How to Paint Over Existing Tile. When you are ready to remodel the bathroom, you do not have to remove the old tile--if you are looking to save money. With the right tools and a good knowledge base, you can do it. A few good tips will help the job go easier when you paint over existing tile.
Selecting Paint and Supplies
Compare the different types of paint that are suggested for tile or ceramics and the recommended way to apply it.
Choose the correct primer if a primer is necessary; many types of latex paint require a primer. An alkyd or oil-based paint may not need a primer. Be sure to read the manufacturer's instructions. One of the best types of paint for tile is appliance type epoxy enamel; it is tough and durable and you can buy it in spray cans.
Buy the paint and necessary supplies; don't forget to get tape, paint remover, rags, gloves and dust masks. Decide if you will be using spray cans or a spray gun; if not you will need to buy foam brushes and rollers as well.
Clean the bathroom tile with a mixture of vinegar and ammonia to remove built up soap residue. Rinse well and let the tile dry, repeat cleaning and rinsing if the tile still has soap build up on it. For difficult residue, you can buy TSP at a paint store but be sure to carefully follow manufacturer directions.
Sand the bathroom tile lightly, just enough to scuff it up. This will help the primer and paint adhere to the tile. Vacuum the dust, then wipe down the tiles to remove any excess dust from sanding.
Re-grout the tile if necessary and clean any caulking from the tub or surround if needed.
Remove any fixtures that can be removed from the tile; remove shower head and faucet handles if possible. If you cannot remove the fixtures, cover them tightly with a plastic bag.
Protect surrounding areas by taping off; take special care to tape off the tub and protect surrounding walls and built in soap dishes.
Painting the Tile
Cut in the paint first. This is done by painting the inside corners of the tile wall, and the edges where the tile meets the ceiling and walls. Also, cut in around the fixtures and anywhere a roller cannot reach. Cut in with the primer if you are using primer and cut in at least 2 coats of paint.
Spray the bathroom tile with a spray can or spray gun. Practice using a spray gun or can of spray paint; practice on a piece of cardboard. The secret to spray painting is to begin the spraying an inch or 2 before it touches the tile, and end the spray an inch or 2 beyond the tile. Paint in smooth strokes, using several light coats; do not paint too heavily or the paint may run.
Use a disposable foam roller if you will be painting by hand. Foam tends to leave very few marks and a roller is better than a brush. Brush strokes will most likely be seen if you are using a brush, whether it is foam or a natural bristle brush.
Follow manufacturer directions for time to dry between coats. When you have finished painting, do not use the bathroom shower or tub for at least 48 hours, depending on the humidity in your house.