Project Guide

How to Paint Tiles

Clean the Old Tile
Woman washing green and white checkerboard kitchen tile with sponge.

The first step in learning how to paint tiles is understanding that cleaning is essential. Most tiles are in high-use areas, such as kitchens and bathrooms, and subject to grime or soap scum. Use a commercial cleaner and sponge to scrub tiles. Rinse with clear water and allow tile to dry before the next step. 

Tip: Use a degreasing cleaner on kitchen tile backsplashes to make sure they are completely clean.

Repair Chips and Cracks
Someone patching green and white checkerboard tile.

Tile is very durable and looks great for years, however, it can show signs of wear and tear. Before painting tiles, make sure to inspect them carefully. Use a putty knife to fill cracks and chips with caulk. Make sure to scrape away any excess with your knife and wait until the repairs dry before you go to the next step.

Sand the Old Tile
Someone sanding green and white checkerboard tile.

All tile has a layer of glaze. It's hard for paint to adhere to this glaze, so it’s important to remove it. Use a minimum of 100-grit sandpaper to hand sand or machine sand the tile before you paint it. When you are finished sanding, use a damp cloth to wipe away any sanding grit. 

Tip: Use a light hand when sanding to avoid damaging the tile’s surface.

Apply Primer
Woman painting green and white checkerboard tile with primer.

Whether your end goal is hand painted mosiac tiles for a hallway or painted tiles for a backsplash, one of the most important steps in learning how to paint tiles is using a primer. Primers hide any unwanted colors and designs and will help the new paint adhere better to your tiles. Roll the primer on evenly. Use two coats if necessary. Let primer dry before moving to the next step.

Tip: If you are hand painting tiles one at a time, use a small, flat paint brush instead of a roller for more control.

Paint with Epoxy Paint
Woman painting kitchen backsplash tile bright yellow with roller.

Painting tile requires the use of special epoxy paints or tile paints. This paint is made to stick to tile. It is extremely durable and washable. Use a roller to apply paint evenly to the tile. Make sure to paint grout as well. Let the paint dry for 24 to 48 hours until it is completely dry. Add a clear coat of polyurethane if desired.

Tip: When painting tiles with epoxy or tile paint make sure the area is well-ventilated. Wear a paint mask as well as other protective gear.