Introduction: Tile Paint

by Drew Henry

What is Tile Paint?

Have you ever wondered if you can paint ceramic bathroom tiles? Well, you might be surprised to learn that you can! Many people haven’t heard of tile paint before, but it is a favorite among DIYers and creatives who want to restore grungy tiles or add a bit of personal flair to their spaces. 

Tile paint is a special coating designed to adhere to and revitalize ceramic or porcelain tiles. Many varieties are available, depending on your project. The beauty of tile paint lies in its versatility. Whether it's the grungy bathroom tile longing for a makeover or the bland kitchen backsplash yearning for a touch of color, tile paint can transform them with a few strokes of a paintbrush! 

Here at LiLi Tile, we’re known for our encaustic cement tiles (which can’t be painted). However, our designers wanted to take a look at the tile painting trend and see how these coatings can be used to update existing tiles in your home. Maybe you’ll find some inspiration for colors and designs in our tile gallery, too. Now, let’s grab a paintbrush and learn how to paint tile! 

Piu Elite Tile: 6" x 6"

The Power of Tile Paint

Tile paint holds a lot of power. It breathes new life into your home without requiring significant financial investment or major renovation work. If your floor tiles have lost their shine or look dated due to old designs and colors, don’t fret! Tile paint has you covered for a quick design refresh. 

Our tile paint guide has all the information you need to get the most out of this clever design hack. Let’s say you have some old, grimy bathroom tiles that look dull and dated. Here's where bathroom tile paint comes to the rescue. Rather than replacing these tiles (an expensive and tedious process), a simple coat of tile paint can restore their former glory. The transformative power of tile paint does not end there!

Tiffany Series 5" x 10"

Kitchen backsplashes that have lost their luster can be changed with a bit of creative thinking and some ideally suited paints, like epoxy paint for tiles or ceramic tile paint. Get creative with patterns and stencils and see your kitchen radiate with new energy. Small changes like a fresh coat of tile paint can truly transform your living spaces.

Origins and Early Uses of Tile Paint

Tile paint has a history as colorful as its wide array of hues. The earliest known examples can be traced back to ancient civilizations, where clay tiles were often painted with natural pigments for decorative purposes. However, these rudimentary paints bore little resemblance to the durable products we now associate with bathroom tile paint or shower tile paint. But improvements would be made. The Medieval Era saw some advancements in ceramic tile paint applications. However, painting was usually reserved for ornamental tiles rather than functional ones like floor or wall tiles.

Fast-forward to the 19th century. Industrialization led to advancements in manufacturing processes, allowing the mass production of painted tiles. This period also witnessed an evolution in the type of paints used on tiles, from oil-based products to more resistant materials such as enamel and later epoxy, precursors to today's tub and tile paint.

Keeping Pace With Time: Evolution of Tile Paint Over the Years

Tile paints have come a long way since they first came about. One of the biggest changes to the product occurred during the mid-20th century when the DIY craze kicked off, and homeowners began tackling home improvement projects themselves. 

Cherie Cement Tile

The do-it-yourself trend led manufacturers to develop products catering to DIY enthusiasts who wondered if they could paint their floor or bathroom tiles. The rise in popularity prompted manufacturers to further improve their offerings with introductions such as epoxy-based paints (renowned for their durability and water resistance), making them perfect epoxy paint for tile applications within bathrooms or kitchens where they might face frequent exposure to moisture. Today's tile paint, including specialized floor tile paint and tile paint for showers, is a product of years of innovation and improvement.

Not only do these paints offer homeowners an affordable way to update their spaces, but they also provide significant benefits in terms of durability and maintenance. Furthermore, they've resolved the age-old question: Can you paint ceramic tile? Yes, you can! And with the right kind of paint and preparation, the results are simply stunning.

New Algae 4" x 4" Cement Tile

Types of Tile Paint: Not All Created Equal

A Kaleidoscope of Choices: Epoxy-Based Paints

One type of tile paint stands out for its durability and strength: epoxy-based paints. These paints are perfect for areas that experience heavy traffic or exposure to water, such as bathroom tile paint or tile floor paint.

