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Can You Paint Floor Tiles?

Updated Jan 13, 2023

Updated Jan 13, 2023

Home > Flooring > Can You Paint Floor Tiles?

Painting tile floors completely transforms a room, giving it a total makeover and a different feel. However, buying prepainted tiles and replacing your current tiling can be very expensive. The national average for tile flooring installation is $3,500. In contrast, painting your floors will only cost you the price of the paint and some of your time. 

Below, we’re sharing the steps you should take to paint floor tiles and what you need to consider to make this home improvement DIY project successful.  

Which Tiles Can I Paint?

There are two factors to consider before starting your painting project. 

  1. Consider the quality of your flooring. Do your tiles have a lot of wear and tear? Are they scuffed up, or do they have chipping? Specific issues, like grime in the grout lines, can be removed with some elbow grease, but other problems, like chipped tiles, will require more serious fixes or replacement first. 
  2. Assess where your tile flooring is located within the home. Tile flooring located in areas with high-moisture exposure, like the bathroom, should be avoided. If you must paint tiles in high-moisture spaces, choose an area of the bathroom tiles away from the bathtub or shower. 

How To Prepare Floor Tiles for Painting

cleaning tile floor with a cleaning solution
Image Source: Canva

A successful painting project starts with a smooth, undamaged canvas. Take the following steps to prepare your tile flooring for painting so that the tiles look beautiful and your paint job lasts: 

  1. Clean your floors thoroughly. Before anything else, eliminate all dirt and grime in the area to create a smooth base. We recommend donning cleaning gloves, long sleeves, and a respirator for this part because mold and grime cleaning products can harm your respiratory system. Section this part of your home off as you clean and keep children and pets away for their safety. We recommend cleaning with grime-busting TSP, or trisodium phosphate cleaner, which is a powder added to water that will swiftly break through oil, grease, and soot on the surface of ceramic tiles. Follow the instructions on the back of the TSP container and create a cleaning solution, then scrub at your files with a scrub brush and dry rags. Give your floors plenty of time to air dry thoroughly after the job is done. 
  2. Sand the tiles. Creating a smooth surface allows the paint to go on smoothly. Use an orbital palm sander and fine-grit sandpaper to remove added finishes on the tile, especially if your tiles are glossy. Follow up with a clean, damp cloth to remove extra dust. 
  3. Make necessary repairs. If any of your grout is missing or there are cracks in the tiles, you’ll need to fix these areas before you prime and paint. Assess the severity of the damage and repair or replace this section. Consider hiring a tile replacement and repair professional if the necessary repairs are intensive. 
  4. Prime the tiles. Priming the tiles is critical because it prevents peeling and flaking over time. Spend a couple of extra dollars and purchase a high-adhesion primer from Amazon, The Home Depot, or your local home improvement store. High-adhesion primer chemically bonds to the tile, forming a smooth surface to apply the paint. We recommend using a paint tray and foam roller to apply the primer to the tile surface. Take care to distribute the product evenly. Otherwise, you’ll end up with an uneven paint job. 
  5. Paint the tiles. Painting the tiles is the easiest part of this process after you’ve scrubbed, sanded, and primed them. Be prepared with enough paint to apply two to three even coats of paint as needed. If you’re planning to paint a design on the floor, you’ll still need to create a solid painted surface to coat and seal the existing tiles and grout. After the coat is dry, you can stencil your pattern directly on top of the layer. 

What Paints Should I Use for Tile Flooring?

You can use latex paint, enamel paint, or acrylic latex paint on ceramic tile with good results as long as you apply a high-quality high-adhesion primer to the surface. 

Epoxy paint is another good choice because it’s resistant to cleaning solutions and abrasion. 

If you’re skipping the primer altogether or want a shabby chic look, purchase chalk paint for this project. 

Another great choice is oil-based paints because they typically last longer than latex paint. However, oil-based paints are more challenging to find and take much longer to dry, so the project will take longer if you choose this type of paint. 

How to Paint Floor Tiles

Be prepared to apply several coats of paint for full coverage, especially if your tiles are a darker paint color. If possible, wait three to seven days before applying the second coat of paint to allow the product plenty of time to cure. 

For application, we recommend using a paint roller rather than a paintbrush for a more even paint job. You can also section off the tile with painter’s tape to create crisp lines or unique patterns.

After painting the tiles, seal the tiles with water and grime-resistant sealant. The paint sealant will bond with the coat of paint, forming a hard, gloss-like shell on top of the paint. This shell reduces ongoing wear and tear, prolonging the life of your tiles and their looks. 

Caring for Painted Floor Tiles

pristine and clean kitchen tile floor
Image Source: Canva

Painting your floor tiles is ultimately a short-term fix to update a room instead of replacing the old tile entirely. However, several factors can increase the need for touch-ups. 

Heavy foot traffic can quickly chip away at your hard work by wearing down the top coat. Shower tiles and tiles on bathroom floors are also more susceptible to moisture damage.  

Here are a few tips to help you preserve the paint color and appearance of your tiles: 

  • Don’t wear shoes indoors. Shoes can scuff the floor tile paint, especially in high-traffic areas. Instead, wear house slippers or socks to reduce the risk of scruffs. 
  • Improve ventilation in high-moisture areas of the house to prevent bubbling. If you paint your bathroom tiles, always use the fan when you shower or bathe to lower the moisture levels. You can also reduce moisture in the room by cracking open a window or the door if possible. Alternatively, you can use a dehumidifier to keep the space drier. 
  • Clean your floors regularly. Removing debris from the floor helps retain the floor’s sheen and design. Vacuuming, sweeping, and mopping will help preserve your tile’s appearance. Avoid scouring pads, steel wool, or chemical cleaners that may discolor the paint. A baking soda and warm water paste is a great homemade cleaner to keep your grout clean. 
  • Place floor mats in high-traffic areas. The floor mats will protect your tile floor from everyday wear and tear. 

Closing Thoughts

Painting your tiles is an inexpensive way to upgrade the look of your home. However, the paint won’t last long if you don’t take care of the tiles after they’ve been painted or take the proper steps to clean and prime the floor first. Pay close attention to this tutorial for the best results, and enjoy the look of your new tiles. 

Once you’ve got the hang of painting ceramic floor tiles, consider the many other possibilities. Wall tiles, countertop tiles, and kitchen tiles can all be painted with fantastic results. 

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