Can Kitchen Tile Be Painted? The Rules That Make or Break Tile Painting

Painting kitchen tile can transform the look of your space with minimal effort and cost. However, there are some important rules to follow if you want the paint job to turn out well and last. Proper prep work, picking the right paint and top coat, and maintaining the finish over time are all key factors that make or break a tile painting project. Read on for a detailed guide on how to successfully paint kitchen tile and avoid common mistakes.

Can You Paint Ceramic Tile in the Kitchen?

Yes, you can paint ceramic, porcelain, and natural stone tile in the kitchen or bathroom. With proper preparation and paint selection, tile painting can give an outdated or damaged tile surface a brand new appearance. There are a few considerations:

Tile Type – Unglazed ceramic, porcelain, and natural stone tiles take paint the best. Previously sealed or high-gloss tiles require extra prep work.

Surface Condition – Tile needs to be cleaned thoroughly and sanded to rough up the glazed surface for paint to properly adhere. Cracks, missing grout, or flaws should be repaired.

Paint Products – 100% acrylic latex paints or epoxy paints formulated for tile provide the most durable finish that resists moisture, grime, and scratches.

Top Coat – A clear acrylic sealer is highly recommended to protect the painted tile and prevent stains, moisture damage, and making the surface easier to clean.

Can You Paint Over Existing Tile?

Painting over existing tile in the kitchen or bathroom can often be done without fully replacing tile. As long as the existing tile is in good condition with no cracks, damage, or loose pieces, painting tile is an affordable facelift. Thorough cleaning and scuff sanding provides the necessary prep for paint. This prevents the need for costly tile removal and re-tiling.

What Kind of Paint Adheres to Tile Best?

100% acrylic latex paint is the best type of paint for ceramic, porcelain, and natural stone tiles. Acrylic paints provide excellent adhesion and durability. They resist moisture, stains, and scratches better than other budget paints. Epoxy paint is another top option, offering extremely durable adhesion and a glossy finish. Avoid flat latex wall paints which lack the adhesion properties needed for high-traffic and humidity-prone tile.

Features of Paint Made for Tile

  • Formulated for non-porous surfaces
  • Contains bonding primers and adhesion promoters
  • Extra resistant to moisture, stains, and wear
  • Can withstand frequent cleaning without losing bond
  • Provides either matte or glossy finish

Be sure to use paint designed specifically for tile and follow manufacturer recommendations for best results.

What Sheen Should You Use to Paint Tile?

The sheen choice depends on your design goals and the tile location:

  • Flat/Matte – This low-sheen minimizes imperfections and gives a classic look. Great for walls.
  • Satin – Subtle sheen enhances colors. Works well in bathrooms and kitchen backsplashes.
  • Semi-Gloss – Provides a smooth shiny finish for accents. Use for fewer cleaning needs.
  • Gloss – Reflective and shiny but shows more imperfections. Best for low-use tile.
  • High Gloss – Durable, stain-resistant enamel ideal for kitchen/bath. Easier to keep clean.

Tip: Higher gloss paints have the most resistance to moisture, stains, and scratches. This makes them ideal for painting tile countertops, backsplashes, and flooring.

How to Prepare Tile for Painting

Proper tile preparation is crucial for the painted finish to adhere correctly and avoid peeling or chipping later on. Follow these essential steps:

Clean Surface Thoroughly

  • Remove all grease, soap residue, wax, and grime with a degreasing cleaner or ammonia.
  • Scrub grout lines to eliminate built-up dirt and stains.
  • Rinse well and allow tile to fully dry.

Sand Tile and Rough the Surface

  • Lightly scuff sand glazed tile using 150-220 grit sandpaper.
  • Focus on sanding the glossy surface to help the paint adhere properly.
  • Remove sanding dust with tack cloth.

Repair Grout and Cracks

  • Re-grout any missing or crumbling grout lines with matching colored grout.
  • Seal existing grout once dry.
  • Fill any tile cracks or holes with caulk or patching compound and smooth.

