How to Paint Over Ceramic Tile in a Bathroom

By: Danny Lipford

Painting over tile with a roller.

Can I paint over the ceramic tile in my bathroom? And if so, how do I go about it? -Marilyn

You can paint over ceramic tile walls in a bathroom, but you will lose some of the interesting characteristics of tile since the grout lines will be the same color as the tile. Also, you will have better luck if you avoid painting tile which receives a lot of water or wear, such as:

  • Tile floor
  • Tile tub or shower surround
  • Tile vanity countertop

There are two important components to painting ceramic tile—preparing the surface properly and using the right type of paint. Here’s how to go about painting tile.

Preparation

As with most painting jobs, preparation is the key to success. To prepare tile for painting:

  • Clean Tile: Clean the tile to remove any dirt, mildew, or soap scum using an abrasive bathroom cleaner. After cleaning, wipe the surface down with a clean, wet sponge to remove any residue, then allow the surface to dry thoroughly.
  • Sand Tile: Lightly sand the tile with fine (180-220 grit) synthetic grit sandpaper, such as silicon carbide or aluminum oxide, to take the gloss off the glazed surface. An orbital sander will do a faster and better job than hand sanding.
  • Remove Dust: Wipe down the surface with a damp cloth to remove any dust and allow to dry before painting.

Painting

There are two painting options for tile:

  1. Latex Paint: Apply one to two coats of a bonding primer that’s made to adhere to surfaces such as tile. Allow the primer to dry for the recommended time, then follow with two topcoats of acrylic latex wall paint.
  2. Epoxy Paint: Apply two coats of a two-part epoxy paint that’s made for tile and other hard to paint surfaces, such as Rust-Oleum Tub & Tile. Follow the directions carefully, and allow the recommended drying time before using. The colors available for epoxy paint may be limited.

Good luck with your project,

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