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How to Paint Ceramic Tile

Freshen Up Old Ceramic Tile With a Fresh New Color


How to Paint Ceramic Tile

Add color and punch to a plain white bathroom by painting the ceramic tile countertop.

Photo courtesy of Glenna Morton

You can transform a kitchen or bathroom if you paint the ceramic tile. If the ceramic tile is old and dingy or just a color that you don’t like, you can get a fresh look with a careful covering of paint.

Cautions Before You Paint Ceramic Tile

  • Do not paint a ceramic tile floor unless the main area of traffic is covered by a decorative rug. Shoes and dirt will cause the paint to scratch and wear off.


  • Do not paint ceramic tile in a shower or near a bathtub. The constant moisture will cause the paint to peel off.


  • To preserve the painted tile finish, you will always need to use a cutting board on a countertop.


  • Never place hot pans on a painted ceramic tile counter. The heat will cause the painted finish to bubble and peel.


  • The surface of your painted ceramic tile will be only as good as the base you paint over. If the grout is broken or cracked, repair it at least 48 hours ahead of the painting day. If the tile is cracked or gouged, fill the imperfections.


  • It will take about 2 weeks for the paint to thoroughly dry and cure. You must be patient so that the surface will last.


  • If you don't do proper preparations, you will not be happy with the finished product. Take the time to clean, sand, dust, dry, and paint very carefully.

Tips for Painting Ceramic Tile

  • Since the paint could eventually wear or scratch off, painting ceramic tile should be reserved for vertical surfaces or countertops.


  • Select a top-quality 100% acrylic semi-gloss primer and paint. You’ll be spending several days on this project so you should use the best materials available.


  • You can choose any color you want and custom-match the paint to other decorative elements in your home.


  • When painting ceramic tile, the primer and paint should be slightly thin and you should apply several thin layers rather than one thick layer of paint. Use a brush to cut in the edges and roll the surface with a lint-free low-nap roller.


  • For a more realistic look, use a small artist brush to paint narrow contrasting grout lines after the final coat has dried thoroughly. This will require a lot of patience but the results will be amazing. You can use a straight edge to follow the grout lines.

Equipment for Painting Ceramic Tile

  • Top-quality tinted acrylic paint primer
  • Top-quality acrylic semi-gloss interior paint
  • Top quality urethane
  • Heavy-duty rubber gloves
  • TSP or other heavy-duty cleaner
  • Scrubber
  • Sponge
  • Painter's tape
  • Very fine grit (220-grit) sandpaper, electric sander optional
  • A cloth to clean up paint drips
  • Lots of clean water
  • Rags
  • A paint brush to cut-in around edges
  • A high-quality, lint-free, low nap paint roller
  • An artist brush to paint the grout lines

Go on to Page 2 for step-by-step instructions for painting ceramic tile.

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