Tile paint 101

Tile painting may be experiencing a resurgence in popularity today, but it is by no means a new phenomenon. According to Hand Painted Tiles, floor tiles made out of clay were hand-painted, filled with slip, and glazed before use as early as the Middle Ages. Because these tiles were expensive, they were most often used in the homes of the rich and powerful, in churches, or in institutional buildings.

The industrial revolution changed the tiling industry. We went from expensive handcrafted terracotta floor tiles to mass-produced ceramic or porcelain ones. Cheap factory tiles are now available everywhere, and so traditional bathroom tile painting is a little less common than it used to be.

Tile paint pros and cons

Painting over tiles comes has its own benefits and disadvantages. These pros and cons will help you decide if DIY tile painting is the right solution for you.

painting tiles



  • You can completely customize your bathroom tiles the way you want it.
  • You can change ugly or outdated tiles to feel like new.
  • Painted tile can be durable and withstand regular wear and tear just like store-bought tile.
  • It requires less time and money than completely re-tiling your bathroom.


  • As a DIY project, it’s quite an undertaking; you’ll need to do all of the designing, prep work, and the actual painting.
  • Between painting and drying, a bathroom tile paint job can take up to a week to complete.
  • If done incorrectly, your painted tile may chip or peel.

DIY vs. hiring a contractor for tile painting

DIY home renovation, for all its advantages, is not for everyone. Bathroom remodelling, in particular, is a pretty daunting job even for confident DIYers.

For more complex jobs that require training, equipment, and skill—such as plumbing, electric work, and more—you’re better off enlisting the help of professionals. If you’re in a rush, you can’t beat the speed and efficiency of a crew of skilled trades.

But when you’re talking about bathroom tile painting, in particular, going DIY is still a very viable option.

OneFlare explains that of all of the rooms in the house, bathrooms are one of the least painted. This is most likely because most people don’t even know that you can paint bathroom tiles.

And for those who do know, the high cost of tile painting may make them reconsider. But if you have the time and patience to complete the job, painting bathroom floor tiles on your own can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

woman mopping tiles


How to paint tile floors

If you’ve chosen the DIY path, you’ll need to know how to paint the floor properly to avoid cracks and chips in the future. Here’s a basic guide on how to paint bathroom tiles in a shower:

  1. Using a brush, mop, and tile cleaner, scrub the floors and grout thoroughly. You may also want to sand down the tiles to roughen up the surfaces and prepare it for painting.
  2. Open the windows and doors. Set up fans for better ventilation.
  3. Prepare your tile painting materials:
  • Painter’s tape, to mask edges
  • Tile paint primer
  • Tile paint colours of choice
  • Paint rollers and brushes
  • Sealant/polyurethane
  • Stencils, if necessary
  1. Apply your paint primer to the tiles and grout. Let it dry completely before the next step.
  2. Apply your first coat of paint in smooth strokes. If you’re using a stencil, spraying your bathroom tiles with paint (using a spray gun, not a spray can) can be a clean and efficient way to get the job done.
  3. Let the first coat of paint dry for a few days, then reapply the second coat. Let dry again.
  4. Apply sealant/polyurethane over the painted tiles. You will need around 2-3 coats, and you need to let it dry in between.
  5. Enjoy your new painted tiles!

What paint can you use to paint tiles?

You can’t use just any kind of paint on ceramic bathroom tile. You need paint that isn’t water-based, otherwise, it will disintegrate in your bathroom. The best choice is anti-bacterial, water-resistant epoxy paint. Most of the time, home kits and DIY tile paints are available in limited colours like white, grey, or black.

We can recommend White Knight Tile Paint because it’s available to tint to thousands of colours. You can also consider getting a prepackaged tile painting kit from Rust-Oleum or Homax, which includes the paint and supplies. Lastly, if you’re in a rush, there’s also One Coat Tile Paint that reduces your drying time.

paint roller and brush on tiles


What about wall tiles, shower tiles, and the bathtub?

If you’re redoing your bathroom anyway, can you paint shower tile? Can you paint a bathtub? How do you paint bathroom tiles in a shower?

The good news is that, using the same materials and a similar process, you can use tile paint to cover your wall tiles, shower tiles, and the bathtub for a more cohesive look.

Painting your own bathroom tiles can be an easy, affordable way to renovate your bathrooms. While it does require some time and effort on your part, you’ll give your bathroom a wonderfully unique look, and you’ll save some money while you’re at it!

You might also like:

Bathroom design ideas for makeovers and renovations 

5 unexpected ways to use patterned tiles

Easy bathroom design updates 


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