How to Paint a Ceramic Tile Floor

If you're looking to upgrade your existing ceramic tile flooring, or if it's just a slight aesthetic tweak you seek, painting tiles can be a great way to make the changes you need. Assuming your tiles are in good working condition, you can save yourself the trouble of ripping out and replacing your flooring by giving it a fresh a coat of paint, instead committing to an enormous demolition project. Painting ceramic tile flooring is fairly quick and easy with minimal tools, some forehand knowledge and a bit of preparation.

White kitchen
credit: Franck-Boston/iStock/GettyImages
If you’re looking to upgrade your existing ceramic tile flooring, or if it’s just a slight aesthetic tweak you seek, painting tiles can be a great way to make the changes you need.

Finding Floor Tile Paint

Using the correct type of paint will help you achieve the best results when painting your tile floors. Using two coats of latex paint is a great choice when applied over a coat of primer. If you don't wish to prime your floors before painting, chalk paint is a good option, although coverage will be a bit lighter. Oil-based paint is the most long-lasting of the paints, especially when faced with the wear and tear that comes with a surface you'll be walking on, but it does take much longer than other types to dry.

Prepping for Paint

Before you begin painting your ceramic tile flooring, you'll want to prepare the area, which will ensure that the paint will stick to the tiles easily and will offer the longest amount of wear. To start prepping your tiles, clean the area by sweeping or vacuuming away any dirt and loose debris. If you have any grime or residue, use an abrasive cleanser to remove anything stuck to the tile surface.

Painting ceramic tile flooring in a bathroom or kitchen may be met with mildew or soap scum, which should be removed with a bathroom cleaner that's wiped away, using a wet cloth, once the mess is scrubbed clean.

If you're painting over ceramic tile with a glossy or shiny finish, you'll need to sand down the top layer to create a surface rough enough for your paint to stick to. You can sand the area by hand using 200-grit sandpaper to remove the glaze.

If you're working on a larger area of the house, a handheld orbital sander will help you get the job done much faster and can usually be found at hardware stores for under $50. Once your tile has been sanded down, brush away any dust, wipe the surface with a wet cloth and allow everything to dry well before you start painting.

Painting Your Tiles

Once your floor is prepped and cleaned, you can start painting over your ceramic tiles. To begin, use a paint roller to apply paint to your tiles, taking care to move the roller in the same direction each time. If you're working in a smaller area or if you have edges or corners to cut in, swap out the roller for a paintbrush and do your best to apply paint in an even coat across the floor.

After your floor is entirely painted, give it two to three days to dry completely, which can be sped up by opening up any doors and windows in the room. Once the paint is dry, apply two coats of urethane paint sealer that's water-based, allowing each coat to dry before applying the next.

If you're looking to add designs to your ceramic tiles, you can paint them a number of ways either by freehand or using floor tile stencils. A ceramic tile paint kit is also a helpful tool. If you're using a stencil to add a design to your flooring, use painters tape to secure it to your tiles to ensure that the pattern is uniform all the way across. If you have designs specific to certain individual tiles, you can protect the design, as well as the tiles around them, by using painters tape and an angled brush.


Krissy Howard

Krissy Howard

Krissy Howard is a NY-based freelance writer who specializes in creating content regarding pet care, skin care, gardening, and original humor. Her work has appeared on Reader's Digest, Hello Giggles, and Reductress.