Q&A / 

How To Paint Ceramic Tile

Paint Ceramic Tile

Want to know how to paint ceramic tile? As crazy as it sounds you can paint a ceramic tile floor like this. The key is using the right paint and covering the paint with clear urethane. © 2018 Tim Carter

"Apply floor tile paint after cleaning the tile with Stain Solver oxygen bleach. Use a urethane-based paint for best adhesion. Clear coat the paint to protect it."

Revised May 2018

Painting Ceramic Tile TIPS

DEAR TIM: Can you instruct me how to paint ceramic tile? Money is very tight now, and applying ceramic tile paint is the only thing I can afford. Can you paint tile, so it will not peel?

Is there a special ceramic-tile paint? What is an easy way to paint ceramic floor tile, and should I paint the grout? Leslie S., Belleville, IL

DEAR LESLIE: I'll gladly help you discover how to paint ceramic tile. If you've painted walls and even flooring before, you can do this job. The best part is you can really transform the look and feel of a room when you paint ceramic tile.

Can You Paint Tile?

Any ceramic tile can be painted no matter if it is old or new. The most important thing is to make sure the tile is perfectly clean.

Many people ignore the instructions on paint cans. If you take a few moments to read these instructions, you'll discover that they tell you to apply the paint to clean, dry surfaces that are free of grease, wax, dirt, and dust.

CLICK HERE to get FREE & FAST Bids from local painters to paint your ceramic tile.

How to Paint Ceramic Tile

Follow these easy steps to get the best results from ceramic tile paint:

  • deep clean the tile and grout
  • purchase urethane-resin water-based paint
  • add a small amount of flow-control additive to the paint
  • use a low-nap roller and high-quality brushes

What is the Best Tile Cleaner?

Oxygen Bleach

Stain Solver is MADE in the USA with USA ingredients that are food-grade quality. CLICK THE IMAGE to order some NOW.

You can clean ceramic tile with just about any soap, but the more powerful ones often give you a better job. The tile and grout need to be free of all dirt, oil, grease, etc. for the paint to have a chance to bond.

The best tile and grout cleaner I have ever used is Stain Solver certified organic oxygen bleach. It's Made in the USA with USA ingredients.

This is a powder that you mix with hot tap water. You apply a generous amount of the solution and let it soak into the grout.

Millions of oxygen bubbles attack the dirt.

The longer you allow the Stain Solver solution to work on its own, the less you have to scrub.

After a 10 to 15-minute wait, scrub the grout with the excess oxygen-bleach solution. You'll be stunned how much gunk comes out of the grout. After it dries, it should look like new. If you plan to also paint the grout, you must let the grout dry for at least 48 hours.

WATCH this video to see how easy it is to do.

What Floor Tile Paint Is The Best?

The best ceramic tile paint is one that has a urethane resin. The resin in the paint is what allows it to stick to things. Urethane is extremely sticky.

To ensure that the new paint will not peel, you need to use the right paint. In the past, I have had great success with oil-based paint. Pollution laws that address volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in paint make it harder and harder to find oil paints. It's important to realize urethane paint is the next best choice.

Many people also do not like the clean-up process that comes with oil-based paints. You need to use mineral spirits or paint thinner to clean the brushes, rollers and other tools.

Water-based paints that contain a urethane resin make a great ceramic tile paint.

Urethane-fortified paint

Here's a great urethane-fortified paint. That's why on the label it says it's for porches and floors! It's tough enough to walk on so you know it will perform really well on your vinyl siding where no one can walk except squirrels. CLICK THE IMAGE NOW TO have this paint delivered to your home.

Urethane is a very sticky glue, and after all, that is what paint really is - a liquid glue that contains color. You really need a sticky paint to adhere to the glossy surface of most ceramic tile.

Can I Paint Tub and Shower Tile?

Do not paint tub and shower tile. The constant exposure to water and the aggressive cleaning of these surfaces can cause damage to the paint.

There are places where I'd not apply paint to ceramic tile or other glazed surfaces. Don't apply it to ceramic tile that gets wet on a regular basis.

Examples of this are tile surfaces inside a tub or shower area. I'd also not paint the inside glazed surface of a toilet bowl.

