How to Paint Over Ceramic Tile in a Bathroom

Painting over tile with a roller.

Can I paint over the ceramic tile in my bathroom? And if so, how do I go about it? -Marilyn

You can paint over ceramic tile walls in a bathroom, but you will lose some of the interesting characteristics of tile since the grout lines will be the same color as the tile. Also, you will have better luck if you avoid painting tile which receives a lot of water or wear, such as:

  • Tile floor
  • Tile tub or shower surround
  • Tile vanity countertop

There are two important components to painting ceramic tile—preparing the surface properly and using the right type of paint. Here’s how to go about painting tile.

Preparation

As with most painting jobs, preparation is the key to success. To prepare tile for painting:

  • Clean Tile: Clean the tile to remove any dirt, mildew, or soap scum using an abrasive bathroom cleaner. After cleaning, wipe the surface down with a clean, wet sponge to remove any residue, then allow the surface to dry thoroughly.
  • Sand Tile: Lightly sand the tile with fine (180-220 grit) synthetic grit sandpaper, such as silicon carbide or aluminum oxide, to take the gloss off the glazed surface. An orbital sander will do a faster and better job than hand sanding.
  • Remove Dust: Wipe down the surface with a damp cloth to remove any dust and allow to dry before painting.

Painting

There are two painting options for tile:

  1. Latex Paint: Apply one to two coats of a bonding primer that’s made to adhere to surfaces such as tile. Allow the primer to dry for the recommended time, then follow with two topcoats of acrylic latex wall paint.
  2. Epoxy Paint: Apply two coats of a two-part epoxy paint that’s made for tile and other hard to paint surfaces, such as Rust-Oleum Tub & Tile. Follow the directions carefully, and allow the recommended drying time before using. The colors available for epoxy paint may be limited.

Good luck with your project,

Danny Lipford signature

Further Information

64 COMMENTS

  1. Hi,

    I have tile on my bathroom wall surrounding the tub. I believe it is ceramic. I am thinking of using Rustoleum Tub & Tile but I believe there are only three colors. Is it possible to use that and then paint over it with regular paint? There is not much information I can find on the best way to paint ceramic bathroom tiles. The tub is rarely used so a lot moisture shouldn’t be much of an issue. If you have any suggestions I would appreciate it!

    Thanks,

    Allie

  2. I have 1″X 1″ tile on my master bedroom bath. It is cracking and breaking in places. Is there anyway to correct this problem besides taking it up and putting something else? Can I put underlayment on top of broken tile floor and then put linoleum down. Thanks.

  3. I listened to your show and heard your answer I asked about putting linoleum over tile floor. They are about 1 inch X 1 inch squares. I guess I should take the commode out , take up bad tile, put down linoleum n then reinstall commode and use caulk around. Am I right? I found your show very interesting and informing. Is there anything I can use to fill the void spots where tile comes up? I hope you can follow my questions. I am 83 and plan on trying to do this job myself. Too much for me to undertake? 716-745-3488. Thanks for your info today.

  4. I am wanting to paint the ceramic wall tiles in my kitchen I have prepared as all the instructions tell you to do I just paint as normal thank you

  5. I have a ceremic kitchen counter top that i would like to restore with a paint, is your product suitable for this procudure. Thankn you for your time. Bob

  6. I have a tile shower stall. The walls are in OK shape but the floor looks discolored and dirty, even when clean. Can I paint the tile floor of my shower stall? It obviously gets a lot of water, so maybe it is not possible. Thanks much. Vee

  7. I have cheap pasteboard cabinets that have faux wood finish, some kind of paper or something on them. Do you have a method of painting them that will actually stick to the slick surface?

  8. I am changing the color in my bathroom, have white ceramic tile around the tub with a 1/2″ x 6″ colored strip close to the top, can I paint that strip my new color and if so, what kind of paint do I need..Thanks for your info.

  9. I have pink and black tile that lines my bathroom walls. About four feet high. We really don’t want to fight with the tile as far as removing it then redoing the walls. It does not go into the shower. Those fell out a year ago and we put a new case up in the shower. Anyway my question is this: can we paint those tiles on the wall and what is best for a bathroom that is smaller?

    • Amber,
      Yes, you can paint bathroom wall tile with good results if you follow the procedure outlined in the article above. Good luck with your project?

  10. My shower has tile floor and tile walls. The grout is permanently stained (nothing will clean it!) and the floor tiles have quite a few tiny chipped places near the grout lines. I am in my seventies and will be doing the work myself. Is there any non-toxic product for painting over the shower wall tiles and shower floor tiles? I need something that will last and stay white and be easy to clean.

  11. Hi guys I have a tiled bathroom which someone has painted already but it’s a poor job I’m now looking to paint over this the way you have recommended but will I have to remove the current paint that’s on the tile ?
    Thanks guys

  12. I have a bathroom that a prior owner painted the ceramic tile walls and floor. I would like to repaint. Is there a different process for tile that has previously been painted? Some of the paint is loose or missing, but 99% is still intact. I would like to do a gloss finish since the floor is white and looks dingy due to flat finish and years of wear. Any help is appreciated. Thanks

  13. Hi, I live in a villa in Bali….I would like to paint the decorative border tile which runs around the total bathroom, as this is up high it will never be exposed to water or dampness. The tile is embossed with floral pattern, I was thinking of painting it to hide the colourful pattern, the only problem here in Bali you can’t buy any of the products you have mention. If I was to clean the tile properly could I use normal paint?

