Painting tile has emerged as a recent trend among home design and DIY blogs - it’s a relatively inexpensive way to give old or dull-looking tile a facelift and feeds are filled with cute before and after transformations of plain tile to something fresh! There’s a lot more to painting old tile than you’ll see in a quick video on Youtube! The process can have a major impact on the life of your tile, and even the resale of your house, so before we answer the question “can you paint tile?”, we should ask ‘SHOULD you paint tile?”
Tile Club’s custom painted mosaic tile makes it possible to get the hand-painted tile look you love in high-traffic or moisture-prone areas where paint will not last the same way a tiled surface does.
Can You Paint Tile?
Just because you can do something doesn’t always mean you should, and in the case of “can you paint tile?”, this sentiment rings true in many instances. Here’s what we mean.
The Spruce illustrates the time-consuming nature of hand painted tile designs. Before you decide whether or not to paint tile, be sure you know what’s involved!
While technically you can paint most tile, it should be considered a short-term visual fix for tile in decorative areas. It should not be a solution for revamping a large tiled area that would benefit from being replaced, such as kitchen tile, bathroom tile, or floor tile.
A major factor is what kind of tile material you are painting. For instance, marble tile should never be painted, and paint will have a very hard time sticking to glass tile. You’ll typically get the best results painting ceramic tiles, like those used in the photo above. Like ceramic tile, porcelain tile can also offer a non-porous, matte finish canvas for you to hand paint your desired design onto. However, the painting process can affect the long-term durability of your tile, negating many of the benefits it was originally chosen for.
That being said, it’s completely acceptable to spruce up tile surrounding a fireplace or accent wall in an area away from food, moisture, water, or foot traffic!
With the right stencil pattern, paint color, and a pocketful of patience, you can achieve a gorgeous painted fireplace surround like this stunning fireplace from The Spruce. Non-glazed ceramic tiles were the best canvas for this stencil-painted DIY tiled fireplace design.
Read more: 8 Creative Ways to use Leftover Tiles
Can You Paint Floor Tiles?
Many articles circulating the web give mixed answers to “can you paint floor tiles?” While some are overwhelmingly positive, others say “yes!.. but with limitations.” Some articles suggest that ceramic tile painted floors should be covered by a rug, or, things like “go ahead and paint those floors! But don’t you think about walking on it for two weeks while it dries!” So, while the basic answer to “can you paint floor tiles” is ‘yes’, we’re going to be honest with you; painting floor tiles (or tiles in moisture or water-prone areas) isn’t a great idea for a few fundamental reasons.
Can you paint floor tiles? Paint Positive agrees that painting tile can cause chipping, peeling, fading, and scuffing in a short amount of time when done in high traffic or moisture-prone areas. Most of us are looking for low maintenance scratch-resistant tile flooring, and painted floors are basically the opposite.
Can You Paint Tile? 4 Important Factors to Consider
You’ll Lose Durability by Prepping Tile to Paint
Whether you installed the tile yourself or it was there when you moved in, there’s a pretty good chance that - outside of its visual appeal - the tile was chosen because of its durability, water and scratch-resistance, and low maintenance nature. When painting tile, you first have to sand it down, essentially stripping it of its durability and ability to resist water and moisture.
One of the most attractive qualities of tile is how resistant it is to water and moisture. Sanding it down to paint it can strip your tile of these important qualities.
The sanding process removes your tile’s ability to repel water, and can increase the chances of water damage to your walls and subfloors.
Read more: How to avoid common tile install mistakes
It Can Be Hard to Get The Look You Want
When tackling home renovation projects, it’s easy to feel inspired by what other DIYers are doing to quickly and inexpensively spruce up their pad. What’s often left out of the conversation, though, is the time, effort, and skill needed to achieve the same picture-perfect transformations you scroll through on Pinterest, and painting tile is no exception.
Can you paint floor tiles? If you asked Holtwood Hipster, she would tell you to save yourself the heartache.
Learning how to paint tile may seem easy from a sped-up Reel, but getting the look you have in mind is harder than you might expect. What’s more, most interior paints aren't intended to sit on glazed or polished tile or stone surfaces, so the paint itself won't bond the way it does to a surface like drywall.
The Holtwood Hipster shared that after consulting with paint suppliers about what ceramic tile paint to use for her floor, they tried to talk her out of it! Advice she had later wished she’d listened to after having to remove the paint.
Another factor to consider is painting the grout. You see, grout must be painted with specific tile paint. If you’re painting a large surface, this adds a very tedious, very time-consuming step to your project and is often very noticeable under the tile paint.
Part of learning how to paint tile is also learning how to paint grout, a tedious process requiring special tile paint and a lot of patience! Photo via Pink Little Notebook.
Read More: Ways to Restore your Grout with Sealer
Painted Tile is High Maintenance
Painted tiles are much more high maintenance than regular tiles. Painted tile floors or tile surfaces are harder to clean since the paint can peel, scratch, or be wiped away by household cleaners, not to mention are more sensitive to wear and tear.