You can successfully paint a ceramic-tile backsplash that gets occasional water on it. The ceramic-tile floor in a bathroom can also be painted so long as the water sports in the bathroom don't get totally out of control.

CLICK HERE to get FREE & FAST Bids from painters to paint your ceramic tile.

Should I Clear Coat the Paint?

Yes, it's best to apply a clear water-based urethane to the paint just as you'd apply urethane to a hardwood floor.

To keep the paint on the tile looking like new, you need to protect it. This is especially true if you decide to paint ceramic floor tile. Painted floors of any type work well, and proof of that is any basketball court. Painted basketball courts are created by painting the patterns on the floor, let the paint cure for two days and then coat the entire floor with several coats of clear floor finish.

I've found that the water-based urethanes stay clear for a long time, never yellowing. Price is almost always the best barometer of quality.

Look for a water-based urethane that costs the most money. I've had great success over the years with Varathane Diamond Coat urethane.

Polyurethane Paint

Use this heavy-duty polyurethane to protect the paint. The urethane works just like putting it on hardwood floors! CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER IT NOW.

Can You Paint Grout?

Yes, you can paint grout. The paint will stick very well to the rough grout texture.

As for painting the grout, that's a personal decision. There's no doubt it will make the job easier if you paint the grout the same color as the tile.

If you do want a contrast in color, then you'll be painstakingly taping off the grout lines with the special acrylic masking tape that will not stick to fresh paint.

If you want natural grout and need to regrout, do so before you paint. The regrouting process will damage the freshly-painted tile. Keeping paint out of grout requires great skill and patience.

What is the Best Paint Roller for Ceramic Tile?

I suggest a roller with a low nap to keep bubbles and texture to a minimum.

You can also add products to the paint that allow them to flow well and attain a finish as if they had been sprayed.

Paint Additive

This is a great paint additive you use to eliminate brush strokes. It reduces the surface tension in the paint. CLICK THE PHOTO NOW TO HAVE THIS DELIVERED TO YOUR HOME.

If you have a sprayer, you absolutely can spray the tile. Be sure to protect adjacent surfaces from overspray.

Make sure the urethane you use to protect the paint is applied to a clean dust-free surface. Read the paint-can label to see how soon you can apply the urethane. It is best to let the paint cure as long as possible so it gets nice and hard. This will make it more durable.

CLICK HERE to get FREE & FAST Bids from painters to paint your ceramic tile.

Author's Note: We've received other questions with similar problems or questions. Here's one from E.J. Vincent of California regarding her ceramic tile painting project.

"I want to paint my own design onto ceramic tile, like the ones you would buy at Home Depot. Is there a special ceramic tile paint and sealer I need to use? The ceramic tiles will be incorporated in with the same unpainted tiles on the kitchen cabinet top and backsplash."

Message from Tim: Years ago while researching a column about cleaning decks, I discovered the wonders of Stain Solver Oxygen Bleach. It is perhaps the 'greenest' cleaner I know of as it uses oxygen ions to break apart stains, dirt and odor molecules. There are no harsh chemicals, and it works on just about anything that is water washable.

I decided to create my own special blend using ingredients made in the USA. In fact, the raw materials in the active ingredient are food-grade quality registered with the FDA. I call my product Stain Solver. I urge you to use it to help with cleaning your tile grout. You will be amazed at the results!

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Floor Tile Paint - Use Urethane Paint and Oxygen Bleach
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Floor Tile Paint - Use Urethane Paint and Oxygen Bleach
Ceramic tile paint can be applied by anyone. Floor tile paint is the easiest to do. Clean the tile first.
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82 Responses to How To Paint Ceramic Tile

  1. I have recently purchased a new house that has non slip tiles on the outdoor pation areas. These tiles are extremely hard to clean. Forgetting about the non slip part of the tile is there a paint suitable to cover these new tiles that would make them easier to clean?


    • Rod,

      You should NEVER paint them. That's a mistake. Try my Stain Solver. It's an unbelievable cleaner I developed back in 1996. You mix it, pour the solution on the tile, let it sit for 15 minutes and scrub. Then rinse. It's an amazing cleaner.

