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Can you paint bathroom or shower tiles?

When it comes to redecorating your bathroom, retiling is one of the least fun tasks! Removing those old tiles takes time and can damage your drywall. And messing around with grout and tile spacers isn’t our idea of a good time.

If you feel the same way, George Ceramic specially designed this post for you in your quest for looking for a quicker way out. And you might be wondering – can you paint bathroom or shower tiles?

paint bathroom or shower tiles

What Is Shower Tile?

Shower tile is a water-resistant bathroom tile material that covers and protects the walls of a shower area. Common shower tile materials include ceramic, porcelain, and stone. Builders and homeowners prefer these materials because they are durable, cost-effective, and relatively easy to install.

The topic of whether tiles in the shower area can be painted or not has received mixed reactions. A larger percentage thought that they could be painted while a few minorities thought doing so was not ideal practice.

Read on as George Ceramic clears your doubts on the question. The post will also take a closer look at how much paint can be applied and give an improved look to shower tile.

We have an article here: Choosing the Perfect Tiles for Shower Wall: A Comprehensive Guide, I hope it can help you.

Can You Paint Tile in a Shower?

It is possible to paint bathroom tiles, but there are several variables you should consider before choosing this shower remodel strategy. Variables such as the specific type of tile and the tile’s location will influence the choices you make and determine the success of your project.

Painted tile is a simple way to update a bathroom with contemporary trends. Choose materials that hold paint well since retiling your shower floor and bathroom wall tiles can be an expensive and time-consuming process.

Considerations for Painting Tile

Location and use

The further the distance between the bathroom interior wall tiles and the shower, the longer the paint will last. Bathroom floor tiles encounter more moisture and endure more natural wear and tear (due to foot traffic) than kitchen backsplashes and countertops.

While you can paint a tile floor, you might need to touch up your floor paint more frequently than you would with other surfaces.

Type of paint

Epoxy paint, acrylic paint, and latex paint are generally appropriate options for shower tiles; however, you should research which is best suited for your specific tile material. Additionally, weigh your options in terms of both cost and quality to make a final selection.

For instance, a two-part epoxy paint might be budget-friendly, but it will not bind to stone tiles as well as an acrylic or latex paint will.If you want to know more types of ceramic tiles, you can read this article: What types of ceramic tiles are there?

Type of tile

Paint colors and finishes will vary depending on different tile surfaces. Tile location can further alter a painted tile’s appearance due to different light exposure. Test this by painting a few sample pieces of the same ceramic tile. Use a paintbrush to cover one tile with matte paint and another with a semi-gloss finish.

Place these test tiles in your shower, then observe the differences as you change the lighting conditions. Use the same two paints on stone tile samples and place them beside the ceramic tile. You might notice how differences in a variable significantly alter the appearance of the final product.

How to Paint Tile in a Shower

Paint Tile in a Shower

1. Sand the glaze. Most tiles will have some kind of glazing layer to protect the material. Sanding off this glazing takes time and patience. Carefully use fine-grit sandpaper and work slowly to not scuff the material underneath or damage the grout lines between tiles.

2. Clean all surfaces thoroughly. Vacuum and wipe off any dust or debris on the shower tile. Paint will bind more effectively to a clean, dry surface with minimal imperfections. Use a cleaner with bleach to rid the tiles of grime or mildew. If there are any damaged tiles, use a tub and tile refinishing kit to smooth any cracks or renew the surface of the old tile.

3. Prepare your work area. Cover the edges of all fixtures and appliances with painter’s tape. Open windows, place fans, or wear a ventilator to protect your lungs from harmful paint fumes. Lay newspaper or butcher paper around your paint tray station to protect nearby floors from drips.

4. Apply a water-bonded primer. This will prepare your tile surface to receive paint and will increase the durability of your paint against everyday wear and tear. Use a foam roller to save time on broad applications.

5. Paint the walls before the shower floor. Since painted tile can take multiple days to cure, it is best practice to work from the top of the shower to the bottom to avoid difficult painting situations. Begin with the walls and save the floor for the end so you can avoid having to reach across or walk over freshly painted tiles.

6. Let the paint dry. Allow for at least two days of dry time before applying sealer or stenciling any designs. An adequate cure time will extend the lifetime of your paint finish. Take this time to caulk any seams or edges where the tile meets the drywall. If your first coat does not yield your intended color or finish, apply a second coat and let it cure for another forty-eight hours.

7. Seal the tile. Finish the project with a sealant to improve its moisture resistance. If you painted the floor tile in addition to the walls, this surface might be slippery after a few coats of paint. Consider applying a nonslip formula on the floor to improve traction.

Painting vs. Retiling?

There are several reasons for repainting tile including giving an outdated bathroom a cost-efficient style update; home staging for an upcoming prospect visit; or maybe wanting to turn a bland, tiled wall into a colorful focal point. Knowing what’s most important to them—whether it’s cost and timing, the finish details, or long-term durability—is an important first step.


What Are Your Customers’ Expectations for the Project?

Advise them that painting tile is typically something homeowners opt for as an economical alternative to replacing it. This is where you can level-set expectations.

Where Are the Existing Tile Surfaces Located?

If they are in a bathroom, kitchen, or laundry room, your best bet will be painting over tile on walls and vertical surfaces that are not in high-traffic areas and do not have direct exposure to water.

Keep in mind

Painting tile is not necessarily a long-term solution. When it comes to performance, there’s no substitution for regular ceramic tile which is known for its durability and can last for years.

What about contrasting grout lines? Repainting tile means grout lines will be covered up and the individual tiles will be less defined. If the grout lines are going to be missed, repainting may not be a great option. Check out photos online of repainted tile walls to set expectations for the final look.

What are the challenges and prep work involved? Glossy tiles are among the more difficult substrates to prep for top coating. If they are cracked or chipped, they will need repair work before painting, which can add time to the job.

Not All Tile Surfaces Are Suitable for Painting

High-moisture areas—If the tile wall is in a bathroom, kitchen, or laundry room, steer clear of walls that have direct exposure to water and are in high-traffic areas. Frequent exposure to water will cause the paint to blister and peel.

Kitchen countertops—Painted tiles on kitchen counters cannot withstand exposure to hot pots or pans and be easily scratched by knives and other utensils.

Severely damaged tiles—The condition of some tiles may be too far gone to repair.

Floor tile—Constant foot traffic and friction will cause the paint to wear prematurely. We do not recommend painting over the floor tile.

If you have specific questions about your tile painting project, George Ceramics can help, from quick product tips to assessing your potential project circumstance.

In conclusion, we recommend that you choose the best primer and paint for the job 

Your project will begin with highly rated, good primer products. Carefully selected primer covers glossy surfaces and other challenging substrates with unparalleled adhesion, providing the best base for top coating. After the primed surface is completely dry, brush or roll on 2 applications of paint.

For bathrooms and high humidity environments, the source for an ideal paint that offers a matte, mildew-resistant finish that is both durable and beautiful. Such paint formulation helps to maintain color integrity over time, as the pigments are locked into the film so the color won’t fade—even after repeated washings.

And the matte finish is worlds away from the shiny bathroom paint of yesteryear. For other rooms in the home, advanced premium quality waterborne alkyd is the perfect choice for a durable high-end finish. Painting over the tile in the shower will not only transform its look with dramatic results. It will help save huge costs—at a fraction of the cost of replacing it.

We also mentioned a topic: Can glazed ceramic tile be painted? Hope it can help you.

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