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Sick of Your Floor Tile? You Should Paint It!

Sick of your floor tile? Paint it! Everything you need to know about floor tile paint.
Photo: Jess McGurn

Most of us have had one at some point or another... an ugly ceramic tiled floor. Well, here's the good news... you don't necessarily have to tear it up – painting is a great option that requires less time and money than re-tiling. Keep reading to learn more about using floor tile paint to give your space a quick, affordable makeover.   

 

Before and after of painted floor tiles
Photos: Driven By Decor

Would you just look at that red floor tile?! Paint completely transformed the room, no demo required. The gray paint also gives the tile more of a matte look, which coordinates well with the rest of the space. 

 

Another before and after of floor tile paint job
Photos: The Nester

This next one is pretty drastic too... the outdated brown floor was transformed with gray paint to give the space a farmhouse vibe, rather than the rustic look of the brown tones.

 

Floor tile paint job in pretty pattern
Photos: Cutting Edge Stencils

Stenciling is another great way to use paint to change up the look of your floor. The process is similar, with the added stenciling step. But the extra effort really pays off... look at those tiles now!

 

How durable is floor tile paint?

One blogger shared photos of her painted floor after six months of everyday use... and the results are impressive. There is a bit of normal wear and tear, but nothing that wouldn't happen with any floor. Here's another beautiful example of the longevity of painted tile floors.

Just be sure to clean your floors extremely well before you start, and don't skimp on any of your materials. This blogger also suggests sanding your floors before your start, to give the paint a rough surface to adhere to.  BobVila.com recommends using a high quality sealant to protect your painted floors once you're finished, and regularly sweeping to avoid a buildup of dirt and grime. Be sure to put felt furniture pads on the bottoms of chair legs to avoid scratches, and use neutral pH solvents when you need to do a deep clean.

 

What kind of paint should you use? 

Most people recommend starting with Zinsser Bulls Eye 123 Interior and Exterior Primer, and then using a heavy duty paint meant for floors or outdoor decks. You can get these items at your local home improvement store or online. And this blogger used chalk paint with great success.

 

How to paint a tile floor:

Here are the basic steps that you will need to follow to paint your floors. 

  1. Clean the tiles and grout thoroughly with TSP cleaner using water and a mop.
  2. Be sure to open all the windows and set up fans. 
  3. Working in small sections, apply the primer to the grout with a brush and to the tiles themselves with a long handled roller.
  4. Let the primer dry completely.
  5. Once dry, begin rolling the floor tile paint over the tiles in smooth even strokes.
  6. Let the first coat dry for two days.
  7. Apply a second coat and let dry for two more days.
  8. Finally, roll urethane over the entire floor three times with ample drying time in between.

How to remove paint from tile floor:

In the unlikely event that you'd like to remove any or all of your floor tile paint, simply purchase a commercial paint remover made specifically for your type of floor tile. Apply it to the surface using a cloth, and then remove everything using another clean, damp cloth. For a more natural alternative, use a mixture of equal parts warm vinegar and water to remove the paint.


 

Still not convinced? Here's a first-person testimonial on painting tiles from former Curbly contributor, Shelly Leer:

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 - it really works!

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.

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.

Sometimes you win one.


How to floor tile paint
Share this post on Pinterest! Photo: Remington Avenue

 

Comments

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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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