  2. Thanks for the tips. Would this apply to sea glass tiles as well for a backsplash? I have a beautiful sea glass backsplash but it does not match the counter tops and I want to paint them until I can replace it.

  3. I am going to be creating a community art project where we will be using ceramic tiles to create a mural. My concern is that these tiles will be outside (on a wall) and I have no idea of what paint and coating to use to ensure that the paint won't chip due to the weather. I am also concerned about the paint being safe for the kids to use. Can you give me some advice?

  4. I have white grout & ceramic tile in the living room and want to paint them a grayish color. This is a high traffic area, will the paint hold up to my cleaning them every 4 days?

      • I'm confused. Your article is all about painting tile, and then you say it won't hold up. Is it just because the question here is about a high traffic area? I want to paint my bathroom and kitchen tile. I don't clean and mop very often. LOL The bathroom has white tile - ugh - and the kitchen is saltillo tile. The article also says it's okay to paint the grout the same color as the tile, but then in your comments you say to not paint the grout.

  5. I want to paint the tiles around my fireplace (about 7 extra-large files in total). They are currently an orange-y marble-like color and I want to paint them pale gray or white. Is this do-able over an orange/marble like tile? Also, the tiles they are super-shiny, is that easy to paint over and/or does that make a difference? I want to you a paint with a "grit" (i.e. rough surface) so it looks like stone and not just flat/shiny tiles. Any advise, appreciated!! Thank you!

  6. My tiles at my entryway get very slippery when feet are wet I would like to know what I can put on them to stop from being slippery. PLEASE HELP ME!!

  7. My 3,000 sq. ft. house has all tile floors, which is great because we live in the country and have a lot of tracked-in dirt. The previous owners chose a pale beige, and every speck of dirt is visible. I was injured and just cant keep up with it anymore, but changing out the tile is too costly. Are there products available to change the appearance, and are there contractors who specialize in this? I dont know where to begin.

  8. I have a 450 sqm swimming pool i want to change the ceramic colors and want to add some decorative ceramic and help will be useful

    Thank You

  9. Our tiles on the front porch need a touch up, they have other paint stains on them, we want to paint over the same color, can we do that,

  10. I have tile floors in kitchen an hallway. It stays really nasty because I have four older dogs who stay in the house, with one peeing al the time. I mop with bleach on a daily basis. If I paint it with polyurethane will it seal it so I can use something milder to clean the floor. I have just ordered pee pads for my dogs which should help. Thank you

  11. Hi,I have white ceramic high gloss tile all tgrough my kitchen. It shows dog hair and dirt very easily. If I lightly sand/scuff and clean well, apply the correct paint, will this more than likely hold up in a kitchen? Also, what is the correct paint/finish to use? Thanks!!

    • Painting floor tile is the LAST tile I'd paint. Too much wear. As a last resort, do it.

      Painting is NOT going to eliminate your problems!!!! You'll still have dog hair and dirt!!!

      Use a dry vacuum cleaner once a day for the hair, and use my Stain Solver Certified organic oxygen bleach to keep the tile AND grout looking like NEW.

  12. hi. i have a concrete floor in a side room off my kitchen. i'd like to paint and stencil it but I don't want it looking like a painted garage floor but rather a glazed encaustic tile effect (I don't need the grout lines or anything, just the more refined finished touch without the expense of buying painted cement tiles). any particular paint or process you can suggest to give me the result i desire? thank you!

  13. Hi I have tile in my room and I was wondering if I can do exactly what you said but add glitter. I'd realllllly like to do glitter but I couldn't find anyone to help me with exactly what I want. Please help thank you

    • Yes. You can add glitter! I'd clean the tile. Dry it. Apply a thin coat of water-based CLEAR Varathane urethane. Immediately sprinkle the glitter into it. Wait three hours. Recoat the tile with two subsequent coats of the urethane. Send photos to show us. Do a TEST first on a separate piece of tile that looks like what you have to MAKE SURE you like what you see.

  14. You mentioned to avoid painting over tiles that gets wet consistently. I would like to paint over tiles in my kitchen floor. However, we consistently sweep and mop our floors at least 3 - 4 times a week. Can I still do this over painted ceramic tiles.