  14. Hello- I googled painting over bathroom tiles and got your website. I am glad I did because I found some great tips. My question is. My bathroom has peach and blue tiles that extend into the shower. I was thinking about painting the outside tiles and replacing the ones inside of the shower myself. Is this hard to do? Also, some of the grout and caulk around the tub is cracking and I am starting to see a little mold, is that a major issue? Lastly, is it better to use sticky tiles on the bathroom floor or linoleum. My floor is peach and it is driving me crazy… Help!!!!!

  15. My bathroom and kitchen, ceramics floor tiles 15 years old, and their color became dark and not shining, in some corners became black. I am not sure why, but possibly due to excessive cleaning using chemical materials like bleach. It will be very hard to replace the tiles and costly, that is why I am looking for special paint to apply on the ceramic surface, to make it looks new, but I’m scare the paint might be come out easy as a result of daily repeat cleaning.
    Please advice me, if such a paint available
    Thanks and best regards
    Hasan Doraidi
    Doha, Qatar

  16. I have rock tile surrounding the bathroom walls in the shower area. I have a painted tub, must be careful of what you use. Actually the tile goes all around the bathroom, but only the shower area needs attention. I was looking for something easy to make it look good, and if any professional does do this work. We had painters come in to caulk and clean the ceiling, but they did not do it. We are looking for the least amount of trouble making it look decent.

  17. im wondering if I could remove the grout from the wall tiles before I paint over them or does that damage the paint as your putting grout back in just wondering that’s all, and. before I start and what is the life span of painted floor tile.

  18. I would like to paint my tiles in my bathroom. But talking to paint salesman he advised me not to, as it only a short fix and will not last. I would like to know what you think.
    Yours,
    K Walters

  19. I have a pink and green tile bathroom, I don’t want to remove the tiles. How could I paint over them? How would it look? Could you show me a full look of a painted tile bathroom?

  20. When you paint over ceramic tile, does this make the paint easy to scratch or mark ?Will the paint be durable as i am putting it on the bathroom walls only, not in the shower enclosure.

  21. Totally different question. Considering couple option. Can you apply wall paper to bathroom tile??
    Thinking of some diy home project. Can’t easily fix mistake but just asking before any mistake maken

    Thx

  22. JUST REFINISHED MY BATHTUB AND TILE ON THE WALLS WITH RUSTOLEUM TUB AND TILE. LOOKS GREAT. EASY TO DO, JUST STINKY

  23. To Judy ham and Vonciell Cunningham: For borders and white tile, nail Polish adheres to tile design some cute little flowers or something. If you get tired of them later – nail polish remover.

  24. I have just painted all the tiles in my bathroom with Rustoleum tile transformations kit. I painted them white. They were a greyish-blue colour. I found the microcloth roller left a texture I wasn’t fond of and also started falling apart and leaving pieces of fluff behind. If anyone has a particular roller that does an amazing job let me know. The paint is thick and starts to dry as you paint so a very high quality roller is required, otherwise the paint will pull it apart. Throw it out when done- waste of time trying to wash it. It cant be cleaned. I let dry and went over them with another coat of rustoleum paint. 2 kits were required. I would’ve preferred to buy the cheaper brand the second time but was worried about the colour difference (turns out white and white can be different).
    Keep checking back to where you’ve already painted as sometimes the paint slowly gathers along the top of the tile and leaves a drippy bump between the tile and the grout. This might be from using too much paint but I did try to paint sparingly. It does still seem to slowly run a little. Not to worry. It dries hard as nails. A few days later someone accidentally scuffed the wall with the ladder quite hard but not a single mark was made. If you can spare the cost of retiling- go for it. Otherwise this is a cheaper solution. I am very fussy and critical so I can tell its paint and all the flaws, but I’m waiting to see what visitors say when they see it.

  25. Help! I painted the first coat over my bathroom wall tile with epoxy yesterday. 70% of it looks great…but the area around my bathtub has many sections where the paint did not stick and has a bursted bubble effect. My question is: do I apply the second coat and hope for the best, or is there any way I can remove that area around the bath and start again. My google searches say epoxy is pretty much impossible to remove without a lot of mess or toxic strippers, I was wondering if I could sand over these areas to smooth them, then apply two more coats. What would you do?

  26. Could someone let me know if they have painted over tiles in shower cubical and if so was it a good job and what’s the best paint to use my tiles are white so I’d like them a darker colour thanks .

  27. I am very suspicious of the bonding primer recommended as I used that on my kitchen cabinets and the paint adhered to the bonding primer but the bonding primer DID NOT adhere to the cabinets, after much sanding and prepping so I am concerned will the bonding primer actually adhere to the tile?

