How to Paint Ceramic Tile

Painting ceramic tile can transform the look of a kitchen, bathroom, or any tiled surface in your home. With the right preparations and techniques, you can achieve an updated, custom look without the hassle and expense of replacing your existing tile. This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know to successfully paint ceramic tile.

Materials Needed to Paint Ceramic Tile

Painting ceramic tile requires just a few key supplies. Be sure you have the following materials on hand before starting your project:

  • Tile paint: Choose a high-quality, ceramic tile-specific paint such as a latex or epoxy tile paint. Avoid standard wall paints as they do not adhere as well to smooth tile.
  • Paintbrushes: Angled sash paintbrushes work best for cutting in around tile edges. wider brushes will speed up painting large tile areas.
  • Paint roller: A high-density foam roller will help you quickly apply tile paint to large areas.
  • Paint tray: Standard metal or plastic paint trays hold your paint supply while painting.
  • Drop cloth: Protect floors and countertops from drips and spills with a canvas drop cloth.
  • Painter’s tape: Delicate surfaces like walls and cabinets should be taped off before painting.
  • Sandpaper: Lightly scuff glossy tile with fine 220-grit sandpaper so the paint can adhere.
  • TSP substitute: Pre-treat greasy tile areas with a TSP substitute to help the paint bond.
  • Rags and cleaning supplies: Have rags and cleaners ready to quickly wipe up any messes.

Tip: Buy more tile paint than you think you’ll need in case you have to apply extra coats to achieve full coverage.

How to Prepare Ceramic Tile for Painting

Preparing your tile surface is one of the most important steps to ensure the paint will adhere properly. Follow these key tips for prep before painting ceramic tile:

Clean the Tile Thoroughly

  • Remove all dirt, grime, soap residue, and grease from your tile using the appropriate cleaners for the surface.
  • For wall tile, an all-purpose cleaner or Tilex works well to remove grime and soap scum. Rinse thoroughly.
  • Use a degreaser to clean oily residue from kitchen tile and backsplashes.
  • Sweep, mop, or vacuum floors to remove dust and debris before painting.

Remove Existing Paint or Sealants

  • Use a strong stripper to remove any existing paint or sealants from tile surfaces.
  • Scour off old caulk and re-caulk around tubs, showers, and countertops if needed.
  • Remove paint splatters or overspray on walls surrounding the tile.

Sand Glossy Tile

  • Lightly scuff smooth, shiny tile with 220-grit sandpaper to help the new paint adhere properly.
  • Focus on sanding the glazed tile surface, not the grout. Be careful not to scratch the tile.
  • Wipe sanded tile with a clean, dry cloth after sanding to remove dust.

Use TSP Substitute on Greasy Areas

  • Degrease any tile areas in the kitchen prone to grease buildup using a TSP substitute cleaning product.
  • Allow the degreaser to sit for 5-10 minutes before rinsing thoroughly.
  • This helps remove oils so the new paint bonds tightly.

Fix Any Grout Issues

  • Re-grout cracked or missing grout between tiles before painting. New grout must cure fully before painting.
  • Use painter’s tape to mask off grout lines if you don’t want to paint the grout.
  • Choose a grout color that coordinates with your new tile paint color.

Tape Off Surfaces and Apply Drop Cloths

  • Use painter’s tape to mask off walls, cabinets, and other surfaces where you don’t want paint to get on.
  • Tape off outlets, light fixtures, and switch plates.
  • Cover floors and countertops with canvas drop cloths to protect from paint spills and drips.

Once your tile surface is fully prepped, you’re ready to start painting for a completely transformed look!

How to Paint Ceramic Wall Tile

Follow these steps to achieve flawless results painting ceramic wall tile:

1. Plan Your Painting Approach

  • Decide if you want to paint the tile only or tile and grout. Choose paint colors accordingly.
  • Start painting in a less visible corner or area to get the hang of techniques before moving to more visible tile.
  • Work from the top down when painting walls to avoid drips. Paint the ceiling first around wall tile if needed.

2. Apply the First Coat

  • Use an angled sash brush to cut in around the tile edges where it meets walls, the tub, cabinets, etc.
  • Roll on the first coat using a dense foam roller in 3×3-foot sections. Apply the paint liberally and evenly.
  • Work the paint into the texture of the tile surface and grout lines with the roller.
  • Paint the entire tile surface first, then go back to cut in edges and corners with the brush.

3. Let the First Coat Dry

  • Allow the first coat to dry completely before applying the next coat. This usually takes 2-4 hours.
  • Inspect the coverage after drying. Apply a second coat if you see any thin or uneven areas.