Prime the Tile

  • Apply a bonding primer or etching solution as recommend by paint manufacturer.
  • Let the prime coat fully dry before painting.

Pro tip: Wear a face mask when sanding and cleanup dust immediately to avoid breathing in particulate.

What is the Best Paint for Kitchen Tile?

For kitchen walls, backsplashes, and countertops choose high-quality 100% acrylic latex or epoxy paint made for tile. Latex tile paints provide excellent adhesion and durability at a lower cost point for larger painting jobs. Epoxy formulations are extremely hard-wearing and resistant to everything the kitchen environment can throw at them.

Top Paint Picks for Kitchen Tile

Rust-Oleum Tile Transformations Kit – Contains everything needed to radically transform tile. Popular for its gloss finish and 10-year durability. Available at home improvement stores.

BEHR Premium Tile & Vinyl Paint – Acrylic latex paint comes in flat, satin, and semi-gloss sheens. Resists moisture and stains. Can find at hardware stores.

INSL-X Cabinet Coat Epoxy – Ultra-tough two-part epoxy perfect for heavy-use kitchen areas. Provides protective clear gloss coat. Sold at paint stores.

Tips for Successfully Painting Kitchen Tile

  • Select sheen based on tile location – higher gloss for heavy use areas.
  • Apply two coats of paint for proper coverage and durability or follow manufacturer recommendation.
  • Use painter’s tape and drop cloths to protect countertops, walls, and floors.
  • Allow proper dry time between coats and before use.
  • Finish with two coats of clear acrylic sealer on top for added protection.

Can You Use Chalk Paint on Tile?

Chalk paint, popular for furnishings and cabinets, is not the best choice for painting ceramic tile. While some tile painting products do contain chalk for grip, chalk paint alone does not adhere well to the slick non-porous surface of ceramic and porcelain. If not formulated specifically for tile, chalk paint will chip, scratch, or peel off tile easily. Stick with acrylic latex or epoxy paint for the most durable finish.

What Kind of Paint Can Be Used on Tile Floors?

Painting ceramic, porcelain, or natural stone tile floors is possible as long as the right paint is used. The finish needs to be extremely durable, high-traction, and able to withstand constant foot traffic.

Best Floor Tile Paint Options

  • Epoxy paint – Offer superior adhesion and a thick protective coat. Two-part formulations are most heavy duty.
  • Acrylic floor paint – Formulated for concrete but works on tile. Provides traction grip.
  • Rubberized driveway coating – Flexible and slip-resistant. Great for patios and outdoor use.

Painting Tile Floor Tips

  • Clean and scuff floor tile for paint prep.
  • Apply bonding primer first.
  • Add texture paint additive for grip.
  • Apply at least two coats of paint.
  • Use clear acrylic sealer for finish coat.
  • Wait 3-5 days for paint to fully cure before regular use.

Painted floors require careful maintenance. Routinely sweep and mop only with compatible cleaners to preserve the paint.

Can Shower Tile Be Painted?

Yes, shower tile can be painted to give bathrooms a new look without a full gut renovation. The key is proper prep and using 100% acrylic or epoxy paints designed for high-humidity areas.

Painted shower tile must be able to withstand:

  • Constant moisture exposure
  • Mineral deposits from water
  • Daily cleaning chemicals
  • Soap scum buildup

Preparation is extremely important for paint adhesion. Tile surfaces need to be degreased, lightly abraded, and primed first. Applying two coats of moisture-resistant paint and sealing with a waterproof clear coat provides longevity.

For walls, semi-gloss or gloss sheens are recommended for easier cleaning. Use textured paints or additives on floors for slip resistance. Maintain the finish by using gentle cleaners and avoiding abrasives.

Can You Paint Over Subway Tile?

Subway tile is a popular kitchen and bathroom wall tile known for its classic rectangular shape. While this tile can be painted, it often requires additional prep work compared to standard ceramic tile.

