Worried about the ceramic tiles in the kitchen getting old – it’s time to do something about it!
While ceramic tiles in your kitchen are long-lasting, they are still subject to wear and tear which can dull their appearance over time.
However, before you decide to rip it out and replace it with a new ceramic tile (which can be an expensive proposition), you may want to consider painting it instead.
Painting ceramic tiles in your kitchen will not only allow you to restore them to new ones but also to easily change the color you want – without getting them replaced.
You can in fact paint over existing tiles as retiling your kitchen can be troublesome and can cost you much.
The thing you need to remember is that there are only a specific variety of tiles that can be painted, provided they are not subjected to water or too much wear.
So, it’s best to get the confirmation whether you can paint over them or not.
How to Paint Ceramic Tile in Kitchen?
You can paint ceramic tile in most places and several coats will provide additional protection to help it last even longer.
All this can be accomplished at a fraction of the cost compared to replacing it.
Care that the tile that is directly exposed to moisture, such as the floors of bathrooms, the surfaces in a shower, and kitchen countertops are not good places to paint.
The moisture will cause the paint to bubble up and peel usually in a matter of a few weeks.
However, other surfaces that are not directly exposed to moisture make good candidates for painting.
What follows is a simple guide to help you paint the ceramic tile so that it lasts for a long time.
Things You Will Need
You will need the following items:
- Regular & Scrub Sponge
- Abrasive Tile Cleaner, Drop Cloth, and Painter’s Tape
- Bonding Primer, Paint Tray, and Latex Paint
- 200-grit Sandpaper, Dust Mask, Paintbrush and/or Roller
You can also use an orbital sander which will help speed up the sanding process.
Plus, have some water around for cleaning purposes.
Steps for Painting Over Ceramic Tile
When you have collected all the above materials, you are now ready to give a new finish to your ceramic tiles in the kitchen.
Ready to get started with the steps? Let’s dive in!
Step 1- Prepare The Tiles
While ceramic tile can be painted, it does need to be prepared.
This means having to remove the dirt, debris, and film that covers the tile.
Ceramic backsplash tiles that are glazed make it less likely that paint will stick to them, so they will need to be sanded.
However, the glazed tile is easier to clean, and then the sanding process should remove the rest of the dirt.
- Open the windows
- Apply abrasive cleaner to the tile
- Use a scrub sponge to remove grime from tiles and grout
- Rinse with water and damp sponge after 20 minutes or so depending on product instruction
Let dry for several hours, now you are ready to sand.
- Use 200-grit sandpaper or orbital sander and put on a dust mask
- Sand entire surface
- Wipe away tiles with a damp sponge and wait until fully dry
You usually have to wait about 30 minutes or so.
Check to see when the tile is dry and ready for adding the primer.
Step 2- Apply The Primer
Using a primer is very important when painting ceramic tile.
The primer will not only help the paint stick to the surface but will also help repel the moisture which may build up.
You’ll need to use a bonding primer so that it will properly stick. Now you are ready to begin.
- Place a drop cloth on the floor and painter’s tape to cover trim on doors and windows, towel bars, etc.
- Remember to open up the windows to provide good ventilation
- Use a small amount of bonding primer and apply it to a small area of tile and grout. Let it dry.
This is an important step because if the primer starts to bubble up or simply not adhere to the surface, then you’ll need to clean the area again.
It’s better to try a small area first then paint the whole thing and watch it peel away.
- If the primer sticks, use a brush or roller to apply it to the rest of the tile
- Let the primer dry as per instructions on the can
Step 3- Paint the Ceramic Tiles
With the primer fully applied and dried, you are now ready to hand paint your ceramic backsplash tiles in the kitchen.
Steps for painting are as follows:
- Stir and pour paint into a paint tray
- Roll or brush a single coat of paint on the tile surface – aim for even coverage
- Let the paint fully dry
- If paint instructions recommend, sand lightly between coats
- Use a damp cloth to wipe away residue
- Apply a new coat of paint
You should have two coats of paint along with a coat of primer.
