How to Reglaze Tile

Reglazing tile can breathe new life into old, worn-out tile surfaces in your home. Whether your outdated tile has visible scratches, cracks, chips, or just looks dingy and faded, reglazing provides an affordable way to make it look brand new again. With some time and effort, you can reglaze tile yourself and transform the look of your kitchen, bathroom, or any other tiled surface.

What is Reglazing Tile?

Tile reglazing, also known as tile resurfacing, is a process of applying a new surface coating over existing tiles. Special reglazing products, typically liquid or gel compounds, are brushed or rolled onto the tile and then cured to create a refreshed surface.

Reglazing does not involve replacing the actual tiles. It simply revitalizes the appearance by adding a protective barrier that adheres to the top of the tile. This thin coating evens out flaws and discoloration to give a like-new finish.

Benefits of Reglazing Tile:

  • Cost-effective compared to full tile replacement
  • Much less messy and labor-intensive than removing and installing new tile
  • Wide range of color options to match your decor
  • Long-lasting results; can extend the life of tile by years
  • No demolition or construction dust to deal with
  • Can be done as a DIY project by homeowners

Gather Your Materials

Reglazing tile requires just a few materials to transform your surfaces:

  • Tile reglazing compound – The main product that provides the new coating. Comes in liquid or gel form.
  • Scrub brushes – For thorough cleaning of tile surfaces before reglazing.
  • Paintbrushes and rollers – Apply the reglazing compound smoothly and evenly.
  • Sandpaper – Useful for scuffing extremely glossy tile before reglazing.
  • Paint tray – Holds the reglazing compound as you work.
  • Tape and plastic sheeting – Protect surfaces not being reglazed.
  • Cleaning solutions – Remove oils, waxes, grime so new coat adheres properly.

Safety gear like gloves, eye protection, and dust masks are also recommended when reglazing.

Purchase a tile reglazing kit or the reglazing product by itself from a hardware store or home improvement center. Kits contain all the essential supplies you’ll need for the project.

Prep the Tile Surface

Preparing the tile properly before reglazing is crucial for getting an even, long-lasting finish. Follow these steps:

Clean Thoroughly

Tiles must be completely free of dirt, grease, soap residue, and any other contaminants that could cause adhesion problems. Wash the tiles with a heavy-duty cleaner or degreaser and scrub vigorously with a brush. Rinse well and let dry fully.

For very dirty grout, use a grout brush or toothbrush to scrub it clean. You do not have to reglaze grout lines.

Repair Cracks and Missing Pieces

Inspect the tiles closely and use premixed grout or epoxy filler to patch any cracked, chipped, or missing areas. Allow filler to dry fully.

Scuff Glossy Surfaces

If tiles have an ultra-shiny glazed surface, scuff them up lightly with fine sandpaper so the reglazing product can bind properly. Avoid scrubbing all the way down to bare porcelain.

Mask Surfaces and Apply Adhesive Promoter

Protect any nearby surfaces you don’t want coated, like walls, cabinets, or trim, by masking them off with painter’s tape and plastic. Apply an adhesive promoter to the tile if recommended on your reglazing product.

Apply the Reglazing Compound

With the tile prepped, it’s time to apply the reglazing material. Work in small sections for best results:

Pour Product into Paint Tray

The compound should have the consistency of paint when applied. Pour enough for one section into a paint tray to start.

Use a Paintbrush or Roller

Dip your brush into the tray and apply a thin, even coat using long, slightly overlapping strokes. Apply in all directions to prevent brush marks. Or use a small paint roller to roll on the product smoothly.

Let Section Dry; Apply Second Coat

The first coat may look streaky or uneven at first. That’s okay. Allow it to dry fully, then apply a second coat to build an even, opaque finish. The second coat will make imperfections disappear.

Repeat for Whole Surface

Move on to the next section, pouring more compound as needed, and repeat the process until you’ve reglazed the entire tile surface.

Remove Tape; Smooth Edges

Once fully dry, carefully remove any masking tape and plastic. Use fine sandpaper to gently smooth any uneven edges around the perimeter.