      • Question: you stress the importance of sealing painted tile, but then advise not sealing the grout. How do you seal one and not the other? Sitting on your bottom going square by square with a small brush? Please tell me I misunderstood!

  15. I want to paint the ceramic tile on my kitchen floor from a light beige to a dark gray and black sponge effect. Is that doable with the right paint? I also plan to regrout before painting. How does that process work?

  16. Hi.
    I would like to paint small 4inch by 4 inch ceramic tiles to put inbetween my other tiles as a highlighter .
    What paint should I use ? Does the tile need to be fired after that ? Do you know if urethane is available in india ?
    I would really appreciate your help in msking my dream project come true.

  17. Would this work if I was painting my whole bathroom? We're mving into a one bathroom home and it's bright green and pink. The walls and floor are ceramic tile and I absolutely hate it. How long does it take to dry and how many coats of white would I need to do?

  18. I want to paint my splash back in the kitchen so plan to do what you said in your column. I also want to do the bathroom and toilet floor. If you apply enough coats will it hold up against water and a pretty high traffic area??

    • It should stand up if you do everything I said and buy the BEST products money can buy. That said, you need to MAKE SURE the bath floor rarely gets water on it. No small feat if kids are around or water sports are taking place in this tub / shower.

  19. Hi. I have a beautifully tiled kitchen floor. It is checkerboard black and very light tan with black grout. Unfortunately the beauty only lasts for about 15 minutes after cleaning. After fighting it for 11 years, I'm ready for a floor that actually looks clean. I cannot replace the tile at this time so painting would be a perfect solution. My question is, how does the paint hold up on a high traffic kitchen floor? I have 3 teens and 2 dogs...
    Thank you in advance,

    • Painting the tile is NOT going to solve your dirt issue - unless you paint the tile black or a dark brown. Have you thought of having people take off their shoes and leave them at the door? That works for many. If it's stuff falling off counters, a dog is a great cleaner. My dog constantly is *cleaning* our kitchen floor!

  20. Tim, have you ever heard of chalk paint? I plan on painting my tile kitchen backsplash with chalk paint then using the Varathane poly (love this stuff). So we will see how it goes. I have done all my kitchen and bathroom cabinets with the chalk paint and poly but never tile. Worst thing that happens is I end up replacing the tile which I want it done anyway but I am trying to save some cash. Thanks, Janene

  21. Hi,
    For a temporary solution in my bathroom I want to paint the floor because the color is jist aweful. The ceramic tiles however are mosaic. So I have the tiny tiles everywhere which means more grout. Would painting still be an option for me? There are also a few pieces missing in the corners. Is there something I can fill those with before I paint? Thank you

  22. Hi
    Is there a canned spray paint that would work on back
    splash ceramic tile? Seems this would eliminate paint brush
    Thank you

  23. Hi Tim,
    We have chips in our kitchen ceramic floor tiles, near the refrigerator and in front of the kitchen sink. I don't want to paint the entire floor, just fill in the chip marks. can this be done?

    • Jil,

      You were so close. All you had to do was type: chipped tile into my search engine and you would have discovered this past column. Read it and be amazed. Be SURE to sign up for my FREE and funny newsletter to get tips like this each week.

  24. The previous owner of our home installed ceramic tile over the back patio. When wet it is a slip and fall danger to everyone.
    How can I paint over this and add a no slip additive?
    I can not afford to have the tile removed and was hoping for an alternative.
    Thank you for any suggestions

  25. Hi Tim

    I have 12x12 ceramic floor tile as soon as you walk into my house I want to paint over it so you're telling me to clean it first let dry for 2 days then use oil base paint over it I'm painting the tile and grout then I want that too dry and I want to paint a football logo on top of that would I use the same oil based paint different color of course and then apply acrylic sealer on top

  26. I have white 6 inch tiles with white grout in one bath and my laundry room, which is also my mud room that is high traffic. I absolutely hate it. It is so hard to keep clean and the installer never used spacers so the grout is not even between the tiles. I cannot afford to currently replace them. What can I do, would painting be a solution?