This will work to protect the tile in areas where moisture is not all that present.
In places such as near the countertops, you may want to apply several coats of a polyurethane sealer which will create a moisture-resistant surface.
This will also protect from the black soot due to the smoke in the kitchen.
What Kind of Paint to Use On Ceramic Tiles?
Remember that a tile surface will require a gloss or semi-gloss paint which is easier to stick and clean.
So, choosing the right kind of paint to use on ceramic tiles is important.
When choosing the right paint, you have three options.
1- Latex Paint
Acrylic latex kind of paint can be found easily at your local hardware store.
For these to work as desired, you need to sand off the high-gloss finish of ceramic tiles before applying the paint.
If applying the paint on vertical surfaces like tiled walls and backsplashes it’s good to apply 1-2 coats of bonding primer which allows the paint to adhere properly.
2- Oil-based Paint
Unlike latex paints, oil-based alkyd paints or enamel paints will stick wonderfully to the ceramic tiles.
Make sure you put multiple coats to get the best glossy finish you desire to have.
After you have applied the oil paint on the tiles allow enough time to dry them completely.
Also, do not allow your housemates to use plumbing around the freshly painted tiles for a day.
3- Epoxy Paint
Two-part epoxy paints (like Rust-Oleum Tub & Tile) are designed for tiles, and other hard surfaces that can be difficult to paint.
While following the instructions carefully, apply two coats and allow the drying time as recommended by the manufacturer.
Again, tiles used in the kitchen are mostly glazed and shiny, hence make sure you choose the specific tile paints that are easy to stick directly on them with very little need for priming or undercoating.
Although the available color range may be limited, make sure that you choose a good brand for getting the perfect finish and durability.
Keep in mind that you do not use any kind of water-based paints like chalk paints on tiles as its not stable and can chip or bubble out soon.
Can You Stencil on Ceramic Tile for Added Style?
YES, providing a nice stencil treatment to your kitchen tiles is a popular touch when painting ceramic tile.
It will allow you to change the look of your bathroom or kitchen depending on the pattern that you choose.
Once the backsplash tile has been painted to the desired color, you can purchase tile stencils that match the size and shape of the tile itself.
You will need to obtain a different color for the design of the stencil.
- Apply the stencil to the tile, secure with Painter’s tape, and paint with the desired color
- Use a stencil brush for fine details. Otherwise, a standard brush or roller will work
- Stencil until the entire surface is finished and let dry
- Once fully dry, apply a polyurethane sealer that is clear. Let dry and apply several coats
Once the sealer is fully dry, you will have an attractive stencil design pattern on the tile that will really make it stand out.
Keep in mind that painting and stenciling tile costs a fraction compared to ripping out and replacing the surface with a new backsplash tile.
But the best part is that you can better customize the appearance of the ceramic tiles to your liking – get them to look like stone, brick, slate, or any other design.
How Long Does the Tile Paint Last in Kitchen?
Under normal conditions, ceramic tile paint on your kitchen walls or floors can last anywhere ranging from 6 months to 2-3 years.
The paint will generally begin to flake or chip depending on your lifestyle and use.
For instance, if it’s too much exposure to moisture or water, it may eventually wear down sooner than you may think because of mold and mildew that may thrive.
Also keep in mind, if you spot black mold in bathroom walls or ceiling, you should remediate it first before applying any paint.
The Bottom Line
Overall, priming and painting the ceramic tiles in your kitchen is an excellent way to freshen up the look of your kitchen very quickly.
Make sure that you choose the right tools & materials and follow the painting guidelines well so that you do not end up getting the messed-up look that you do not love to have.
If you are looking forward to long-term durability, tile replacement can be the best solution, although it’s expensive.
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for more than a decade to serve the customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques that are being implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.
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