How to Paint Over Your Old Bathroom Floor Tiles?

how to paint bathroom floor tiles

When you think of a home improvement, you most likely think of remodeling your kitchen or your living room.

You probably didn’t think about your bathroom.

And that’s just strange since you spend so much time in that room in your life, you might as well make it look better.

Plus, your guest will always compliment a nice bathroom.

So maybe I have convinced you, or better yet you were intent on improving your bathroom in some meaningful way.

I personally believe that the easiest and most impactful way to improve your bathroom relatively cheaply is to repaint over your old floor tiles.

7 Steps to Paint Old Floor Tiles in Your Bathroom

If you are anything like me, I have these super-dated red-ceramic tiles in my bathroom which have seen better days.

So, in this article, we are going to go in-depth about how I fixed up my tile and how you can do the same.

Let’s breathe some new life into our bathroom with repainting!

Step 1: Sand the Floor Tiles

Before we even begin, I hope you will clean your bathroom in general.

Remove any old clothes or anything on the ground. We will want a nice and clean working area for our project.

A simple little sweep and a once-over to pick up any larger debris will be a good start.

So, let’s call that step 0, here is step 1.

In this step we will now want to sand down the tiles.

This will remove any of the scuffs, debris you couldn’t sweep up and it will create a better surface for the primer to stick onto.

Sanding is important also to get and old paint off floor tiles before you repaint the surface fresh.

If you didn’t know, primer and paint for that matter will do a much better job sticking to the surface if it is rough, so sanding does this job perfectly.

You can do this by hand, but I can only recommend that if it is a small amount of surface area you plan on sanding.

Using an electric sander can save you much time and effort, so if you have one or can borrow one from a friend, I highly recommend it.

So, then you just sand all of your tiles to get any of the gunk off and to rough up the surface.

Like any sanding job, begin with a low grit, around 80, and step your way up to 120 grit and once again to 240 grit.

You don’t have to have these exact sandpapers, but this should give you a general idea of the increase you will want to use. 

Step 2: Deep Clean the Floor

So now, we have to deep clean our tiles.

I recommend using a vacuum to suck up all the dust but, if that isn’t an option, make sure you sweep as well as you can.

This job is going to require more than a simple sweep-through. We will want to CLEAN this floor with some special chemicals.

You can go out and buy some specific tile floor cleaner from a hardware store or online, but this can be a little pricey for a cleaner you will use once.

Using a generic multi-use floor cleaner solution (like soap water, vinegar, etc) will also work just fine in my opinion.

Whichever option you choose, just follow the direction on the cleaner and use it.

After that, I cleaned my tile with a scrub and some warm water to make sure I didn’t miss any spots.

This may sound excessive, but any dirty spot that you leave will break through your paint and there is no saving it besides starting the process again.

Step 3: Last Minute Touch-Ups and Repairs

This may be a very time-consuming step for some floors and may not apply to other floors.

Depending on the condition of your tile floor, you may or may not want to fix it up a bit.

I had a few tiles that were cracked, and some completely destroyed in my opinion.

On the tiles that I deemed as destroyed, I actually dug them out to completely replace them.

As I have no expectation of ever changing this floor, I want to make sure it looks good now. 

On the slightly cracked ones, I simply caulked it back in place.

Finally, I made sure that all the grout was in good condition.

There were a few areas that the grout was simply missing or damaged, but all I did was caulked in the gap to fill it in.

If you want to be more professional, you can redo the grouting, however, I simply didn’t have the time nor desire to do that.

I decided caulking would be good enough for my purposes.

Step 4: Prime the Flooring Tiles Well

We briefly mentioned it before, but now it’s time to prime your tile.

There are tons of different types of primer out in the world, but we probably will want one that is oil-based, as if it was water-based, there could be some problems as my tile is in my bathroom. 

The whole point of primer is to be the middleman between the surface and paint.

Paint naturally has a hard time sticking to most surfaces, but it can stick to primers.

And primers tend to be designed pretty well to be able to be used on almost any surface.

If you put two and two together, this is a necessary step to make sure our paint is applied properly so it will stay for a long time.

Each primer is a little different, so follow the instructions on the bottle.

But if you were curious, I used a roller for the majority of the floor.

However, I had to go back with a smaller paintbrush to do touch-ups on the edges of the floor and the grout lines in between the tiles.

We want to make sure we cover everything!

It’s pretty simple and the only way you could mess this up is by painting yourself in a corner, make sure you have a way out!

Step 5: Finally Paint Your Tiles

So now it is finally time to paint the tiled floor and guess what you have to do?

Exactly the same thing as how you primed it.

Use a roller for most of it but you will have to come back with a paintbrush to get the gaps and the edges.

Generally, just follow the instructions on the paint can.

You may have to apply two to three coats, depending on your bathroom floor tile, your paint, and what you want.

Like primers, there are a lot of paint options that you can choose for the tiled floors in your bathroom.

When picking the paint for ceramic tiled floor in bathroom keep in mind that you cannot use just any kind of water-based paint.

For most parts, you will need a heavy-duty paint like epoxy paint that is anti-bacterial as well as water-resistant.