Epoxy-based paints create a hard, waterproof surface, making them an ideal choice. They are also highly resistant to staining and can easily be cleaned, maintaining their sheen for years. However, these paints require careful preparation and application due to their composition. From bathrooms to kitchens, epoxy-based paints are popular because they enable homeowners to revamp their spaces without engaging in costly fixture replacement.

The Versatility King: Latex or Oil-Based Paints

If you need a more versatile option, look no further than latex or oil-based tile paints. While they’re not quite as durable and water-resistant as epoxy paints, latex or oil-based variants offer considerable flexibility in terms of color choices. So, they’re great for more custom or decorative projects like a tile backsplash. Can you paint a tile backsplash with latex? Absolutely! You have an arsenal of colors at your disposal.

These types of paint are also easier to remove compared to epoxy-based ones. So, if you're unsure about your chosen color or pattern, remember that latex or oil-based paints offer a level of forgiveness.

Special Problems Require Special Solutions: Specialty Tile Paints

Let's not forget the specialty tile paints, specifically made for those unique problems or design concerns. For instance, some specialty paints resist mold and mildew, perfect for damp areas such as bathrooms. Heat-resistant specialty paints are available for fireplace surrounds or backsplashes above the kitchen stove. Their unique formulation provides extra protection against heat damage and discoloration.

Then, there are specialty tile paints designed for more artistic endeavors, like livening up your fireplace design. They offer additional options, such as textured finishes and a wide palette of colors for those who want to unleash their creativity beyond a conventional paint job.

The Great Tile Paint Dilemma: Making the Right Choice

Understanding your specific needs will help you answer questions like "Can I use this ceramic tile paint for my shower?" or "Is this the right bathroom tile paint?" No matter your project, there is a perfect solution waiting out there! But sometimes, the power of choice can feel like too much power, especially when so many options exist. Here are the main considerations to keep in mind. 

First, consider endurance. If you plan to paint bathroom tile or any other high-traffic area, like a floor, look for highly durable paints that are resistant to peeling or chipping.

Secondly, consider ease of application. Some paints require multiple coats, while others are one-and-done projects. If your project involves shower tile paint in particular, ensure that the brand you select offers good coverage even in damp conditions.

Finding Your Perfect Match: Best Brands on The Market

DIYers know best. Let’s look at some of the favorite tile paint brands that homeowners love. A popular choice among DIY enthusiasts is Rust-Oleum's Tub and Tile Refinishing Kit. This two-part epoxy acrylic offers excellent endurance and is perfect for areas exposed to water daily, making it a great bathroom tile paint or shower tile paint option. One noteworthy feature is its ability to cover minor scuffs on your tiles. 

Rachel Metz from Living to DIY

Another top contender in the world of ceramic tile paint is KILZ Interior/Exterior Enamel Porch & Patio Latex Floor Paint. This durable, weather-resistant paint can withstand the rigors of high-traffic areas. It's perfect for painting everything from bathroom tiles to kitchen backsplashes.

For those who need color options, INSL-X Tough Shield Floor and Patio Paint is a heavy-duty floor tile paint that delivers resilience. It comes in various colors, allowing you to customize according to your stylistic preference.

Cleaning Tiles Before Painting: The First Step to a Magnificent Makeover

Why Cleaning Matters

When considering whether you can paint floor or bathroom tiles, the first question isn't about the type of paint you should buy. It's about the cleanliness of your tiles. That’s right! Your quest for a beautiful, painted tile surface begins with a thorough tile cleaning. Why? Any grit and grime on your tiles will inhibit the paint from adhering correctly, leading to an uneven finish that may peel over time.

Before you even open that can of best paint for ceramic tile floors or tub and tile paint, give your tiles a proper scrubbing. Any standard household cleaner will do. Just make sure it's something capable of cutting through soap scum if you're looking at shower tile paint projects.

What About Those Tough Stains?

While tile paint will cover up most minor stains and discoloration, darker stains could affect the final look of the finished product. For moderate stains, baking soda mixed with water into a paste often does the trick without damaging your tiles. For more stubborn stains, consider using hydrogen peroxide or chlorine bleach.

