How to Change the Color of Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tiles are durable and long-lasting. This is a benefit when you've installed a tile that you love in your home, but it can be frustrating if you've moved into a house with dated tile colors and designs. Tearing the tile out and starting over is an option, but is an expensive and time-consuming process. Instead, consider painting your tiles a more desirable color.

Modern bathroom with ceramic tile.
credit: robinimages/iStock/GettyImages
A coat of paint can refresh outdated ceramic tile choices.

Painting ceramic tile is actually quite easy if you properly prepare the surface and use the recommended paint. In fact., the process is much like painting any other material. You need to clean, sand, prime, paint and protect the surface. If you perform all the necessary steps, your finished paint job will look great and last for many years.

Tools and Materials You Will Need

  • Bucket
  • Detergent or cleaner
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Power sander
  • Sandpaper (180- or 220-grit)
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Painter's tape
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Paint brushes and low-nap roller
  • Polyurethane

Step 1 Clean the Tiles

Wash the tile thoroughly to remove any dirt and grease. You can use soap and water, vinegar or any other cleanser you like. You can even use a mildly abrasive cleanser if desired, as you will be sanding the tiles after cleaning them. Scrub the tile in a circular motion to remove as much debris as possible.

Step 2 Sand the Tiles

Sand the ceramic tiles with a palm or orbital sander using 180- to 200-grit </ahref="https:>sandpaper. Remove as much of the shine from the tiles as you can. Scuffing the shiny surface of the tile is essential for bonding the primer and paint. Vacuum up the sanding dust with your vacuum's hose attachment and then wipe the surface down with denatured alcohol.

Step 3 Tape Off Grout Lines

Tape off your grout lines if you have elected not to paint them. If you're having trouble finding thin masking tape at your local hardware store, visit an automotive store or vehicle painter. Pinstripers often use very thin masking tape when creating custom paint jobs. This thin masking tape is excellent for taping off grout lines.

Step 4 Prime the Tiles

Prime the area with a primer made for ceramic surfaces. Brush the primer into any corners and then roll it onto the remaining surface with a low-nap roller. Remember to move the roller in multiple directions rather than straight up and down or left to right. This helps eliminate obvious roller marks that will mar the look of your finished product.

Step 5 Apply Paint

Allow the primer to dry thoroughly and then apply the paint using the same technique you did with the primer. For best results, use an oil-based paint or latex paint that contains urethane resin. Epoxy paint also works well on tile. If necessary, apply a second coat of paint once the first coat dries.

Step 6 Apply Finish

Allow the paint to cure for two days. Remove any dust and dirt with a soft cloth, and then apply a polyurethane clear coat to the tiles. Apply as many coats of polyurethane as recommended by the product manufacturer for optimum protection.