While there are many ways of covering the floor, walls and counters of your house, one of the most durable is ceramic tile. Not only can tile last the lifetime of the house, but also it's one of the best floor coverings for any area that might be exposed to water. Over time, ceramic tiles can scratch or crack. This can make the tile unsightly, especially tiles that are only colored on one surface and not colored throughout the tile.
Painting with Oil Paints
One option for refreshing your tile, especially if the main reason you want to change the tile is to change its color, is painting the tile. Wall and counter tiles can be easily painted with common paint products. To paint your tile, use an oil-based primer followed by an oil-based paint after it dries. Finish the job by putting a urethane coat over the top to protect the tile from scratches and accidents. Painting tiles by this method creates a surface that's only partially water-resistant and any spills or splashes need to be cleaned immediately and not left to sit on the surface of the tile. Using this method, paint the grout as well as the surface of the tiles.
Specialized Ceramic Paint
There are paints that have been specially developed for painting ceramics without kiln firing the finished product and are suitable for wet areas. These specialized enamel paints have either a three- or a four-coat system. The first coat cleans and removes any oils from the tile surface, the second coat primes the surface of the tile, and the third coat adds the color you desire. The fourth and final coat applies a clear finish that will protect the tile from abrasion and water. Apply these special tile paints with a small flat-edged artist brush, leaving the grout unpainted. This method takes longer but will produce a more sophisticated look.
If you're tired of looking at cracked floor tiles, cover it with carpeting. Lay tile on a ceramic floor by attaching tack strips to the edge of the wall underneath the molding. This may not be the best solution in a bathroom, where a carpet can get wet frequently.
You can lay linoleum over ceramic tile. However, to keep the grout lines of the tile from showing through the linoleum over time, you have to level the floor first. Use a thin application of cement floor patch to fill in the grout lines and create a flat, smooth surface on which to lay the linoleum. Cement floor patch will also fill in small to moderate-size cracks.
Selectively Replace the Tile
Instead of redoing all of the tiles, selectively remove and replace tiles that are cracked, chipped or worn. Use a grout removal kit, a hammer and a chisel to remove a few tiles and replace them with new ones. It's unlikely that you'll be able to match the tile exactly. Therefore, you'll be better off replacing a sprinkling of tiles throughout the room with a complementary color to create a pattern.