How to paint bathroom tiles

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It is possible to paint over ceramic tiles but there are a couple of considerations you should bear in mind.  Firstly you are going to lose the tile look as the paint will cover the grout lines.  It is advisable to avoid painting tiles that are constantly exposed to water.  The two major points to remember when painting over tiles are, preparing the surface correctly and using the right type of paint.

Follow these steps as a guide:

Use masking tape around the area you wish to paint to avoid areas you do not want painted being affected. Clean the tile surface with a specific tile cleaner or warm water and a mild detergent. Ensure the surface dry before proceeding. This will help the paint stay on the surface. Sand the tile surface. Ensure you use a fine grit sandpaper and wipe the excess dust away.

Apply one smooth, even coat of primer to the tiles, taking special care to work the paint into the grout recesses. Apply the primer thinly but thoroughly and watch for the appearance of drips and runs. Let the primer set for four hours before going on to step. Apply your first coat of tile paint. As with your primer, make sure you have covered the full surface of the tiles and that you leave no unsightly runs. Allow this coat to dry for at least six hours. Start in the top corner and brush down to create an edge, brush across the surface, this will help prevent overlap with brush strokes. Apply a second coat of paint and allow to dry.

What type of paint to use on tiles?

Epoxy paint : More heat resistant than latex paint and alkyd paints but can deteriorate when exposed to UV.  You can buy epoxy paint specifically designed for tiles. You will need to apply two coats.

Latex paint : Can chip from minimal contact.  Before application of the latex paint you should apply two coats of bonding primer. Ensure the primer is completely dry before applying the latex paint.

Tools and products needed to paint tiles

Tile and laminate cleaner; 240 or 220 grit wet/dry sandpaper (fine); Masking tape (20mm or wider); Paintbrush; Tile and laminate primer; Tile paint; Grout pen; Paint thinner

The first step you must take when painting your tiles is to prepare the area correctly.  You can use abrasive tile cleaner which can help reduce the shiny surface of a tile which in turn makes it a more suitable surface for the tile to stick to.

Check for stains, cracked tiles and crumbling grout and ensure any issues are addressed before you go any further. You should now be ready to give the tiles more treatment to make them more adhesive.  You can do this by using an orbital sander but remember to continue using a fine sandpaper. Once the tiles are clean of dust and have dried from the preparation process you can begin applying your primer.

It is a good idea to use an extra strength primer in order to withstand the extreme humidity that can occur in bathrooms. It is advisable to not cut corners at this stage so don’t be scared to splash out a bit on a decent primer.  You can apply the primer using a brush and a roller.  It is best to use a thin nap roller (the higher the nap the more paint it will hold). Remember to let the first coat dry and then apply the second coat.

Wait for the primer to dry and then take some fine sandpaper (220 grit) and lightly sand the primed surface. The objective here is to remove any little lumps that may have inadvertently appeared on the surface.

In order to build up the overall strength of paint adhesion, you can add multiple thin layers as opposed to one thick and heavy layer.  Ensure each layer of paint has dried before applying the next.

High gloss latex paint is easy to apply and results in a shiny finish however it is not a durable option as it can easily deteriorate from UV exposure. More durable options include high gloss oil paint or semi gloss oil paint.

Ask your local paint supplier for their advice about which cleaners and paints to use and which paint brush to use for professional looking results.

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