Cure and Seal the Finish

Allow the new reglazed surface to cure fully, which can take 24-48 hours. Avoid cleaning or heavy use during this time. Some products may require applying a sealant once cured – check your product directions.

Once the surface has completely cured and hardened, your freshly reglazed tiles are ready to enjoy! Proper prep and application results in tiles that look professionally redone.

Tips for Achieving Great Results

Follow these tips and tricks for getting a flawless, lasting finish with your tile reglazing project:

  • Only apply in ideal conditions – temperature of 50-90°F and low humidity.
  • Work in small sections of about 4 square feet at a time.
  • Maintain a wet edge as you apply to prevent lap marks.
  • Apply in thin coats, building up to the recommended mil thickness.
  • Let each coat dry fully before adding another; drying takes 1-3 hours.
  • Stay off reglazed surfaces for the entire curing time.
  • Cut in neatly around edges with a small trim brush.
  • Rinse brushes in water periodically while working.
  • Rollers apply the smoothest finish with no brush strokes.
  • Stick to the recoat window times specified on the product.
  • Sand gently by hand to avoid damaging the new coating.
  • If adding a sealant topcoat, apply thinly and evenly.

Reglazing vs Replacing Tile

Is it better to reglaze or completely replace old tile? Here’s a look at the pros and cons:

Reglazing Pros:

  • Much less expensive – hundreds vs thousands
  • Faster project taking days, not weeks
  • No demolition or construction dust
  • Grout lines stay intact
  • Fewer materials to purchase
  • No new tile cutting or installation work
  • Retains existing tile layout

Reglazing Cons:

  • Results depend heavily on application quality
  • Can show brush marks if not applied well
  • Limited color/finish options compared to new tile
  • Lower durability than new tile (5-10 years vs decades)
  • Not effective on badly cracked or damaged tiles

Replacing Tile Pros:

  • Remove any problematic underlying issues
  • Fresh start with brand new tile
  • Latest styles, colors, patterns available
  • Can alter tile layout and design
  • Long-lasting results (decades)
  • Custom options like natural stone, mosaics

Replacing Tile Cons:

  • Much higher cost for materials and labor
  • Long installation timeframe
  • Dusty demolition and construction mess
  • Noisy jackhammering to remove old tile
  • Disposal of old tile creates landfill waste
  • Living without functional kitchen or bath during reno

FAQs About Reglazing Tile

Do I need to hire a professional or can I reglaze tile myself?

Reglazing tile is a DIY-friendly project. If you’re comfortable with basic home improvement tasks, have time for thorough prep, and patience to apply carefully, you can absolutely reglaze your own tile successfully. No specialized skills are required.

How long does a reglazed tile surface last?

With proper prep and application, a reglazed finish can last 5-10 years or more. Avoid abrasive cleaners and rough treatment to maximize longevity. Re-reglazing when needed extends the life further.

Is the process messy?

Reglazing tile is neater than demolishing and replacing tile. But some aspects like scrubbing grout lines and sanding high-gloss tile do create dust. Masking off surfaces and working in sections helps keep mess contained.

Can I reglaze just part of my tile, like the kitchen backsplash?

Yes, with careful masking you can selectively reglaze only portions of your tile if desired. This works well for smaller accent areas. Apply coats right up to the masking tape edge.

What surfaces can’t be reglazed?

Reglazing won’t work on cracked or heavily damaged tile, natural stone, peeling/flaking tile, or outdoor tile and grout. Very textured tile is also problematic. In these cases, replacement is better.

Transform Your Tiled Surfaces

If your kitchen backsplash, bathroom walls, or other tiled areas are looking outdated and worn, don’t overlook tile reglazing. Taking the time to properly prepare the surface and meticulously apply fresh reglazing compound can shave thousands off a full tile replacement project.

With some patience and technique, you can breathe years of new life into existing tile for a fraction of the cost and effort of a full remodel. Revel in your revitalized tiles that once again look like they did years ago, or better!