Remember to rinse well after applying these stronger solutions because they can sometimes affect how the subsequent layers of primer and paint adhere to the surface. Remember, a clean surface is key to success when painting over tiles.

The Art of Sanding Tiles: Because Smooth Isn't Always Best

Sanding Tiles Before Painting: Why Bother?

Do you need to sand your tiles before painting them? It might seem counterintuitive at first. After all, aren't we always striving for smooth surfaces? But here's why sanding is crucial in painting projects like these.

A slightly rough surface helps the new paint cling to the tile surface. The tiles you're about to transform using your chosen ceramic tile paint aren't naturally adhesive. They're made to be slick and resistant, which is why sanding becomes necessary. By creating a slightly rough texture on the surface of the tiles, you give the primer and layers of paint something to grip onto.

Rita Series 8" x 8"

Achieving Sanding Success

For those wondering how to paint bathroom tile or any other tiled surface, achieving sanding success is significant. But don't lose sleep over it. It's a straightforward process.

First, use medium-grit sandpaper. Around 150 to 180 grit will do. Then, lightly scuff the entire surface of your tiles. Once you've done this, wipe down your newly sanded surfaces with a damp rag or sponge to remove any dust produced during sanding.

After all this prep work, you are finally ready for what comes next — painting tile with confidence! So whether you're considering floor tile paint projects or embarking on an adventure with shower tile paint, remember that good preparation is half the battle!

The Art of Applying Tile Paint: A Step-by-Step Guide

Tools of the Trade: What You'll Need to Paint Tiles

Before you start painting, you need to gather all the necessary tools. You'll need a high-quality primer, your chosen tile paint, and a clear sealant for after the paint job. Going in with the right tools will make your life much easier.

For instance, a good set of brushes is indispensable; a smaller one allows for precision in tight corners and edges, while a larger one covers big areas faster. An angled brush can be handy when looking to paint tile backsplash.

In addition, using rollers helps achieve an even finish on large surfaces such as floors. Some other handy tools include sandpaper for prepping the tiles and painter's tape for protecting any areas you don't wish to paint.

Priming Your Way: The Proper Way to Apply Primers

Once armed with your tools, it's time to prime! Priming ensures your ceramic tile paint sticks properly. Start by stirring the primer well before use. This is an important step to any paint job, whether you're wondering how to paint backsplash tile or planning on tackling tub and shower wall tiles.

Madrid Cement Tile

Ensure the primer is spread evenly across all tiles. This will create an ideal surface for your chosen color, whether it’s classic white (perfect if you'd like to end up with subway-tile style painted backsplashes), bold black (for a dramatic industrial look), or something more adventurous (like a custom stencil design)!

Remember that patience pays off. Let the primer dry completely before applying your tile paint. Hastily done work often leads to flaking and peeling. You don’t want to have to do this over! 

Applying Tile Paint: Techniques for a Flawless Finish

Now it’s time for the good part—painting! When you’re ready to apply your tile paint, remember this key rule: less is more. Start with thin coats rather than one thick one. This helps avoid unwanted texture and brush strokes. Aim for long, even strokes, whether you’re using a roller or brush. Rollers are beneficial for painting floor tile, as they can cover large areas quickly and evenly. This rule applies to all sorts of projects, from painting bathroom tile floors to creating striking painted ceramic tile wall features.

Apply another thin coat once the first coat dries (always read the manufacturer's instructions on drying times). Repeat until satisfied with the coverage and opacity. You might be eager to see your transformation come alive, but rushing things may ruin an otherwise excellent job. So take it slow! 

Once the last layer of your chosen color dries completely (whether it's a soft pink bathroom tile paint or a striking blue kitchen backsplash), seal it properly with a clear sealant designed specifically for painted tiles. And there you have it! Now, you are fully equipped to transform your space with tile paint. 

Unleashing Your Inner Picasso: Patterns and Colors

Who said you have to settle for a simple white tile paint? Here at LiLi Tile, we’re big fans of bright colors and bold patterns. Which you might be able to see in our cement tile collections. Take some inspiration from us and view your painted ceramic tile project as a canvas for unlimited creativity. 

