How to Paint Floor Tiles

You've decided the floor tiles in your home no longer fit the new color scheme and you'd like to fix that with a coat of paint. If you're wondering if applying paint to ceramic floor tiles is a possibility, the answer is yes—by following these tips and using a few careful brush techniques.

Before You Begin: Consider the Moisture Content of the Room

One thing to keep in mind is how much moisture the floor tiles receive. In some rooms, such as a living room, dining room, or bedroom, the chances of the floor getting wet are minimal to none. For a kitchen or bathroom floor, foyer or entry floor, or laundry room, the odds of the floor getting wet increase. When painting floor tiles, it's recommended that the area in front of a kitchen sink or bathroom shower (where there is a high probability of water) remains unpainted as frequent moisture may result in peeling paint.

The items you'll need to complete the project include sandpaper, tile cleanser, epoxy, bonding primer, painter's tape, drop cloth, paint roller or paintbrushes, selected semigloss paint, urethane sealer, and paint thinner, if needed.

Step 1 - Prep Tiles with Sanding and Cleaning

Someone cleaning a tile floor with a mop and soapy water in preparation for painting the tiles.

Before paint can be applied to floor tiles, two things must take place. First, use sandpaper on each tile to remove its coating. Second, the tiles must be cleaned. Sweep and/or vacuum all dirt and debris before proceeding. Next, use a cleanser formulated for floor tile cleaning and scrub thoroughly. You can also use a bleach and water mixture of 1 cup bleach to 1 gallon of water as an alternate cleaning method. Use a dry towel to wipe up excess water and then allow the tiles to dry naturally at their own pace.

Step 2 - Repair Tiles, if Necessary

Once the tiles are clean and dry, do a visual inspection for any cracks, chips, or other imperfections. These will need to be repaired prior to painting. This is best accomplished using an epoxy mixture. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to mix the material and then apply it evenly over the affected area. Keep the epoxy material flush and even so it blends in with the surrounding tile to form a flat and level repair. If you don't smooth it out, it will result in uneven tile surfaces.

Step 3 - Apply Primer

A necessary step to ensure durability of the paint is the application of an epoxy bonding primer over the entire tile floor surface being painted. The primer can be applied with either a roller or a brush. The application of the primer increases the longevity of the paint adhering to the tiles.

Step 4 - Use Painter's Tape to Protect Other Surfaces

In most cases, the ceramic tile is bordered by other types of flooring. To prevent paint from getting on carpet or hardwood flooring, place painter's tape along the border or use a drop cloth.

Step 5 - Paint Application

Depending on the size of the area to be painted, use either a roller or a brush to apply the semi-gloss floor paint evenly over the tiles. Allow the tile to thoroughly dry before going on to the next step. Do not go on to the next step until tiles are completely dry.

Step 6 - Clear Coat Application

To seal the paint onto the ceramic tiles, apply several coats of water-based urethane sealer. Apply the clear coats in thin and even layers, allowing the urethane coating to dry between each application. Like the epoxy bonding primer, do not skip the application of the urethane sealer. Both products are important to sustain the integrity of the paint as well as guard the tile against scratches, scuff marks, and moisture. Allow the clear coat to completely dry before walking on the tiles.

Safety Tips

A paint tray with paint rollers and brushes on a tile floor.

Any time you are working with paint and chemicals, it's extremely important that the room is well-ventilated. Open doors and windows to allow fresh air in. Use fans to help circulate air and remove the fumes from the room.

When using the cleanser or bleach mixture, wear gloves and goggles to prevent the liquid from getting into your eyes and from irritating your skin.

Also wear goggles when painting to avoid any paint splatter or thinner from entering your eyes.