Yes! You Can Paint a Ceramic Tile Floor

By: Modhomeecteacher Jul 27, 2009

created at: 2009-07-27

When we bought our house many years ago, one big problem was the big front entry and hallway. They were tiled in a mauve-y purple thick ceramic tile. Mr. Mod had just put down hardwood floors in the large great room and we had them stained and finished by a professional (at that time we lacked DIY know how), and we were tapped out. 

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created at: 2009-07-27

Contrary to the advice of every single paint store person I interrogated, I decided to go ahead and paint the tiles.

We've been here well over fifteen years and I've only touched up the paint once. I don't even have a rug running down this hallway and I've never had to touch up that stretch. BTW-that door on the right goes down to the studio so it gets lots of foot traffic.

I simply did this: 

1.  Cleaned all the tiles with TSP (water and a mop)

2.  Blocked off a path so we could get upstairs

3.  Opened all the windows and set up fans

4.  Applied the oil based primer with a long handled roller

5.  Let dry

6. Covered a portion of the newly primed floor in brown paper so we had path to the stairway

7.  Primed the rest of the tiles, let dry

The drying process went on for days in between coats

8.  Once dry, I began rolling the Porter Paints Glyptex Alkyd Paint over the tiles, repeating the whole path to the stairs process

9.  Let the first coat dry for a few days

10.  Apply second coat, let dry

11.  Since the paint was very light, I lightly applied an ever so subtle darker shade on top of the first color. Barely noticeable. This provided an ever so slight variegated surface so dust and dirt wouldn't be quite so obvious.

12. Let dry for a few more days

13. Finally, I began the rolling of urethane over the entire floor, not once, not twice but three times with ample drying time in between.

As I recall, the fumes were pretty bad and we may have slept on the porch for a few nights but this was a quick fix that has lasted more than a decade.

Sometimes you win one.

 

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Comments

I would like to know which products you used. I have a small ensuite bathroom with terracotta orange tiles. I would like to paint them white.

I'm definitely going to save your blog to my bookmarks. I just read up on the 29th Ave bathroom remodel and gave me a few ideas. I've posted my questions there. Now about the floor tile paint project. Love it and wonder if this is possible in an entry way, kitchen, pantry, and dining room. Currently it's that ugly pinky color w/some texture to each one. I'm redoing the cabinets white with a bluish grey accent, a slightly darker counter and tiling backsplash with stone tile and may be painting that white and do the grout lines in the accent color on the cabinets. Would like to know if you think doing this project would be doable and is it the 3 coats of urethane make the difference and make it more durable for this kitchen? THanks.

I am not sure if it is ceramic tile or not, but it is some knd of tile that has been in this house a long time. I have lived here 25 years, and I know it's been atleast twice that, maybe even 3 times that. Maybe it is an Asbesto's tile? I don't know, but I can't afford to remove and replace it, nor can I afford to cover it up right now. What I am wondering is If I can paint it, and how do I do it? I'd like something middle of the road color. Not too light and not too dark. It will be in a bedroom so not real crazy traffic. the color of the bedroom is yet to be determined. Light pink or light teal maybe.

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B. Thomas, I live in Texas and painted my ceramic tile floor.  It was that dirty-looking tan/brown combination.  Like yours, mine always looked dirty.  I painted it with oil-based enamel and it has held up fairly well, considering the traffic it has.  Of course, if I drop anything metal, it chips, but it's easily touched up.  I didn't put a topcoat of anything on it and probaby should have to add more durability.  I did it as a temporary fix until I could afford to install something else, but it's been three years now.  I plan to paint it again once the weather cooperates and I can leave the doors open while it dries.  Do it--you'll love the end result!

I have a kitchen floor that has cream colored floor tile. I hate it. It always looks dirty no matter what I do. So I was thinking of painting it but I wanted to cover it with epoxy after I painted it.Not sure in Texas

HI..yes, paint the strip of wood. the darker beige color. and prep it well, sand and prime. and seal. floor looks good now. boooooooo on houses with no floors!

I read your blog, but I couldn't find what brand and what paint you used for the tile. Please let me know.

Now imagine a little faux stone or brick painting.... The biggest problem I can see is Cat Traffic. 

I am so happy I found your post! I would love to try this on my own floor. Were your original tiles glossy or matte? My tiles have a glossy finish and I'm worried that the primer or any other finish applied to the tiles will not adhere to the surface. I am soooo encouraged by the fact that you've only had to touch up once in fifteen years. Your floor looks amazing!

To clean the bathroom trim tiles that were painted by previous owners, we've just used regular bathroom cleaners - mostly with bleach, as I'm crazy about bathroom cleanliness. And like I said, the only tiles showing any sign of paint peeling were a few in the shower stall in particular areas where the water constantly hits them. 

Tiling the living room and dining room in a rental home, I took the advice of a Home Depot person who recommended sealing the grout. My laborer was not careful in applying the sealer and got a lot on the tile. It immediately yellowed and looked unsightly. Regardless, I would not have wanted yellowing grout lines, so we ended up trying to sand the edges of the tiles clean--that stuff does NOT come up with anything. So I too will paint these tiles, but fear a yellowing urethane. What brand do you recommend? I wish to talk to the manufacturer before beginning the work. Don't trust cheap products sold by Home Depot or their sales people.
My tile floor is already painted, but very worn. Will I have to strip off the existing paint?

Just wondering... how slippery did the floor become?

I'm curious ... did you paint the grout inbetween the tiles, as well as the tiles?  I want to do this, but don't want to make a mess  : )

I would like to do a little embellishment (scrollwork/vines) as a transition from square living room tile and rectangular porch tiles. The existing tilework is great and the tiles are quite beautiful, but it does lack a little oomph because it's all a very light, neutral colour. Thankful for any advice!

For the people who wanted to know about bathrooms - The previous owners of our house had the master bathroom tiles painted, so I'm not sure the exact process used, but the paint on the floor tiles has held up at least 10 years (guessing as to when it was actually painted) and the tiles in the shower are just starting to show bits of hunter green showing through. The bathroom was tiled in white with hunter green designed trim in the shower and little diamonds on the floor. The previous owner painted the green tiles black. So, even with serious weekly (or bi-weekly) scrubbing, those tiles look great. It actually took us months to even realize they were painted in the first place! I think it's possible to do in the bathroom, but maybe just the trim colors. I don't know what it would be like had they tried to paint the main tiles, too. 

when you painted your tile were there any cracks and how did the paint cover them?  The tile we are considering painting has several cracks.

Do you have before and after pictures?

I am so excited to try this! I have old white builders' tile in my kitchen. I just painted my kitchen cabinets off-white and added granite counter tops. My floor looks just awful now and I can't afford to retile right now. This sounds perfect and I can do it myself. Thanks a lot!

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Can you tell me what kind of urethane you used?  I went to the paint store and asked for some kind of polyurethane that would not yellow.  But they didn't recommend using anything over the oil-based paint.  It's my kitchen floor and I'm afraid if I don't put some kind of finish on it, it won't last as long.

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