How to Paint Terra-cotta Floor Tiles

Terra-cotta tiles, like ceramic tiles, are created by firing clay in a kiln. However, terra cotta is left its natural color, while ceramic is typically treated with a glaze coat that makes it impervious to soil and liquids. Terra-cotta tiles, usually 6 inches square, are reddish-brown. One variety of terra-cotta tiles is used in kitchens because it is given a slip-resistant surface. To apply lasting coverage to terra-cotta floor tiles, the floor must be thoroughly cleaned and correctly primed, painted and coated.


Step 1

Thoroughly clean the tile. There may be mineral residue, grease, or other dirt trapped in the porous tiles. Scrub the tiles with a brush and distilled or purified water, to avoid adding mineral residue from tap water. If necessary, use a trisodium phosphate cleaner according to manufacturer directions. Avoid the use of abrasive cleaning methods or materials like strong acids, high-pressure water, or metal-bristled brushes.

Step 2

Dry the tile using a wet/dry vacuum.

Step 3

Apply an acrylic masonry primer to protect the finish. Several paint companies offer a variety of masonry primers. Use a roller or brush, and apply the primer according to manufacturer directions.

Step 4

Allow the primer to dry completely.

Step 5

Apply a semigloss or high gloss acrylic or latex paint. Follow manufacturer directions.

Step 6

Let the paint dry for two to three days, then coat the floor tiles with clear, non-yellowing, water-based urethane or polyurethane.

Angela Ryczkowski

Angela Ryczkowski is a professional writer who has served as a greenhouse manager and certified wildland firefighter. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in urban and regional studies.