Tiffany Series: 5” x 10”

One of the easiest ways to add visual interest to your painted tiles is by using two colors. You can alternate them in a checkerboard pattern, create stripes or waves for a more dynamic look, or even design more intricate geometric shapes. Experiment with contrasting dark and light colors for a bold design like our Tiffany tile. Or take a subtler approach using a palette of neutrals like we do in our Twinkle tile. With tile paint options expanding every day, your palette is virtually infinite.

We are often asked if you can mix bold patterns. To that, we say yes! In fact, small bathrooms are perfect places where bold patterns created with tub and tile paint can make the room appear larger. Try vertical stripes on the walls or play around with fun motifs on the floor.

Twinkle Series: 8” x 8”

Creating Texture: The Magic of Brushes and Sponges

Can you really achieve texture with epoxy paint for tile? Yes! Creating texture on your tiles is another way to add depth and character to your room. It's all about choosing the right tools and techniques. The simplest way to add texture when painting over bathroom tiles or painting a tile floor is by using specific brushes designed for this purpose. These specialty brushes leave visible strokes, creating an artisanal hand-painted finish. 

You can also use a sponge to achieve interesting texture on a painted kitchen backsplash or tile shower wall. After applying your base coat with a brush, lightly dab the sponge on the tile's surface. This can create an attractive, weathered look that pairs well with farmhouse or coastal design styles. Remember to do some practice runs on spare tiles or paper before directly going onto your floor or walls. 

Bacardi Green 4" x 4" Glaze Tile

A Word on Choosing Your Paint

Before you jump in and start painting your tiles, make sure to choose the right paint for your ceramic tile painting project. 

Epoxy paints are an excellent choice for high-traffic areas like floors or shower areas due to their durability and waterproof nature.

Latex paints work perfectly for wall tiles in lower-traffic areas, like backsplashes or wall decoration pieces, and offer a wider range of colors. 

Always apply at least one layer of primer to ensure proper adhesion, no matter which type of paint you choose for ceramic tile.

Seal the Deal: Protecting Your Painted Tiles

You might think you’re done with your painted tile project when you put down the paintbrush. But there is one more important step left! 

To ensure your labor of love lasts as long as possible, you should seal your painted tiles. The process not only protects your tiles from wear and tear but also enhances the color and finish of your newly painted floor tile. Sealing painted tile isn't just recommended. It's a crucial final step to make sure all that hard work doesn't go down the drain.

Remember to check whether or not the specific type of tile paint you're using requires a separate sealer. Some products, like epoxy paint for tile, may already include a sealing agent. However, if you've used other kinds of floor tile paint, such as latex-based varieties, applying a sealant is usually an essential final step.

Care & Maintenance: Tips For Keeping Your Painted Tiles Looking Fresh

Bubbly Cement Tile x Tomma Bloom

Witnessing how strikingly different and stylish bathroom tiles look after applying some good old bathroom tile paint can be exhilarating. But how do we maintain this beauty? It just takes a few tile cleaning tips to keep them looking great for years to come! 

First, remember to be gentle when cleaning painted tiles! Whether it's floor tile or backsplash, there's no need for harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaning tools that can scratch or fade the beautiful work you've done with that marvelous ceramic tile paint.

Soak a soft cloth or sponge in warm water mixed with mild dish soap for regular cleaning—pretty much how you'd treat any regular tiled surface. If possible, avoid using bleach or ammonia-based cleaners, which can discolor your tile paint. If you've used paint for tile in the shower, ensure you squeegee the water off after each use to extend the lifespan of your paint job. 

If any chips or cracks appear over time (which may occasionally happen even with the sturdiest paint floor tile jobs), don't panic! You can always touch up these spots as required. Just clean the area, lightly sand it down, and apply a fresh coat of your trusty bathroom tile paint. Seal it once more, and voila! Your tiles are back to looking their best!

Conclusion: Dipping Your Brush into the Spectrum of Possibilities

The Wizardry of Tile Paint

Breathing new life into your bathroom tile or kitchen backsplash using tile paint might seem like a modern-day alchemy, but it's a trick as old as time. This wondrous concoction has been a secret weapon of many homeowners and interior designers for years, turning drab and outdated tiles into stunning works of art.