Painted tile countertops, for example, cannot have anything hot set down on them since heat can cause the paint to peel or bubble. Similarly, high traffic areas or areas prone to water like bathroom floors or walls will quickly cause the paint to peel off of the tile, which means you’ll need to touch up or redo the tile paint more frequently to keep it looking new & fresh.
Backsplashes behind the stove are typically made of tile material for their ability to be easily wiped clean - whether you’re swiping up cooking grease, spilled wine, or homemade chemistry projects with the kids, you want a surface that won’t easily stain or need heavy scrubbing. Any of those substances can cause staining or discoloration to painted walls, which is the primary reason homeowners avoid them in the first place. A painted tile backsplash kind of becomes an oxymoron when you want a surface that’s easy to clean!
It Can Affect Your Home’s Resale Value
Tile is one of the best flooring choices for a home’s resale value, so when it’s sanded down and painted, it can be a turn-off for potential buyers who wanted a low-maintenance and durable floor (especially if it doesn’t turn the way you’d hoped). While it might seem like an easy fix to slap a new coast of paint before you start to show the house, disclosing that you sanded down the tile in order to paint it is a major red flag to potential buyers, as you’ve stripped the tile of its ability to stand up to water and wear. This is true whether you’re flipping an investment property, or simply thinking about the long term resale value of your own home. Painted tile can give potential buyers a feeling of “one more project” they’ll have to tackle to make it their own, which could not only affect their offer amount but their decision to even put in an offer at all.
If you’re selling your home, you may be better off leaving old tile alone rather than trying to give them a fresh coat of paint. Photo Courtesy of The Home Depot.
What We Recommend Instead of Painting Floor Tiles
Paint Small, Decorative Areas Instead of High-Traffic Areas
If you’ve got your heart set on painting tile or adding a personal touch to your home, we’ve got a few ideas that might pique your interest. For your best chance of successfully painting tile, choose a decorative area away from water, moisture, food splatters, or foot traffic. That's why accent walls or painted fireplace tiles are the most popular DIY home improvement projects - they'll make the most impact and last the longest!
Can you paint ceramic tile? Collective Gen says yes! Here, she demonstrates how it’s done with the right ceramic tile paint and a simple design for her gorgeous decorative DIY project.
Love the look of intricate tile but don’t want to take a chance with paint and stencils? Consider one of Tile Club’s patterned tile, like this Grey Sparkle Waterjet Marble Mosaic!
Kitchen backsplashes are not a great place for painted tile, but a hand-painted tile mural in a hallway or a fireplace surround is a great way to incorporate painted tile into your home! Might we suggest an unglazed Matte Ceramic Subway Tile to use as a blank canvas for your hand-painted creation? If you do plan to use a ceramic tile to paint your own designs, be sure to use the right ceramic tile paint. You’ll typically want to use both an epoxy primer and paint, plus a coat of sealer if you want the paint to stand up to even minimal wear after the paint job is done.
Not only can you paint ceramic tile in the appropriate areas, Tile Club has gorgeous black, dark grey, light grey, and White Matte Ceramic Subway Tile to make your tile painting dreams come to life.
Replace Outdated Tile With New Tile
Considering the extra effort it takes to keep painted tile looking good and you’ll likely be frequently repainting it, why not just replace it with a fresh patterned tile design? Or, if a hand-painted look is what you’re after, Tile Club offers custom-painted mosaic tile, making it easy to get the look you want without the extra work or pesky upkeep. While we understand that ripping out old tile and paying for new tiles and installation is an added expense, it’s typically a 1-time cost for a home upgrade that will last for many years with minimal upkeep and maintenance.
The team at Tile Club can make your wildest dreams come true with a custom-made mosaic tile ideal for high traffic or moisture-prone areas.
This White Frosted Diamond Glass Mosaic Tile perfectly displays how easy it is to transform your space with new tile.
While painting your tile might save you money upfront, when you consider the time and energy spent maintaining your tile to keep it looking fresh, it becomes clear that replacing your tile with new tile you love is a better choice in the long run.
This breathtaking Gold Bouquet Marble Tile will have you and your guests mesmerized with its intricate details and gorgeous color.
Tile Club has an incredible selection of gorgeous, low-maintenance fresh and new decorative tiles designed to add a beautiful element to your home without any of the muss and fuss required of painted tile. We also carry a great selection of peel and stick tile perfect for kitchen or bathroom backsplashes, which can often be a more budget friendly option for quickly revamping a wall tile installation! Our selection of marble, aluminum, or vinyl self-adhesive tile are a much longer wearing option to transform your space than painting tile!
The Carrara Hexagon Peel & Stick Tile is a great, budget-friendly option for giving your backsplash a pick-me-up without having to pick up a paint roller!
At Tile Club, we’re committed to giving you the best tricks, helpful tips, honest answers, and gorgeous tile to make all of your future renovations a success. Whether you’re a diehard DIYer looking to revamp your space or a contractor on a mission to WOW your clients, Tile Club has the knowledge, expertise, and unbelievable selection of tile and tile inspiration to make any renovation idea come to life. Shop today!