4. Apply the Second Coat

  • Use the same painting techniques to apply the second coat of paint, cutting in edges first.
  • Roll on the paint vertically to ensure you don’t miss any spots where the roller marks overlap.
  • Apply the second coat more lightly than the first. Focus on problem areas needing more coverage.

5. Seal Grout Lines If Needed

  • Once the final coat of tile paint has dried, apply a grout sealer if you painted the grout.
  • The sealer protects the painted grout from moisture and prevents stains.
  • Allow the sealer to dry for the time specified on the product directions before using the area.

With proper prep and application, painted ceramic wall tile can last for many years before needing touch-ups. Use painter’s tape when caulking and cleaning to protect the finish. Limit the use of harsh cleaners that could damage the paint over time.

How to Paint Ceramic Floor Tile

Transforming a outdated or worn floor starts with proper preparation and paint suitable for high-traffic areas. Follow these steps for beautiful, long-lasting results:

1. Clean and Dry the Floor

  • Sweep and mop the floor thoroughly before painting. Remove all dust and debris.
  • Allow the floor several days to dry fully before painting if it was recently cleaned.
  • Run dehumidifiers or fans to speed drying if moisture is present under tiles.

2. Sand and Degloss the Tile

  • Scuff the tile surface using a floor sander with 220-grit paper to promote paint adhesion.
  • Vacuum up all dust after sanding using a shop vac with a hose attachment. Wipe with a tack cloth.
  • Use TSP substitute to further degloss any greasy areas like in front of the oven.

3. Repair Cracked, Missing Grout

  • Re-grout any missing or cracked grout lines for an even finish after painting.
  • Make grout repairs at least 72 hours prior to painting so it fully cures.

4. Tape Off Baseboards and Trim

  • Use painter’s tape to mask off baseboards, door trim, and any other areas you don’t want painted.
  • Remove or lift appliances like refrigerators away from tile areas.

5. Apply Two Coats of Floor Tile Paint

  • Pour paint into a paint tray and load the roller. Use a dense, short-nap roller made for floors.
  • Cut in around edges first with an angled sash brush, then roll on the first coat using a criss-cross, overlapping “W” pattern.
  • Let the first coat dry fully per the paint directions before adding the second coat, usually 5-6 hours.
  • Apply the second coat lighter than the first, focusing on building coverage in uneven areas.

6. Avoid Foot Traffic for 2-3 Days

  • Floor tile paint cures more slowly than wall paint. Avoid walking on painted floors for 48-72 hours.
  • Replace appliances and remove painter’s tape after 3 days when the paint has fully hardened.

Refreshing outdated, worn floor tile is made simple with the right paint products and application techniques for a durable finish. Properly prepped and sealed painted tile floors can withstand foot traffic for many years.

Choosing Paint Sheens for Tile

Tile paint is available in a variety of finish sheens ranging from flat to high-gloss. Consider where your tile is located and your aesthetic preferences when choosing a sheen:


  • Ideal for heavily textured tile that needs to be smoothed out visually.
  • Provides a modern matte look on walls and ceilings.
  • More prone to scuffing on floors.


  • Provides subtle sheen while still hiding surface imperfections.
  • Resists scuffing and stains better than flat finishes.
  • Works well in all rooms including kitchens and bathrooms.


  • Offers a smooth, velvety appearance.
  • Enhances the color depth more than flat paints.
  • Holds up to repeated washing on walls, showers, and backsplashes.


  • Provides a sleek, bright finish.
  • Adds stylish shine in kitchens, baths, and laundry rooms.
  • Stands up well to moisture and frequent cleaning.


  • Reflective, mirror-like surface. Dramatic visual effect.
  • Very durable and moisture-resistant.
  • Best for low-traffic accents like upper backsplashes. Shows imperfections.

Sample paint swatches in different sheens on a small area of tile. Once dried, inspect how the sheen affects the tile’s appearance.

Paint Colours That Complement Tile

The right paint color choice can make dated, worn tile look fresh, modern, and completely transformed. Keep these tips in mind when selecting tile paint colors:

Match Existing Fixtures

  • Coordinate your tile paint color with existing cabinets, countertops, or flooring.
  • Tie in accent colors from appliances, hardware, or decor items.

Create Contrast

  • Go bold with a deep color on tile to contrast light cabinets or floors.
  • Try painting tile black for a dramatic accent wall effect.

Consider Undertones

  • Cool paint colors like green and blue help create a tranquil, relaxing vibe.
  • Warm earth tones with yellow, red, or orange undertones inspire comfort.

Review Color Trends

  • Refer to annual kitchen and bath paint color forecasts for on-trend ideas.
  • Classic white and off-white tile remains popular for a clean, timeless look.

Don’t be afraid to sample daring paint colors on test boards. The small tiles let you see how the color looks.

