How To Paint Tile

by Debra

in Kitchen, Room Ideas

How To Paint TileWow… I’ve seen some ugly kitchen backsplash tile. If you live in a 50’s Ranch House Style home… you might even be living with some of this old, ugly tile yourself.

photo credit: theogeo

Can you paint ceramic tile? Yes… I am here to say that you can learn “How To Paint Tile“! It’s actually very easy.

It is going to take some elbow grease however. Yes… open the windows, put on some great tunes, get your gloves on and get to work!

Wash That Man (Tile) Right Out Of Your Hair!

A clean surface is a must. Tile can get greasy and dirty… but it’s the grout that will be the true dirt magnet.

Trisodium Phosphate (TSP) Heavy Duty Cleaner is my cleaner of choice. Its professional strength just seems to get everything off and leave the surface sparkle clean!

The grout may take something a bit (or a lot) stronger. For this I suggest you pick up a mild acid solution just for this purpose. It’s usually available in the tile section of your local hardware store.

Rinse… rinse… rinse. Cleaners can leave a residue and the only way to get everything back to normal is to get it off with clear water.

Let it all dry – Give it 24 hours to dry. The grout is porous and you will not have good adhesion on a damp surface.


I like to use Zinsser’s latex-based Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer-Sealer. Bulls Eye 1-2-3 adheres with a death grip to ceramic tile, glass, and other “hard to stick too materials”.

The primer gives the topcoat something to grip on to. You don’t want to paint and have it be rubbed, chipped or scraped off easily.

If the area is going to get a lot of water splashes – such as the tile in the tub area, use the BIN product in an alcohol base primer for maximum durability.

Roll the primer on instead of using a brush. Use a roller that is NOT made of a spongy material. Sponges leave bubbles. If you see bubbles on the surface while you are priming – you are going to fast with the roller. Go slow and have patience.

You are done for the Day! Let the primer cure for at least 24 hours.

Day 2 – Give the primer a light scuff with some fine grit sand paper. This will give the primer some “Tooth”… the paint needs this to grip.

The Painting Of Tile

Tile should be painted with a roller. Again – don’t use a foam roller. Use a roller with “nap”.

You will need to paint on 2 coats. The key here is to let the first coat “cure” for 24 hours.

For kitchen backsplash areas – oil based paint is preferred for durability. If you are going to paint around a sink or bathtub (not the shower) then you should consider using epoxy based paint.

Cured and Fully Cured Are Different

Cured – means dry and set up.

Fully Cured – means the paint has hardened and is now washable. The Fully Cured time span is about 3 weeks.

Don’t use anything silly like harsh chemicals or stiff scrubbers to clean painted tile. If you wouldn’t use it on your car’s painted surfaces – don’t use it on your painted tile surfaces.

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