DIY Tips to Painting Old Bathroom Tile

To me two of the most important rooms in your house are the kitchen and of course, the bathroom. These are rooms that we spent a lot of our time in, where our guest will visit at one time or another, a place we went to be proud of. I remember one of the houses we looked at when house hunting and one bathroom still had some pretty retro green tile on the floor and the walls. YUCK! Keeping our bathrooms updated & modern can get quite expensive especially if you are looking at replacing flooring, walls, and even tubs, toilets and sinks. But you can give your bathroom the make-over you desire without breaking the bank. Something as simple as an changing the tile, or updating the paint color or finish completely, or just adding smaller designs or accents to the tile, can give your bathroom a refreshing update.

Painting tile is not for the faint of heart though – this isn’t like painting the walls in your kitchen. It requires much greater attention to detail, considerable down time while the paint cures, (i.e, I hope you have another bathroom, or you’re going to be visiting your neighbors a few times a day) and ample ventilation. If you think your up to the challenge, here are a few tips to make your project a success.


 No matter which method you choose, always start with extremely squeaky clean tile and use high quality primer, epoxy paint and brushes. Epoxy paint adheres to the surface and provides a smooth, waterproof coating that can stand up to a high humidity environment (i.e., hot, steamy showers!)

Open any windows and turn on the exhaust fan, if you have one. Place drop-cloths and apply masking tape to any areas you don’t want to want paint all over. I would highly recommend that even if you think that you are extra cautious to do this on everything (yes, I am speaking from experience).Then clean, clean, CLEAN! Rinse the ceramic tile thoroughly and dry it with a lint-free towel.

Sand like a crazy person.  With a DIY epoxy kit, your job is only going to be as good as the time you spend cleaning and sanding; a rough surface is your primary source of adhesion. DO NOT skimp on this step! You WILL be sorry if you do!  The better your prep, the more satisfied you will be. You don’t want to be doing your business, or worse yet, having a friend doing theirs, and look around to see what a shoddy job you did. Time & effort with this project are essential!

Wear a respirator mask and use a fan. Ventilate, ventilate, ventilate. Epoxy is vile stuff to breathe in. Wear rubber gloves. You don’t want this on you either!

Use a spray gun. Brushing and rolling can work, but a spray gun gives the best finish — use a pro-grade model if you can swing it.

Don’t use regular spray paint. It will look like your plastic lawn furniture that you let the kids paint last summer –  splurge for the good stuff! I promise it will be worth it. Also don’t use any type of water based paint either – you are painting a hot, steamy, wet bathroom…so use common sense

Don’t take a long, hot bath — at least not for a while. Follow instructions about how long the epoxy should cure before you use the tub, and if you can wait even longer, do. Some impatient painters end up with wrinkly surfaces – and a lot of frustration.

After you paint and update the tile, remember to accessorize! The right bathroom accessories can make or break your finished look. 

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