The grout lines in between subway tiles create deep recessed joints. For paint to properly adhere and avoid pooling in the crevices:

  • Fill grout joints halfway with caulk before painting.
  • Apply thin coats of paint, allowing drying between each.
  • Use angled paintbrush to reach into grout lines.

Also be sure to scuff sand the smooth glossy finish that subway tile is known for. With extra prep, subway tile will provide a nice even surface for painted kitchen or bathroom walls.

Can You Use Regular Latex Paint on Tile?

Standard latex wall paint does not have the right formulation to adhere to slick non-porous tile and grout indefinitely. It may seem to stick at first but will eventually peel, chip or scratch off. Avoid flat or eggshell sheens.

Stick with high bonding 100% acrylic latex paint made specifically for tile or tub surrounds. Or use super durable epoxy paint for a glossy finish. If sticking with regular latex paint, add a bonding primer first and finish with a sealer for slightly better results.

How Long Does Painted Tile Last?

When properly prepped and treated with paint formulated for tile, a painted tile surface should last 3-5 years or longer. High traffic areas may require touching up sooner. Using a compatible clear acrylic sealer helps prolong the finish.

Factors that affect paint durability on tile:

  • Surface prep – lack of cleaning, priming and sanding leads to premature peeling
  • Paint quality – acrylic and epoxy last longer than cheap latex paint
  • Foot traffic – higher use areas show wear sooner
  • Maintenance – sealing and gently cleaning preserves paint
  • Location – tile in wet areas or outdoors wears faster without proper coating

Renew painted tile when it loses adhesion, develops stains, or appears faded and worn. Spot treating problem areas can also prolong the life of the paint job.

Does Painting Tile Add Value to a Home?

Painting outdated tile can add value by improving the aesthetic appeal of kitchens and bathrooms on a budget. The quick facelift allows sellers to update spaces without costly replacements. New tile painting techniques yield professional long-lasting results vs DIY projects of the past.

Buyers may view painted tile as a sign of an underlying issue needing improvement. Properly prepped and painted tile should not raise concerns if the finish appears fresh and durable. Sellers should disclose the paint treatment to avoid any misrepresentation.

Overall, painting tile offers an affordable way to reimagine worn or dated tile and make rooms look their best for buyers. Just don’t depend on it for full value recapture.

Can You Paint Over Crackled Tile?

Crackled glazed ceramic and porcelain tile features an intentionally aged cracked pattern across the surface. Painting over crackled tile is possible but requires extra preparation to account for the deep crevices.

Here are some tips for painting crackled tile:

  • Clean thoroughly and let tile dry fully before painting.
  • Use painter’s caulk to fill in extra deep cracks and grout lines.
  • Apply thick coats of tile paint, allowing ample drying time between coats.
  • Stipple paint into cracks with a small rounded brush.
  • Finish with two coats of sealer for added protection.

Since the aged crackle effect disappears under paint, consider whether replacing the tile altogether makes the most sense.

Can You Paint Bathroom Tile Floor?

Painting a bathroom tile floor is one way to freshen up the space without replacing tile. Porcelain, ceramic, and natural stone can be painted as long as the right prep and paint are used. For high-moisture areas like bathrooms, an epoxy tile floor paint will provide the most durable and waterproof finish.

Tips for Painting Bathroom Tile Floors

  • Clean floor fully and use etching solution to prepare surface.
  • Opt for semi-gloss or gloss paint for moisture resistance and easy cleaning.
  • Add skid-resistant additive into paint for safety.
  • Apply at least two coats following manufacturer directions.
  • Finish with three coats of clear acrylic sealant.
  • Allow paint to cure fully 72 hours before light use.

Maintain the floor by sweeping frequently, mopping with compatible cleaners, and avoiding chemical abrasives which can strip the paint. Touch up worn areas as needed to keep looking new.

What is the Most Durable Paint for Tile Floors?

Epoxy paint is the most durable option for painting tile floors in high traffic areas. Epoxy formulations provide exceptional adhesion strength and resistance to wear and tear. A clear epoxy sealer finish further helps protect the painted floor.

