  • Jo williams Says:
    November 5th, 2014 at 5:29 am

    I am wanting to paint the ceramic wall tiles in my kitchen I have prepared as all the instructions tell you to do I just paint as normal thank you



  • Thulie Says:
    September 29th, 2014 at 4:24 am

    My bathroom floor tile is white i need to change the colour to light brown. Please advise how to do it.

    Thanks



  • norma major Says:
    July 28th, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    Can ceramic floor tiles be painted has the wall tiles and is it the same procedure.



  • Rae Jean Ulrichs Says:
    February 1st, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    Is it possible to paint over a marble ceramic vanity sink? What to you recommend?


  • Official Comment:


    Ben Erickson Says:
    August 6th, 2013 at 10:27 am

    Hi Olive,
    Your can fill voids from broken tile with floor patch compound.
    Thank you for your interest!



  • Olive Sayers Says:
    July 30th, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    I listened to your show and heard your answer I asked about putting linoleum over tile floor. They are about 1 inch X 1 inch squares. I guess I should take the commode out , take up bad tile, put down linoleum n then reinstall commode and use caulk around. Am I right? I found your show very interesting and informing. Is there anything I can use to fill the void spots where tile comes up? I hope you can follow my questions. I am 83 and plan on trying to do this job myself. Too much for me to undertake? 716-745-3488. Thanks for your info today.


  • Official Comment:


    Ben Erickson Says:
    July 30th, 2013 at 8:24 am

    Hi Olive,
    Your best bet is to remove the tile floor and start over.
    Thank you for your interest!



  • Olive Sayers Says:
    July 24th, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    I have 1″X 1″ tile on my master bedroom bath. It is cracking and breaking in places. Is there anyway to correct this problem besides taking it up and putting something else? Can I put underlayment on top of broken tile floor and then put linoleum down. Thanks.



  • Allie Says:
    April 14th, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    Hi,

    I have tile on my bathroom wall surrounding the tub. I believe it is ceramic. I am thinking of using Rustoleum Tub & Tile but I believe there are only three colors. Is it possible to use that and then paint over it with regular paint? There is not much information I can find on the best way to paint ceramic bathroom tiles. The tub is rarely used so a lot moisture shouldn’t be much of an issue. If you have any suggestions I would appreciate it!

    Thanks,

    Allie



  • Vonceil Cunningham Says:
    April 12th, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    I have white tile in my kitchen. Would it be possible to paint over that. Would like some advice.


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