Can I Paint Bathroom Tile?

Can I Paint Bathroom Tile?

I was recently looking for information on the internet, to see if it was possible to paint bathroom tile. There certainly are quite a few contradictory opinions on this subject, depending on which website you are looking at.

Some people insist that you can’t paint tile in areas that get a lot of moisture. However, my conclusion after considerable research is that if the surface to be painted is properly prepared, and the type of paint used is carefully chosen, it is even possible to paint bathroom tile in a shower stall.

Before I go into the conflicting advice given on various websites, let me point out that I was looking for DIY methods. Professional painters have the resources and skills to do a much better job of painting bathroom tile than most of us.

I ran across an excellent video put out by a California painting contractor. They did the job using a spray painter, and the person doing the job was wearing all-body protective gear. This is not equipment that most of us have on hand. In this article, I will stick to methods that use equipment that is readily available to the do-it-yourselfer.

To paint bathroom tile, there are three main steps:

1) Prepare the surface. The tile surface must first be cleaned. Painting over dirt, grease, or mold is definitely not recommended. Various cleaners can be used – from muriatic acid ( best leave this to the pros ) to household ammonia to TSP ( trisodium phosphate ). Probably any of these solutions will do the job, if used as recommended.

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The next part of the preparation is very controversial. Should the tile surface be sanded or not? Proponents of sanding argue that tiles have a shiny surface, and without sanding, the paint will easily peel right off. And the tiny scratches that sanding leaves on the surface are not noticeable after the paint is applied. The naysayers don’t agree that the scratches are hidden, and suggest using a primer that is made to adhere to any surface.

2) Apply a primer. The choice here is between oil-based and acrylic paints. Professional painters are adamant in their opinion, but they don’t agree with one another. Some recommend 100% acrylic paint, but others just as strongly advocate an oil-base primer. This disagreement among the pros leads me to believe that either choice is probably workable, as long as the surface has been properly prepared.

3) Apply the topcoat. Here again, there is considerable disagreement on the choice of paint with which to paint bathroom tile. Some say that any gloss or semigloss paint may be used if the foundation was properly prepared. And there is a school of thought that advocates epoxy paint, which is naturally waterproof. However, the proper mixing of the two-part epoxy is not a simple task.

A final, additional step to paint bathroom tile is often mentioned. After waiting several days for the topcoat to thoroughly dry, you can seal the paint with a thin layer of transparent polyurethane. This sounds like an excellent idea.