Painting a Tile as an Alternative to Replacement

Painting a Tile as an Alternative to Replacement

Painting a tile seems a solution for nasty tiles in the bathroom or kitchen. After all, tile is permanent. Tile replacement is not an easy task. That is why many homeowners consider painting tile instead of replacement.

If You Do Successfully Paint Your Tiles, It Might

  • Prolong the life of tiles.
  • Avoid costly and messy ripping out and replacement of tiles.
  • Achieve exactly the color you want to have.
  • Provides the opportunity to patch cracks and dings (the paint will cover up the patch material).

Risks Include

  • Paint will begin to peel over time.
  • Painted tiles also mean painted grout.
  • Requires extensive tile-cleaning to prepare the surface.
  • At best, painting tile is a temporary fix.

Tile Paint

Look at tile paint as falling into 3 categories:

  1. Spray Paint: Cans of epoxy modified acrylic paint such as Valspar Terracotta (which is texturized) or Valspar Premium Enamel Spray Paint (untextured).
  2. Two-Part Paint: Mix part A with part B, resulting in a third substance which you brush or spray onto the tile. XIM Tile DOC Kit is one such example.
  3. Two-Process Paint: Rust-Oleum Tile Transformations is the best-known example of two-process tile paint. First, you apply a bonding agent. Second, you apply the top finish coat.

Preparing the Surface for Painting

Any painting job requires extensive surface preparation, such as sanding and cleaning. But when painting tile this is crucial because the margin for error is so slim.

You can get by and forget to clean or sand the wood that you are painting. However, forget to prepare your tile surface properly, you may find the paint peeling off six months later. The only exception is when you intend to paint a tile surround in a tub or shower.

  1. Assess exactly where your tile is located because this makes a difference. Tile counters (around stoves) and tile backsplashes near stoves will be the most difficult to clean due to years of grease build-up. Tile around bathtubs and showers have a similar problem, but in this case with soap and cleansers. Even within a single field of tile, you can have different areas, some cleaner than others. A tile surround in a bathtub/shower will undoubtedly have much soap and cleanser build-up in the lower rows of tile. The tile in the upper rows will be relatively clean.
  2. Begin by taking off the large areas of imperfection – mold, mildew, and fungus – with a commercial cleaner, rinse with clean water, and let thoroughly dry.
  3. Use a hand-held orbital sander with fine-grit paper (400 grit or higher and remember, higher numbers mean a finer grit). Hit the tile lightly. The aim is not to completely sand off the glaze but to further remove grease, soap, and other types of build-up, and to lightly scuff the glaze.
  4. Clean thoroughly with water.
  5. Use a tack cloth. When the tack cloth comes up completely clean, the tile is ready for painting.