Emma Norris - 19 Aug, 2021

Everything You Need to Know About Painting Bathroom Tiles

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Why replace your bathroom tiles when you can paint them? Here’s everything you need to know about this more affordable option.

There’s no better way to give your bathroom a makeover than by refreshing your tiles. It can instantly make the entire room look fresher, cleaner and newer. The best part is, you don’t even have to splash thousands of dollars getting your tiles replaced. Painting over your existing tiles is a far more affordable option.

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While tile painting went out of fashion in the industrial revolution (when handcrafted tiles were replaced by mass-produced ones), it’s had something of a resurgence in recent years. Perhaps it’s because many of us have found ourselves with more time at home for DIY projects, due to the COVID-19 lockdowns!

Whether you’re looking for a more personalised aesthetic in your bathroom or just want to save some money, painting your home tiles has an array of benefits. That said, it’s not always as simple as swiping any old paint over your existing tiles — there are some considerations to be aware of.

Here, we cover everything you need to know about painting your bathroom tiles — from the pros to the cons, to the materials you’ll need and a step-by-step guide.

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The pros of painting your own bathroom tiles

The benefits of DIYing your bathroom tiles include:

  • It’s a more customisable approach, as it gives you more control over the exact colour and finishes that you want
  • It’s far more affordable, as you can expect to pay as little as $100 to paint 100 square feet, vs up $1500 if you paid a professional contractor
  • It can often be faster, as you don’t need to wait for an appointment with a contractor (which is also tough to coordinate in lockdown)
  • With the right paint, you can make your existing tiles even more durable to withstand wear and tear

The cons of painting your own bathroom tiles

For all its advantages, painting your bathroom tiles does come with its downsides. These include:

  • It can be a big-time and energy commitment, as you’ll need to do all the preparation, designing and painting yourself
  • Achieving a good result does require some skill and a steady hand
  • There are still some initial costs involved in purchasing the painting equipment if you don’t already own them
  • If done incorrectly, you can end up with chipped or damaged tiles which you’ll later have to replace

What you’ll need to paint your bathroom tiles

Decided to go the DIY route and tackle the tiles yourself? Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A microfibre roller and tray
  • Tile paint
  • Paint primer
  • A paintbrush
  • An angled, sash cutter brush
  • A paint stirrer
  • A bucket
  • Paint sealant 
  • Rubber cleaning gloves
  • Safety glasses
  • A respirator or dust mask
  • Mould killer
  • A drop sheet
  • Masking tape
  • Sandpaper
  • A toothbrush
  • Sugar soap
  • A microfibre cloth

You can purchase all of these supplies from Bunnings, or a similar hardware shop.

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What kind of paint should you use for bathroom tiles?

One of the biggest decisions when refreshing your shower or floor tiles is what kind of tile paint to use. Because, when it comes to painting ceramic tiles, not all paint is created equal.

It’s important to opt for a paint that isn’t water-based, otherwise, it won’t adhere to the tiles properly. The best option for bathroom tile paint is anti-bacterial, water-resistant epoxy paint. Dulux Renovation Range’s Tile Paint is a good, failproof option — however, these come in limited colours. For a more customisable approach, the White Knight Tile Paint allows you to tint with thousands of different colours. If you’re pressed for time, One Coat Tile Paint is also a quick and effective option.

paint for bathroom tiles

How to paint your bathroom tiles

Ready to roll up your sleeves and dive in? Here’s your simple, step-by-step guide to painting your bathroom tiles. 

1. Prepare your bathroom

Preparation is key to achieving an optimal result! To get your tiles ready to paint, first, give them a good scrub. Add some water and sugar soap to a bucket to create a solution, then mop your floors with it. Then grab a scrubber and add the solution, and go wild.

You’ll then want to put some mould killer on a toothbrush (one that you’re planning on discarding afterwards, of course!) to really get in and scrub the mould from your grout lines. Make sure you have your respirator on at this stage or crack a window, as the fumes can be quite potent. Leave the mould killer on for a few minutes before cleaning off.

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2. Sand your tiles

Next, it’s time to lightly sand down your tiles. This step will help the primer and paint bond to the tile, and you’ll achieve a better, long-lasting result. Grab your sandpaper and put in some elbow grease sanding it down. Then, wipe down the dust with your microfibre cloth, to leave the surface nice and clean

3. Apply masking tape

Grab your tape and apply it to any surfaces you want to protect from paint, such as skirting boards or walls. You can use painter’s tape, but masking tape works just as well. Lay it down smooth, and press firmly to make sure it adheres.

4. Prime your tiles

Next up, it’s time to prime. Make sure to use a primer specifically for painting tiles — Dulux Renovation Range is a good option. Then, mix it up and apply it to your tiles and grout with a paintbrush. To finish up, give it one more coat with a roller and let it dry for a few hours.

5. Apply your first coat

Finally, it’s time to start painting! You can use the same approach you used for the primer (use the paintbrush to ‘cut-in’ to smaller areas first, then the roller) with your topcoat of paint. Be sure to paint in long, even strokes for best results. You can also use a spray gun and stencil for an even more time-efficient approach. Let this first coat of paint dry for at least eight hours.

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6. Add your second coat and sealant

Once your tiles are dry, add your second coat using the same technique. To get it nice and even, go over it one more time with an uneven roller. It’s also a good idea to apply 2 to 3 layers of sealant or polyurethane over the paint for added durability, letting each coat dry.

Voila, you’ve now got your freshly painted bathroom tiles! Now all that’s left to do is enjoy your dazzling new bathroom.

painting bathroom tiles

Words by Emma Norris

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