Yes! You Can Paint a Ceramic Tile Floor

Painted tile floor - it really works!

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. 

Painted tile floor - after

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.

Here's how to paint a tile floor:


  1. Clean all the tiles with TSP (water and a mop)
  2. Block off a path so you can get upstairs
  3. Open all the windows and set up fans 
  4. Apply the oil-based primer with a long handled roller
  5. Let the paint dry dry
  6. Cover a portion of the newly primed floor in brown paper so you have path to the stairway
  7. Prime the rest of the tiles, let dry. The drying process went on for days in between coats
  8. Once dry, begin rolling the Porter Paints Glyptex Alkyd Paint (Behr Paint from Home Depot will do the trick too) 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, begin rolling 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 (try these masks to help cut the smell) 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.

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This Curbly post was originally published in July 2009. 


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Brent Rowlett on Mar 27, 2017:

Definite a polyurethane or polyester type of product, I would be looking to use when the time comes. Make sure you have examples you can see and good comments you can verify. Plastics are forever if you make a mistake.

Keri on Mar 27, 2017:

I was looking at using either epoxy or Break-through.

Brent Rowlett on Mar 27, 2017:

Unfortunately I can be of little help at this time. All the paint either pealed or flaked off in track areas and the floor looks terrible. I will have to wait until the tenant moves out or is willing to move all their stuff out of the way and into other rooms. It all has to be sanded away and removed. Just a disaster.

Do not use latex on anything. And adhesion is only as good as the first coating of paint you put down on any surface, brick to wood.

Keri McKiddie on Mar 27, 2017:

What do you think about using this process on my brick pavers? Is there more sealant on pavers then ceramic?

Brent Rowlett on Sep 13, 2016:

Do not use any kind of latex paint on tile floors. I used the latex floor paint sold at Home Depot (Rustoleum) and it is a disaster. I am going to have to wait until my tenants vacate to be able to sand the paint of of the tiles.

I do think that only a polyester type of paint similar to what one would bottom paint their boats would be tough enough and would provide the necessary adhesion qualities to last on tile. Most people that work at these stores do not know a thing, so do your homework.

Emily on Sep 13, 2016:

I know this is an old post but I had some questions about the different products that you used. Can you tell me the primer and urethane that you used?

Mo on Dec 28, 2014:

I wanted to paint my kitchen tile- counters and floors.  on the counters I used primer and then I applied the paint and they turned out great.  For the floor, the guy at the paint store told me "DO NOT use primer on the floor"  He gave me a Benjamin Moore Latex Floor Paint that has some epoxy in it and said not to prime.  I followed his instructions and while the floor looks great, if i actually put anything on it the paint scratches off. I have only tested this on the edges and it has only been a couple days.  I put a Chilewich floor mat over most of the floor to avoid scrathing it but am worried it will peel eventually. Would putting a coat of urethane over top help?  Not sure what to do.  ANy advice is greatly appreciated!

Carol Hampton on Jul 25, 2014:

I have terracotta tiles in orange right though house is it cheaper to paint or cover with floor boards

Jenni on Jul 05, 2014:

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.

Jan on Jun 07, 2014:

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.

Kathy on Apr 21, 2014:

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.

Connie Allen on Apr 09, 2014:

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!

B.Thomas on Apr 09, 2014:

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

alix on Jan 21, 2014:

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!

zinat on Sep 29, 2013:

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

Emrys on Jul 20, 2013:

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

Kathy on Jun 03, 2013:

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!

Liz on May 30, 2013:

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. 

Brent on May 29, 2013:

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.

Lynda on May 26, 2013:

My tile floor is already painted, but very worn. Will I have to strip off the existing paint?

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