Do’s and Don’ts for Painting Tile

Follow these top tile painting tips and tricks for flawless, long-lasting results:


  • Properly prep and clean the tile first. This allows for proper paint adhesion.
  • Apply two coats of paint for full coverage and durability.
  • Use quality tile paint formulated for floors or walls.
  • Paint tile and grout the same color for a unified look.
  • Seal painted grout to protect from moisture and stains.


  • Use cheap craft paints only suitable for accessories and furniture.
  • Rush the drying times between paint coats. Allow proper curing.
  • Apply thick coats of paint that can lead to bubbling or cracking.
  • Neglect sanding and deglossing glossy tile before painting.
  • Forget to caulk around tubs, sinks, and counters after painting.

With the right prep work, materials, and technique, it is possible to achieve flawless, professional-looking results painting over ceramic tiles of all kinds.

How to Paint Shower Tile and Tile Floors in a Bathroom

Paint provides an affordable alternative to replacing worn, outdated bathroom tile. Use these guidelines when painting tile showers, tub surrounds, and bathroom floors.

Prep and Clean

  • Remove soap scum, hard water deposits, mildew, and mold from tile.
  • Recaulk around the tub and shower to protect from moisture after painting.
  • Dry out moist tile for several days before painting using fans.

Use Moisture-Resistant Paint

  • On shower walls and tub surrounds, use mold- and mildew-resistant bathroom paint.
  • For floors, select tile paint approved for damp areas and formulated to resist scuffing.

Consider Acrylic Enamel Paint

  • Shiny acrylic enamel paint is very durable and moisture-resistant.
  • It holds up well to repeated rinsing and cleaning in showers and on bathroom floors.

Increase Ventilation

  • Run bathroom fans during and after painting to help moisture evaporate.
  • Open windows whenever possible to circulate fresh air while paint dries.
  • Avoid bathing or showering for 2-3 days to allow paint to fully cure.

Apply Floor Sealant

  • Use several coats of water-based polyurethane to seal painted bathroom floors.
  • The sealed finish prevents moisture from damaging painted floors over time.

With proper prep and paint suited for damp areas, you can upgrade the look of your bathroom without the cost and mess of new tile installation. Maintain the painted finish by using mild cleaners, avoiding abrasive scrubs, and touching up paint chips over time.

How Long Does Painted Tile Last?

The durability and longevity of painted tile depends on several key factors:

Paint Quality

  • High-quality ceramic, epoxy, and urethane tile paints last longer than standard wall paint.
  • Budget paints are thinner, contain less resin, and break down faster.

Application Technique

  • Properly prepped tile coated in 2-3 thin layers of paint lasts longer than thick single coats.
  • Painting over grease, soap scum, or dirt leads to quicker paint failure.

Location and Traffic

  • Paint holds up better on wall tile than high-traffic floor areas.
  • Kitchen floors need re-coating more often than shower walls.
  • High-humidity areas cause paint to wear faster.

Cleaning and Care

  • Gently clean painted tile to avoid chipping, peeling, or abrasion.
  • Re-sealing grout and applying fresh coats during touch-ups extends paint life.

With quality paint and proper care, painted tile can maintain its beauty for 3-5 years or longer before needing renewal. Paint provides a temporary makeover option but requires more frequent touch-ups compared to new tile.

Painting FAQs

How long should I wait to use a newly painted tile surface?

Wait at least 24-48 hours before light use of painted showers, countertops, and floors. Allow 3-5 days for the paint to fully cure before heavy use or introducing moisture.

What kind of roller should I use to paint tile?

Use a dense, high-quality mini foam roller. The small roller fits well in the grooves and uneven tile surfaces. A dense nap prevents excess paint absorption into the roller.

Should I paint the tile grout?

Yes, painting grout the same color as the tile helps create a cohesive finished look. Use a grout sealer after painting grout lines to add protection from moisture and stains.

How do I paint behind a toilet?

Remove the toilet before painting for full access. Then use an angled brush to carefully paint behind and around the toilet area. Reposition the toilet after the paint has fully cured.

Can I paint over cracked or damaged tile?

Heavily cracked, chipped, or broken tile should be replaced instead of painted. Paint will adhere poorly and exacerbate existing damage. Spot replace individual damaged tiles as needed.

How do I revive old painted tile?

Lightly sand or degloss old painted tile before recoating. Remove any loose, chipped paint, clean thoroughly, and apply 1-2 fresh coats of new paint for a refreshed look.


Painting tile renews worn, outdated surfaces with dramatic visual impact for a fraction of the cost of new tile replacement. Properly prepare surfaces, use top-quality ceramic paints suited for floors or walls, and employ proper painting techniques for a polished, long-lasting finish. With a few essential supplies, patience, and these step-by-step instructions, you can transform the look of your kitchen, bathroom or any tiled space.