Tile Paint (How to Paint Ceramic Tile)

When you set your mind on redecorating your home, everything must be included in a total overhaul. Huge shopping lists, design browsing, getting down to the pros and cons of every idea that went through your head. And just as you thought you got the whole thing figured out you came across a video on YouTube telling you half of what you planned is not Feng Shui. These tasks can be stressful, especially when the only thing left to fit in the new theme is the ceramic tiles that are sticking out. Painting over ceramic tiles is not that hard, just follow the steps below.



What will you need for this project?

To do the tile makeover, you will need a set of tools to get the job done.

  • First, you will need a 220-grit sandpaper to prepare and flatten the surface of the tiles. You can also get a sander or just use it with your bare hands.
  • Next, you will need something to clean them up; any clean cloth will do and get yourself some rags while you’re at it since you will need them later to wipe the paint drips.
  • To clean the tiles, you will need a commercial tile cleaner.
  • For applying the paint get a small paint roller and a paintbrush.
  • The only thing left is the oil-based primer and an oil-based color of your choice.

Places Where The Painting Can Be Done

It’s important for you to know that painting some tiles can be useless.

Painting any tile that gets repeatedly has no point, the paint won’t stick, and continuous watering will remove the whole thing.

Now, don’t get discouraged right away, it can be done, but with a specialized paint and with professional skills.

It just isn’t something that can be done by anyone. Any other location of the tiles will be fine, being that the hallway, kitchen floor, and the bathroom if the tiles are not in the shower.

What Products To Use


What products to use for this project?

To clean the tiles, you can use any soap, but it won’t do the job properly. The tile has to be free of any dirt, grease, oil, etc. to provide the paint the right bonding conditions.

  • First, get yourself a good cleaning solution, they usually come in powder, and they are mixed with water.
  • As for the paint, you should get the one that will not peel easily.
    As mentioned above, oil-based paint is the right choice. If you have a hard time finding the oil-based paint due to the pollution laws, the good substitute would be a water-based paint that contains a urethane resin. Urethane gives the paint the ability to stick which is very important when it comes to painting glossy surfaces like ceramic tiles.
  • To protect the paint and keep its looks fresh for a longer time, you can use coating over the applied paint. Get a heavy-duty polyurethane that will give the tiles reflecting look like a hardwood floor.
    If you want to paint the grout, you can do so, the easiest and the best thing to do is to paint it with the same color used for painting the tiles.

Preparing The Tiles


Make no mistake; this is the most important part of the painting process. The surface has to be prepared, so the paint sticks to it. The thing that is keeping the paint to stick in the case of ceramic tiles it the gloss finish the have.

Clean the entire surface of tiles and remove the gloss top with the mild abrasive. Once the surface is clean, you can proceed to remove the shine completely with the sandpaper.

You can do this with an orbital sander, but if you can get ahold of one, you can do it by hand too, it will just take a lot more time to finish.

To help yourself out with the sanding by hand, you can grab a piece of board and wrap the sandpaper around it; it will ease the process and make it a lot more comfortable.

Make the surface flat and gloss-free, once you are sure it is done correctly, proceed to clean the dust.

You can vacuum the dust on the surface of the tiles or use a broom, any way you do it you should clean it with water, so there is absolutely nothing left. Then wipe the surface with a dry rag and leave it to dry completely for an hour.

Painting Process

We’ve arrived to the main deal. Let’s see the necessary steps in order:

Set the Base

Check if the tiles are dry and free of dust, if everything is in order, the painting can begin. Use a high-quality primer to make a good base for the paint. It would be the best that you don’t get any cheap products since this painting surface is not simple like any other. The primer should create a strong bond for the paint to stick to the tiles properly.

Make Sure to Cover the Corners

First, the corners should be covered so you can use the roller with more confidence. Get a brush and apply the primer in the corners then proceed to apply it everywhere else with the roller. Don’t rush and go slowly, make sure there are no lines caused by the edges of the roller.

Leave It to Dry and Treat It with Sandpaper

Check the can of the primer for recommended time it needs to dry, and leave it be. After the drying process is complete and you are sure the primer is completely dry, take the sandpaper, and use the fresh one, not the one you used before, make a light pass with it over the surface.

Don’t remove the primer with the sandpaper, that is not the point; the only thing that should be removed are small burrs that you find. Be very gentle and do it in detail, the surface will be shiny when the painting is done, and any imperfection will be noticeable.

Be 100% Sure Which Paint You Will Use

What kind of paint to use on ceramic tiles? You might have come across a few pieces of advice to get the latex paint for the top finish. As already mentioned, the best solution is the oil-based paints. They do late longer time to apply and to dry, but it’s the most durable finish you will get. Latex paints give a soft feel to them, and they are very prone to peeling, especially on surfaces like ceramic tiles.

Apply The Paint

To make the surface stronger and more resistant use the oil-based paint and apply it in multiple layers. It can be done with one thick layer, but applying it multiple times with thin layers you will make the surface much stronger. The process will require much more work, but it will pay off in the future, and when you look at it you will not regret the effort put in the process.

Applying the oil-based paint can be messy so keep a rag or two near you. Remember that each time you apply the layer, leave it to dry, then apply another one. Three layers will be quite enough to have a nice glossy finish and a strong surface that will be durable enough to preserve itself over the time.

Some DIY Projects On Paint Over Ceramic Tiles

To give your imagination a push and a boost to your inspiration and ideas for the design, here are some DIY projects that might be helpful.

This project is a complete overhaul of a bathroom, made by Savannah from Classy Clutter. It’s a 50 buck makeover that gives an entirely new and fresh look to the whole bathroom. The black base color is simple and yet classy with the contrast of the top white flower patterns to make them pop out. A fantastic, beautiful transformation that is quick and easy to make. Always a good idea from the one of the authors of the very popular creative blog.

A more professional DIY approach, here the floor stencil is used to make a beautiful pattern with light colors. Royal Design Studio is a leader in quality decorative wall stencils, stenciling and decorative painting tools and techniques.

This is a pretty fast way to make the tiles look like they are purchased like that, but no, it’s all the work of a hand. Nothing less to expect from Royal Design Studio Stencils.

Another project completed with floor stencils, this time with custom ones. Jess from Bright Green Door used custom stencils from StencilsOnline. Her floors that lead to the mudroom simply had to be decorated, and this dark gray and white color stencil design was the perfect choice.

The very attractive solution with faux cement, take a look and maybe you come around something even better.

Beautiful Mysha from Remington Avenue has made a detailed, step-by-step guide on how to make the perfect stencil decoration. This is a detailed guide for tile painting with pre-made stencils, volume two.

If you got interested in floor stencils by now, going through this guide can be very helpful, and as you can see from Mysha’s place, it can make an amazing indoor experience.

If the goal was to paint the floor tiles, why stop there? You can give the ones on the wall of your kitchen a new look too! Here’s a fantastic example of a simple yet a beautiful solution, made by Laura Gummerman. This post came from A Beautiful Mess, DIY creative blog of sisters Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman. They are authors of several books, have their own app and online course, as well as product line.

This is one of the most creative solutions that you can do with ceramic tiles and paint. You can turn an old and ugly table top in a complete art piece to admire while sipping the coffee. Check what Serena Appiah from Thrift Diving has done, and learn from her creative process. Her blog is a great DIY inspiration for everyone, and she shares beautiful and innovative ideas regularly.


You should be fed with enough ideas to do all kinds of makeovers using the paint on the ceramic tiles; the sky is the limit! Every DIY project is fun and rewarding when you know what are you doing beforehand. Hopefully, this guide was a good tool for your future designing endeavors. Get creative, and get to work!

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