There are several reasons why you might want to change the look of the tile in your home. Maybe it's outdated, you've changed your interior decor, you're tired of the current color or you simply want to try something new. In any event, changing the color of your tile floor often means retiling, which can be very expensive. But depending on the type of floor tile you have, you may be able to stain or paint your tiles, altering the look of your space.
Staining Tile Floors
Depending on the type of tile you have on your floor, staining may be an option, or you may need to use the stain as a "paint." Natural stone that is unglazed and unsealed may absorb the stain, particularly porous stones like slate or saltillo stone. However, most tiles that are placed in bathrooms and kitchens or other interior spaces are already sealed and glazed, such as ceramic or porcelain tiles.
This doesn't mean that changing color is impossible. Wood stain on a ceramic tile will act more like a paint than a stain. The stain will not be absorbed into the tile the way that it would on porous stone or wood. Rather, it will sit on top of the surface of the tile. It will likely penetrate any grout between the tiles, successfully changing the grout's color, which is another consideration.
For those who like the look of stained grout and the painted tiled surface, the application of wood stain on ceramic tile might be a good option. However, if you have glazed tile and don't want the finish to look or feel like paint, you may need to explore other options. It is possible to sand down glazed tile to get it ready for priming and painting, which is a good alternative to using a wood stain.
Preparing Tile Floors For Staining
If your tile floor is made of natural stone or unglazed tile, you do not have to worry about sanding the surface down. But if the surface is uneven or craggy underfoot, you may want to consider sanding to make the surface a little more level.
If you have glazed or finished tiles, especially if they are stained or marred by bleach, you will want to sand them. Sanding removes the glaze and creates a gritty surface that will allow primer and paint to stick to the surface of the tile. Using a mechanical sander or fine-grit sandpaper, sand every single corner of the tile floor, making sure you don't miss any spots.
Once you have finished sanding, you have to sweep up every bit of dust. A vacuum won't be sufficient, so plan to sweep and vacuum repeatedly to make sure you've gotten every dust and grit particle picked up. Otherwise, you run the risk of painting the grit into the tile, creating an unsightly and bumpy surface. Follow by scrubbing the floors clean with a commercial stripping agent.
How to Stain Tile Floor
Prepare the tile with a layer of primer, making sure you cover all of the grout and surface of the tile. Once the primer has dried, you may apply the stain or paint of your choosing. Grey tile stain is a popular choice for bathrooms and kitchens. It's warmer and less clinical than white color, but is also very neutral and will go with nearly any sort of decor.
Once the primer has dried, you can begin to paint or stain the tile. Use a roller to apply the stain or paint directly to the tile, being careful to go over all the surfaces evenly. If you are using paint, use the dedicated floor or porch paint. This paint is designed to face the harsh weather conditions and high foot traffic that outdoor spaces tolerate, so you can be sure it will work on a tile floor.
Allow the paint or stain to dry overnight. Apply a second and third coat following the manufacturer's instructions. After it dries completely, you can begin to use your floor.
Ashley Friedman is a freelance writer with experience working in the home, design and interiors space.