Painting your tile is a great option for homeowners looking for a quick refresh on a budget. However, it’s always an option to replace your tiles with a new product that gets you everything you want. Here at LiLi, we offer a wide selection of cement, ceramic, terrazzo, and terracotta tiles. Unlike painted tiles, the colors of our cement tiles run through the entire tile. So you don’t have to worry about fading or scratching. You can simply buff them to look as good as new! 

So, when you’re ready to replace your tiles or just need some inspiration for your tile painting project, feel free to look at our entire collection of tiles. 

Shop LiLi Tiles


Painting Tiles: More Than Just Strokes on Ceramic

There's an artist in all of us waiting to unleash their creativity. So why not take that leap?

Need more ideas? Consider using different colors to create abstract patterns on your kitchen backsplash, using sponges to create a faux-marble effect on your bathroom walls, or going for the classic subway tile look in your mudroom. With the right tile paint, you can do all this and more. 

We've covered all the necessary steps: cleaning, sanding, priming, and painting. But it is just as important to practice patience, unleash your creativity, and be willing to learn.

Nora Tile: 6” x 6”

The Journey of a Thousand Tiles Begins with One Stroke

The possibilities are indeed endless when it comes to tile paint. Whether you're aiming for a quick update of your bathroom tiles or an extensive makeover of your kitchen floors, it's time to explore this exciting avenue.

Remember: The journey may be initially challenging, but the end result will be worth every drop of sweat and paint! After all, home improvement isn't just about increasing property value; it's also about creating spaces that reflect who we are.

So why not grab that can of tile paint and brush today? Your creative adventure awaits!

Appendix: Frequently Asked Questions

The ABCs of Painting Bathroom Tile

One of the most frequent questions we get is, "How to paint bathroom tile?" It's a great question because the bathroom is one area where tile paint can work wonders. With the right prep and careful selection of paint specifically designed for tiles, you can save on remodeling costs and avoid having to rip out old tiles. We recommend using epoxy paint for tile in the bathroom due to its durability and waterproof nature. 

Fiori Series | Hexagon Cement Tile

Another common query is, "Can you paint a tile backsplash?" Yes, it's entirely feasible! With some elbow grease and attention to detail, a fresh coat of suitable tile paint can totally revamp your kitchen. However, remember that areas around cooktops can be subject to high heat and grease splashes, so an easily cleanable finish or heat-resistant product would be beneficial. 

We also receive many inquiries about how to get paint off of tile. If you've accidentally splattered some wall or trim paint on your glossy tiles, don't panic. A razor blade gently used at an angle will usually scrape off unwanted spots without scratching the surface beneath.

The Artistry in Painting Floor Tile

We also get asked how to paint floor tiles. The process isn't much different than painting wall tiles. However, picking durable floor-specific paints like epoxy-based options will ensure longevity under heavy foot traffic. Consider choosing darker shades or patterns that won't show dirt easily when deciding how to paint a tile floor.

What about ceramic? Can you paint ceramic tile floors? The answer is a resolute yes! Ceramic tile floors are perfect candidates for painting thanks to their smooth surface, which holds onto paints well. The best choice here is ceramic tile paint, formulated to adhere better to such surfaces. Choosing the best paint for ceramic tile floors will depend on your color preference, sheen level, and durability requirements. Whether you're aiming to paint floor or wall tiles, the process for painting ceramics involves cleaning thoroughly, sanding lightly if necessary to create an adherable surface, applying a good-quality primer, and then using a roller or brush to apply your chosen tile paint.

Enchanted Cement Tile x Adam Trest

The Magic of Paint Transformations

So, what's the best type of paint for tiles? It depends on where the tiles are located and what kind of use they get. Epoxy-based paints are usually best for their durability and water resistance for shower areas or high-traffic floors. For areas with lesser wear, like backsplashes or decorative wall tiles, latex or oil-based paints may suffice.

Is there any particular brand recommended for painting tiles? There's no one-size-fits-all answer here, as it really depends on your specific needs and budget. However, brands like Sherwin Williams, Rust-Oleum & Valspar have solid reputations in producing high-quality paints that work well on tiles.

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