How to Paint Over Ceramic Tile in a Bathroom

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.


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.


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 Lipford signature

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

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  • Official Comment:

    Thomas Boni Says:
    August 21st, 2019 at 1:50 pm

    Hi, Jenny-Lee,
    Every home’s different, but we’ve had great results with these method, and it’s lasted for years.
    It’s good to proceed with caution, though.
    Good luck with your project!

  • Jenny-Lee Says:
    August 21st, 2019 at 6:51 am


    Hi I want to do a diy job on my bathroom but I’ve been told that painting over the tiles in a shower won’t work or at least won’t last and I will end up having to it again and again. Is there a way around this i.e the instructions you’ve given above, is that enough to keep the paint in a shower good for a long time?

    Many Thanks


  • Official Comment:

    Thomas Boni Says:
    July 18th, 2019 at 11:00 am

    Hi, Jnette,
    This sounds like an awesome project!
    Regarding your questions: There’s really no one-size-fits-all approach. We recommend checking the stencil paint and the chalk paint’s labels to see what the manufacturer recommends and cautions against.
    Good luck!

  • Jnette Says:
    July 7th, 2019 at 4:48 pm

    I want to paint a stencil design on my existing floor tile, without repainting a base coat. will the stencil paint adhere directly to the tile without a primer/base coat? If I do chalk paint, what type of sealer should I use and will it affect the finished result?

  • Official Comment:

    Thomas Boni Says:
    May 12th, 2019 at 1:29 pm

    Hi, Marsha,
    It depends on the tile; if it is glazed ceramic (and most are) it could be difficult to get a wash/stain to stick.
    If you have spare tiles, experiment on one of them and tell us how it goes! 🙂

  • Marsha Henry Says:
    April 2nd, 2019 at 9:37 am

    My ceramic tile is somewhat textured with with 3 to 4 different colors blended in. I want to keep the blended look but I want the tile to be a much lighter color. If I whitewash it, will that work? Or can I stain it a lighter color and maintain the variances in color?

  • Miranda Cunningham Says:
    March 17th, 2019 at 5:58 am

    I want the white tile, dark grout look in my bathroom. The contractor we bought the house from painted the tiles white latex…. No primer. It’s scraping off. I know I’ll have to use a heat gun and scrapper to remove what’s there. Then prep and use the Rust-Oleum tile paint kit. My question is if there is then a way to add the dark grout look? Can I tape off the grout when I paint, or dremmel down to it? Maybe add new dark grout after like you would if you were maintenanceing the grout? Is there a way to get this look?

  • Official Comment:

    Thomas Boni Says:
    January 29th, 2019 at 8:41 am

    Hi, Ariana,
    We haven’t covered that topic yet, but you might try this resource from our friends at SFGate:
    Let us know how it works for you!

  • Ariana Gomez Says:
    January 29th, 2019 at 7:04 am

    Hi, Thank you so much for sharing this informative blog and it seems really helpful, But I would like to know what about painting porcelain tiles in the bathroom? Is it possible to paint a polished porcelain tile?

  • Official Comment:

    Thomas Boni Says:
    January 15th, 2019 at 3:39 pm

    Hi, Shawne,
    We don’t recommend painting over the tiles as they are. It’s best to sand them and start over again.
    Simply follow the steps in this article (with extra emphasis on the sanding step), ensure the entire surface is smooth, with no peeling paint, and then make that surround look beautiful!
    Good luck!

  • Shawne Says:
    January 14th, 2019 at 6:29 pm

    My problem is more complicated. The tiles have already been painted by previous homeowner and now it is peeling off in areas to show a blue tile. My choices are to remove all of the white paint and start over again or to just paint over it all. I can’t afford to have a surround put in and this bathtub/shower is must be updated, it look horrible. Any suggestions?

  • Official Comment:

    Thomas Boni Says:
    December 17th, 2018 at 1:39 pm

    Hi, Stephanie!
    We recommend checking out this resource to choose the right paintbrush for the job:
    Thanks for your question!

  • Stephanie Says:
    December 10th, 2018 at 7:37 pm

    Hi what kind of pain brush would you recommend for painting epoxy over bathroom tile?

  • P.C. Bed Says:
    November 6th, 2018 at 6:11 pm

    I think you have mentioned some very interesting details, appreciate it for the post.