Features to Look For:

  • 100% solids epoxy for excellent coverage
  • Can apply thick without running or sagging
  • Formulated for garage floors and concrete
  • Available in gloss or satin sheen
  • Contains abrasion resistant additives
  • Acts as adhesive and coating in one
  • Optional anti-slip additives available

Prep tile floors properly and apply two coats of epoxy paint according to manufacturer specifications for a long-lasting floor finish.

Can You Paint Over shiny Tile?

Shiny, glossy finish tile requires extra preparation before painting for the best adhesion. The slick surface causes paint to wipe or peel off easily without proper treatment. Take steps to scuff up the glossy face first.

Here is how to prepare shiny tile for painting:

  • Clean thoroughly with degreaser and rinse.
  • Lightly sand surface with 220 grit sandpaper.
  • Wipe dust away and spot degrease any slick areas revealed during sanding.
  • Apply bonding primer according to paint manufacturer’s directions.
  • Apply two coats of tile paint, allowing proper drying time between coats.
  • Seal painted tile with two coats of clear acrylic sealer.

Take care not to over-sand glazed tile which can expose the porous bisque underneath. A slight scuffing to allow the paint to grip is all that’s needed.

Can You Paint Natural Stone Tile?

Natural stone tiles like marble, travertine, slate, and granite can be painted with proper preparation. Natural stone has varying porosity and mineral content that requires extra attention when painting.

Here’s how to paint natural stone tile:

  • Clean and dry the tile fully. Check for absorbency.
  • Apply etching primer or bonding agent. This helps the paint adhere.
  • Use thin coats of paint to avoid pooling in pores.
  • Allow more drying time between coats.
  • Finish with a sealant to protect the painted surface.
  • Use gentle cleaners and avoid abrasives.

Painting natural stone will not be quite as durable as man-made glazed tiles. Touch ups or full re-coating may be needed more frequently. Test paint in an inconspicuous area first.

What Kind of Paint Can Be Used on Shower Tile?

For best results painting tile in shower surrounds, use mold and moisture resistant acrylic latex or epoxy paint formulated for bathrooms. Avoid flat sheens which allow moisture to penetrate the paint.

Recommended paint options for shower tile include:

  • Rust-Oleum Tile Transformations Kit – comes with primer and high-gloss finish.
  • BEHR Premium Wet-Look Semi-Gloss – provides a waterproof ceramic paint coating.
  • Benjamin Moore Corotech Waterborne Epoxy – extremely durable two-part epoxy.

Ensure tile is properly prepped by cleaning, scuff sanding, and applying primer first. Allow paint to fully cure one week before use. Maintain the finish by using gentle cleaners, avoiding abrasives, and limiting moisture contact.

Can You Paint Tile Without Sanding?

For the best paint adhesion and longest-lasting finish, sanding or etching glazed tile prior to painting is a must. However, with the right prep steps, it is possible to paint tile without extensive sanding:

  • Clean tile thoroughly with degreaser and rinse well
  • Use citrus-based cleaner to etch surface instead of sanding
  • Apply bonding primer or etching sealer per paint directions
  • Only apply thin coats of paint to avoid pooling
  • Let dry 24 hours between coats
  • Finish with at least two coats of clear acrylic sealer

The paint may be more prone to peeling or scratching over time without abrading the glossy tile face. Limit foot traffic and reapply sealant to touched up areas as needed.

What Kind of Brush is Best For Painting Tile?

A high-quality nylon or polyester angled brush works best for painting tile walls and countertops. The angled brush allows you to work the paint into the grout lines. Look for these features:

  • Medium stiffness bristles
  • Beveled edge bristle tips
  • 2-2.5 inch brush width
  • Angled brush head or adjustable
  • Nylon/polyester flagged bristles

Disposable foam brushes are okay for primer and topcoats or small touch ups. Avoid stiff bristle brushes which can pull on the paint finish. Change out brushes once they lose their shape.

Can You Use a Paint Sprayer to Paint Tile?

Yes, you can use a paint