  28. Fifteen years ago we built a house and of course made some mistakes. One of those was to put the same tile around a tub and wall behind the tub as what is on the floors throughout the house. Now it looks very very dated and a tannish color that I do not like at all. It stands out like a sore thumb! I would like to either paint all that a white and the surrounding walls as well. Or should I try to take out that tile around tub and the wall instead of painting. I want the least expensive but the most eye appealing too. And what will last for a long time. The tub is a spa like tub w/o the jets and is hardly ever used. The faucets are put into this tile where a shelf surround has been built (all tile). There is a shower head above on the wall. Worst mistake we ever made but now I am a widow and do not have anyone to guide me in this endeavor. Please help!

  29. I have painted over outdated linoleum and tile and have had great success. It is important to prep and seal in order for it to last. In our master bath I painted over country blue (yikes) tile and made it look like a terracotta. It was not under constant water, but worked well until we were able to replace (10 years and no peeling). I have also painted the floor in the upstairs hall bath. Right now I am repainting it a light gray. We will see how it comes out! The key is to use multiple paint colors and sheer layers of glaze or watered down paint to make it look like tile and not “painted.”

  30. It really helped when you talked about how cleaning, sanding, and dusting tiles are necessary before painting tiles because it allows the paint to stick better. My husband has been wanting to reinvent our bathroom by getting the tiles a new paint job. He wanted to use pastel colors to make the bathroom more relaxing. I’d be sure to share this article with him so he can pick up a few pointers for himself. If all else fails, we can always enlist a professional to do the job. Thanks for this good read!

  31. i want to repaint my ceramic bath in avacado eggshell wher can i get this paintaround roodepoort florida and krugersdorp westrand johannesburgh s.a.

  32. Help! We installed a new shower and the tile is not the subtle color grey vein Pseudo marble I thought, but black veined… busy, looks like spotted cow lighting. It’s terrible and I want to paint the shower stall turquoise. Any suggestions?

  33. Hi I accidently painted my bathroom tiles with satin floor tile paint is there anyway to make it waterproof is there anything I can go over the paint with thank you

  34. My problem is more complicated. The tiles have already been painted by previous homeowner and now it is peeling off in areas to show a blue tile. My choices are to remove all of the white paint and start over again or to just paint over it all. I can’t afford to have a surround put in and this bathtub/shower is must be updated, it look horrible. Any suggestions?

    • Hi, Shawne,
      We don’t recommend painting over the tiles as they are. It’s best to sand them and start over again.
      Simply follow the steps in this article (with extra emphasis on the sanding step), ensure the entire surface is smooth, with no peeling paint, and then make that surround look beautiful!
      Good luck!

  35. Hi, Thank you so much for sharing this informative blog and it seems really helpful, But I would like to know what about painting porcelain tiles in the bathroom? Is it possible to paint a polished porcelain tile?

    • Hi, Ariana,
      We haven’t covered that topic yet, but you might try this resource from our friends at SFGate: https://homeguides.sfgate.com/paint-porcelain-tile-32046.html
      Let us know how it works for you!

  36. I want the white tile, dark grout look in my bathroom. The contractor we bought the house from painted the tiles white latex…. No primer. It’s scraping off. I know I’ll have to use a heat gun and scrapper to remove what’s there. Then prep and use the Rust-Oleum tile paint kit. My question is if there is then a way to add the dark grout look? Can I tape off the grout when I paint, or dremmel down to it? Maybe add new dark grout after like you would if you were maintenanceing the grout? Is there a way to get this look?

  37. My ceramic tile is somewhat textured with with 3 to 4 different colors blended in. I want to keep the blended look but I want the tile to be a much lighter color. If I whitewash it, will that work? Or can I stain it a lighter color and maintain the variances in color?

    • Hi, Marsha,
      It depends on the tile; if it is glazed ceramic (and most are) it could be difficult to get a wash/stain to stick.
      If you have spare tiles, experiment on one of them and tell us how it goes! 🙂

  38. I want to paint a stencil design on my existing floor tile, without repainting a base coat. will the stencil paint adhere directly to the tile without a primer/base coat? If I do chalk paint, what type of sealer should I use and will it affect the finished result?

    • Hi, Jnette,
      This sounds like an awesome project!
      Regarding your questions: There’s really no one-size-fits-all approach. We recommend checking the stencil paint and the chalk paint’s labels to see what the manufacturer recommends and cautions against.
      Good luck!

  39. Hi,

    Hi I want to do a diy job on my bathroom but I’ve been told that painting over the tiles in a shower won’t work or at least won’t last and I will end up having to it again and again. Is there a way around this i.e the instructions you’ve given above, is that enough to keep the paint in a shower good for a long time?

    Many Thanks

    Jenny-Lee

    • Hi, Jenny-Lee,
      Every home’s different, but we’ve had great results with these method, and it’s lasted for years.
      It’s good to proceed with caution, though.
      Good luck with your project!

  40. Our handyman did a terrible job of resurfacing our shower walls with Homax tub & tile. Now we are told it’s too late to put another coat on it. I’m afraid it’s going to start flaking off. Can we paint something over that to seal it?

    • Hi, Kathy,
      Here’s where you can Homax, the manufacturer, for product-specific questions: http://www.homaxproducts.com/-us
      Good luck!

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