The Best Way to Update Ceramic Tile in the Bathroom Without Removing the Tile

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Update old bathroom tile with a coat of paint.
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Many older bathrooms are tiled in colors and styles that just look a little dated. But removing bathroom tile is a long, arduous and often expensive process. Luckily, there are several methods to help you update your ceramic bathroom tile at home without removing the tile from the wall. Painting, stenciling or adding decals to your bathroom tiles can give your bathroom a brand-new look quickly and affordably.

Prepping to Paint Tiles

A fresh coat of paint can give tiles a brand new lease on life. This tile update is best for the less wet areas in your bathroom, such as your backsplash, as excess water can prevent the paint from lasting as long as it should.

You first need to prep your tiles, cleaning them thoroughly and then sanding them to remove the top layer of glaze. Make sure your tiles are completely dry before beginning the painting process. Next, apply a layer of bonding primer to your tiles.

You need to take a few safety precautions when prepping and painting tiles. Wear a dust mask when sanding and a respirator mask when working with primers or paints. You should also wear goggles and gloves. Make sure the room is well-ventilated and that you've covered the edges around your tiled section with masking tape to protect it.

Painting Your Tiles

Next, you'll apply the tile paint. The best paint options for ceramic tile are high-gloss or semi-gloss latex paint. Use a small roller to apply the color of your choice across your tiles. You'll probably need two to three thin coats, so make sure each coat is properly dry before going in with another.

Finish with a layer of water-based polyurethane sealer. This will help protect your paint from fading and scratches. Allow this to dry fully according to the manufacturer's instructions before getting your bathroom tile wet.

Different Stencil Options

To get a unique look from your newly painted tiles, you can use stencils. You can purchase readymade stencils in an array of different patterns — or, for a really unique look, you can create your own using masking tape.

After following the prep steps for painting ceramic tile and applying your primer, put your stencils in place. You can then paint over the top using your paint of choice and a sponge or foam brush. Use as little paint as possible to prevent it from running underneath your stencils and spoiling the design.

Once you've stenciled over your tiles, you can lift off the stencils and allow the paint to fully dry. Again, it's essential to finish with a layer of sealer across the whole tiled area to keep your stencil designs protected.

Adding Some Decals

Another fun way to change up your bathroom tile is by adding tile decals. Decals can be used to conceal a whole tiled area, or you can choose to cover specific damaged or cracked tiles to add a statement pop of color to your bathroom.

Tile decals are fairly easy to apply. You must first ensure the area you want to cover is clean, free of any oil and grease, and totally dry. You can then peel and stick your tile decals over the area.

You can also spruce up an older bathroom tile with a colored grout pen. Changing the grout to a different shade can give your tiles a whole new look in minutes.

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Annie Walton Doyle is a freelance writer based in Manchester, UK. Her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Daily Telegraph, Professional Photography Magazine, Bustle, Ravishly and more. When not writing, she enjoys pubs, knitting, nature and mysteries.

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