You may also get some sort of exterior floor, deck, or patio paint. This kind of paint is usually designed to withstand more wear and tear.

Plus, as patios sometimes get wet, this type of paint is resistant to water, which is especially important in bathrooms. 

Step 6: Seal your Bathroom Floor (Optional)

Sealing your shower tiles and floors is a completely optional step that you may want to consider.

A sealer such as polyurethane will make your new floor more durable and last longer in general.

However, as we used a nice primer and patio paint, the floor should be as durable as you would ever need.

The only downside with sealing is the fact it takes a little time to apply another layer of paint, and that if your sealant gets scuffed, it is a little tricky to fix.

Although you can just go over it again with more sealer, that is much like putting a bandage on a broken bandage, a little silly.

Plus, if you do this multiple times, your floors won’t be as pretty as they may be.

For my project, I’m not sealing it as this bathroom doesn’t get the most use and I don’t want to deal with sealant repairs.

But if you think you can benefit, by all means go for it!

Step 7: Finishing Up

Although we labeled this step as “Finishing Up,” you are basically all done!

All we have to say is let it dry completely. Like completely!

We just applied a ton of liquid onto your floors, so it may take a long time for it to completely set into its final form.

Like a few days to a couple weeks, depending on your local environment.

So, within this time frame, be careful with the floor as you don’t want to have to go back and fix your beautiful work you just did. 

But after about a week of waiting, it’s finally done. You successfully repainted your tile floor!

I hope your floor turned out similar to mine, as I love it.

What Color to Paint the Tiles With?

The color you choose to paint your bathroom tiles can really make an impact.

Especially if you want to remodel a small bathroom on a budget.

If your bathroom isn’t very large, it’s best to go for light hues such as cream, light grey, light green, or simply white.

While neutral colors like these can help to keep the tone calm and clean, you can still choose darker shades (like brown, black, etc) if your bathroom is big.

What you can also do is paint the tile grout with a darker shade keeping the tiles lighter and glossy.

Or just vice versa i.e. tiles with dark paint color keeping the grout lighter.

This technique can make your small bathroom look luxurious.

In my opinion, white paint and other light finishes can make space look bigger by reflecting the available light more.

And for this reason, they are especially effective for small spaces like your bathroom.

While selecting the right paint colors for floor tiles, also keep in mind that you don’t need to match the floor and wall tiles – it isn’t mandatory.

Should You Kill Mold on Bathroom Floors Before Painting?

There are several reasons why I think painting over mold should NOT be an option…

First of all, mold is not a stain or some dust that you can paint over to solve the problem.

If you decide to paint over mold, the paint will not kill the mold. And in the long run, it will not hide the mold either.

Basically, the mold will keep on growing behind the paint, and it will reappear in a short while.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), if the mold covers over ten square feet of the wall, you need to get professional help.

If it’s less than that, you can undertake the DIY job yourself.

Here is what you will need for scrubbing the mold of your bathroom floor and other wooden areas if mold exists there:

  • Bleach
  • Water
  • Sponge
  • Scrub bush
  • Chisel and epoxy filler (in case of rot in wooden areas)

Once you have all your materials, it is time to inspect the wooden areas’ framing in your bathroom to make sure that it doesn’t have rot.

Once that is done, you will have to fill the space with epoxy filler to seal the area.

However, if the damage is extensive, you may have to replace the wood parts in your bathroom.

After all of this is done, you are now ready to remove the mold.

  • Make a solution of ten parts water for every one part of bleach
  • Scrub the mold with a scrub brush or a sponge
  • If there are some nooks and corners that are difficult to reach, you can use a toothbrush to scrub the molds off

Keep in mind, fungi and dry rot love a moist environment.

They may thrive there and can cause severe damage if left uncontrolled.

So, before you plan to paint the floor tiles in your bathroom, you need to inspect for the mold/fungi and scrub them off completely.

Should You Get Old Paint Off the Tile Floor Before Painting?

Yes, if you have old paint on your bathroom tiles it’s good to remove it off and paint fresh to get the best finish.

Floor tiles for the bathroom are designed to be sturdy, and for this reason, they can easily stand up to any kind of paint remover including harsh chemical cleaners.

However, since you are working on the old backsplash tiles and not the new ones, you should consider their present condition.

Based on the condition you can either use commercial paint remover or a natural homemade solution (water and white vinegar) for stripping off the old tile paint.

For getting rid of old paint you can follow these steps:

  • Rinse and clean your bathroom floor using a mop and allow it to dry
  • Using a clean cloth rub the paint remover on the spot you intend to take the paint off
  • If the paint is tough, take a soft dampened brush (or sandpaper) and gently rub over the paint on the tiles

The bottom line

As you can see, repainting your tile floor in the bathroom is a great way to update them without replacing them.

Plus, it isn’t that hard to do.

IMO, one of the greatest advantages of painting tile floors is you can customize them as you want.

For example, you can even paint them to look like wood.

Although it may take a little time and patience, you can for sure do it within a week or a couple of days at an easy pace.

Make sure you use the right tools and paint that can easily withstand the conditions in your bathroom.

I hope that this little guide helps you with your own project and that your tile floor will be brought back to life with a simple paint coat!

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