  • Rachael Says:
    October 29th, 2018 at 7:37 am

    Hi I accidently painted my bathroom tiles with satin floor tile paint is there anyway to make it waterproof is there anything I can go over the paint with thank you

  • Official Comment:

    Thomas Boni Says:
    September 26th, 2018 at 9:07 am

    Hi, Patricia,
    Please include a photo with your question so we can understand the issue.
    We accept photos at
    Thanks so much!

  • Patricia A Guerrero Says:
    September 18th, 2018 at 12:47 am

    Help! We installed a new shower and the tile is not the subtle color grey vein Pseudo marble I thought, but black veined… busy, looks like spotted cow lighting. It’s terrible and I want to paint the shower stall turquoise. Any suggestions?

  • thobekilejulia van wyk Says:
    April 26th, 2018 at 5:24 pm

    i want to repaint my ceramic bath in avacado eggshell wher can i get this paintaround roodepoort florida and krugersdorp westrand johannesburgh s.a.

  • Patricia Wilson Says:
    March 14th, 2018 at 5:45 pm

    It really helped when you talked about how cleaning, sanding, and dusting tiles are necessary before painting tiles because it allows the paint to stick better. My husband has been wanting to reinvent our bathroom by getting the tiles a new paint job. He wanted to use pastel colors to make the bathroom more relaxing. I’d be sure to share this article with him so he can pick up a few pointers for himself. If all else fails, we can always enlist a professional to do the job. Thanks for this good read!

  • Simi Says:
    February 22nd, 2018 at 9:29 am

    I have painted over outdated linoleum and tile and have had great success. It is important to prep and seal in order for it to last. In our master bath I painted over country blue (yikes) tile and made it look like a terracotta. It was not under constant water, but worked well until we were able to replace (10 years and no peeling). I have also painted the floor in the upstairs hall bath. Right now I am repainting it a light gray. We will see how it comes out! The key is to use multiple paint colors and sheer layers of glaze or watered down paint to make it look like tile and not “painted.”

  • Susan Steele Says:
    February 22nd, 2018 at 9:03 am

    Why not panel over the tile with wainscoting, board and batten etc.?

  • Linda Trammel Says:
    January 19th, 2018 at 10:32 am

    Fifteen years ago we built a house and of course made some mistakes. One of those was to put the same tile around a tub and wall behind the tub as what is on the floors throughout the house. Now it looks very very dated and a tannish color that I do not like at all. It stands out like a sore thumb! I would like to either paint all that a white and the surrounding walls as well. Or should I try to take out that tile around tub and the wall instead of painting. I want the least expensive but the most eye appealing too. And what will last for a long time. The tub is a spa like tub w/o the jets and is hardly ever used. The faucets are put into this tile where a shelf surround has been built (all tile). There is a shower head above on the wall. Worst mistake we ever made but now I am a widow and do not have anyone to guide me in this endeavor. Please help!

  • Angie Says:
    October 22nd, 2017 at 9:05 am

    I am very suspicious of the bonding primer recommended as I used that on my kitchen cabinets and the paint adhered to the bonding primer but the bonding primer DID NOT adhere to the cabinets, after much sanding and prepping so I am concerned will the bonding primer actually adhere to the tile?

  • Barbara Says:
    July 22nd, 2017 at 7:42 am

    Could someone let me know if they have painted over tiles in shower cubical and if so was it a good job and what’s the best paint to use my tiles are white so I’d like them a darker colour thanks .

  • Kim Says:
    July 8th, 2017 at 5:34 pm

    Help! I painted the first coat over my bathroom wall tile with epoxy yesterday. 70% of it looks great…but the area around my bathtub has many sections where the paint did not stick and has a bursted bubble effect. My question is: do I apply the second coat and hope for the best, or is there any way I can remove that area around the bath and start again. My google searches say epoxy is pretty much impossible to remove without a lot of mess or toxic strippers, I was wondering if I could sand over these areas to smooth them, then apply two more coats. What would you do?

  • Jorge Herrera Says:
    February 10th, 2017 at 3:13 pm

    Could you recommend me some product to paint a big external area at the mall?

  • 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


  • 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


  • 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.
    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

    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.


  • 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


    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!



  • 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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How to Paint Over Ceramic Tile in a Bathroom