  27. Hi Tim,
    I want to paint the tiles around my fireplace. Any suggestions on types of paint? We do burn our fireplace during the winter months.

  28. Hi Tim. I would like to ask of I can paint the ceramic tiles around our swimming pool (walk way) with rubberized paint so it wont be slippery? Thank you.

  29. Hi I'm looking to redo the kitchen and on the wall tiles around the top of the wall I'd like to put my baby's footprints as a border. To do so id have to use baby safe washable paint and press her feet to the tiles before putting them up. How would I seal the washable paint on the tiles? Do you have any other ideas that would help me with the footprint border? Thanks

  30. Hi, I took the shower out of an old wetroom and I would really like to paint the floor tiles as they are a horrible colour. Are these tiles suitable for painting as they are non slip with little bumps on them..thank you

  31. I did not see a reply to Mark who asked about canned spray paint to avoid brush marks. What kind, if any, works for this? If spray paint is not available, how do you suggest applying paint to avoid marks?

  32. Our house has old beige tile throughout the kitchen and laundry room. None of it is cracked or broken. It would be so great if we could paint instead of replace. I need a professional. How can I find one in my area. 78654. Thank you.

  33. Hi tim,
    I'm a little confused about painting the ceramic floor tile in my kitchen.I read that you said it would be fine with oil based paint and varathane sealer.I scrolled down and you said no, not to..I hate this tile, but want to be totally clear about it before I paint it.I love your tips..Thank you Tim.

  34. Any information about National Coatings, Inc. "Superbond" on ceramic tile floor? I'm considering covering (painting) our kitchen floor ceramic tile and grout with this product.

  35. That Varathane paint says its use is on wood. I want to paint ceramic kitchen tile. Is this what I get and does it come in multiple colors?

    Thanks very much.


  36. My tile has a sealer on it, and everyone is telling me it can't be painted. Can it be painted? If not, is there something I can put on it to change the color?

  37. I just found you looking about painting my tiled bathroom floor.
    what wonderful advice. Can't wait to get your newsletter.

  38. Hi Tim!

    I put a backsplash in my kitchen using cheap white ceramic tiles. I didn't grout it, but now I want to paint it. Would it be best to grout it and just paint and seal it? Also, is there any way to give it a sawgrass look? If not, I may want to put in a whole new backsplash using sea glass. Does the wall have to be painted white for a nicer finished look?

  39. You mentioned basketball courts in the article which makes me optimistic. I need to paint a salon floor, very high traffic. Also I don't know the difference between types of tile. These tiles are not shinny. They are matte, does that make a difference? Are they still paintable.

    • It doesn't make a difference. Be SURE to use all the products above clicking the links. It's VERY important to use the floor paints above because they most likely have urethane resin in them.

  40. What paint should I use to refresh approximately 1 square metre of glazed tile outside my front door? There are a few hairline cracks and the tiles are tired and not my choice of colour.

  41. Hi Tim, I want to paint over black and blue bathroom tiles. I want to paint them white. Do I have to use a primer or will the paint you suggest cover?
    Thank you for your handy tips!!

  42. Hello Tim
    I have an outdoor water feature wall approx 25' wide x 12 " high , clad with 36' x 36' black, rough ribbed, ceramic tile. The water come from an infinity pool above . After approx 2 years from the original build and the black tiles became mottled with a whitish effervescence discoloration.
    Now after 4 years ( 2 years later ) the effervescence discoloration is still the same ( it is not getting worse).
    The I have used all kinds of acid and effervescence cleaners , wire brush scrubbing etc...but I can not get rid of the effervescence discolouration .
    I can think of no solution other than painting the tiles to restore them to their original black colour.
    Can you recommend a paint solution that I can use ?

  43. Do I have to sand glossy bathroom wall tile before I paint it ? It’s not in the shower just on the bottom half of the walls in the bathroom

  44. Hi Tim, You mention and show the satin Varathane water-based poly as a topcoat. Varathane makes both this product AND a "Floor" product...the floor product has added aluminum oxide for hardness (I've been researching), but it also only comes in minimum one gallon size and my (bathroom floor) would not take more than a quart at most. Has it been your experience one can use the 'regular' varathane or does one need the floor version? Thanks.

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