Q: The tiles in my bathroom are absolutely hideous. I do not have the money for a big remodeling job and was hoping I could do something myself. Can I paint bathroom tiles, or is this a losing endeavor? I definitely don’t want an ugly, peeling finish. Should I just accept the way things look now, or can this be done?
A: You can paint bathroom tiles; however, you must pay special attention to preparation, or the finish will peel. Tile is too slick and nonporous to accept adhesion, whether its porcelain, ceramic or vinyl. To combat this, scour the tile with 180-grit sandpaper.
Once the surface feels slightly rough to your bare skin, it will be better suited for a painted finish; however, you must add a base primer first. If you’re painting wall tiles, you can use a latex primer. If the tiling is located on the floor or within the shower, you must use an acrylic primer.
Once the bathroom tile is primed, you can paint it. A satin or semi-gloss latex paint is fine for wall tile, but it won’t hold up on the floor or inside the shower. I recommend painting floor tiles with a durable acrylic floor paint. For shower tiles, an appliance epoxy paint is ideal.
One additional note: before doing anything else, wash the tile with a heavy-duty, trisodium phosphate cleaner, or you’ll have problems getting the primer to stick.
Jim Dugan has over 20-years of experience as a professional contractor.