How To Paint Ceramic Tile

If you want to give an old tiled wall or floor a fresh new look on a budget, why not learn how to paint ceramic tile? Worn ceramic surfaces that will cost a fortune to replace can be made to look like new. Even grout too grimy for clean up can look beautiful once painted. The process is easy, and you can choose the type of paint you use based on your decorating style and budget. Here’s all you need to know to paint ceramic tile for a fresh new look.

What you’ll need to paint ceramic tile:

  • TSP (Trisodium Phospate) Cleaner
  • Rubber gloves
  • P-150 grit sandpaper
  • Bonding primer
  • Main shade of porcelain paint, or semi gloss latex paint, or garage floor paint
  • Accent (grout) shade of porcelain paint, or semi gloss latex paint, or garage floor paint
  • Roller or paint brush
  • Foam brush
  • Sponge
  • Small painter’s brush
  • Painter’s tape

How to Paint Ceramic Tile:

  1. Sand the tile. To paint ceramic tile, you must first make the tile more permeable. Using P-150 grit sandpaper, sand the tile with a palm sander or by hand using a sanding block. Take only a thin layer off the tile by moving quickly across it in straight lines. Start in a side corner that will be less visible, to allow for over-sanding as you get used to the process.
  2. Wash the Tile. Before you can paint ceramic tile, you must remove all impurities that will interfere with the smooth surface of the paint or prevent it from clinging evenly to the tile. Vacuum the ceramic tile with the soft attachment of a hand held vacuum cleaner. Next, wearing protective rubber gloves, wipe the tile down with a sponge dipped in Trisodium Phospate cleaner. This will remove any wax residue left by the sandpaper, as well as grime and oil.
  3. Apply bonding primer to the tile. Priming the surface before painting ceramic tile will ensure that the paint adheres evenly and permanently. Wearing protective gloves, paint the tile with a bonding primer using a foam brush. When painting a large surface of ceramic tile, be prepared to change the foam brush with a fresh one when it begins to crack in the middle. Work in straight lines, allowing the bonding primer to seep into the grout.
  4. Paint the tile. Once the bonding primer is dry, use a paint brush or roller to paint the ceramic tile with semi-gloss latex paint, porcelain paint or garage floor paint, depending on your decorating preference and budget. Work in straight lines and pass slowly over the grout to provide it full coverage. When you paint ceramic tile, it’s important to reach into the grout crevice so that later a mere highlight will suffice to return the accent shade to the grouted lines.
  5. Curing the paint. Painted ceramic tile will feel dry within a few hours. In fact, paint can take up to two weeks to cure (dry) fully. Though the top layer of the painted ceramic tile will feel solid, the layers within will remain vulnerable to impression. As a result the tile will be easily scratched or marred during this period. Use the area lightly or avoid it completely if possible.
  6. Painting grout lines. After two weeks, the painted ceramic tile should be fully dry and safe from scratches. To paint ceramic tile grout lines, adhere painter’s tape in horizontal lines across the tile, leaving the grout visible between two lines of tape. Cover the whole surface in this way, then use a thin painter’s brush to apply the accent shade of paint in straight lines. Leave the horizontal grout lines to dry for one day before peeling the tape off and repeating this step for the vertical lines.
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