How to Paint Tile

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How to Paint Tile

For years now I have been painting everything and I mean everything— long before it was the “in” thing to do and before there was special paints to use for the job. Forty years ago people were horrified when they heard that I had painted a metal storm door with latex paint (the paint still looks good on it). I have also painted vinyl flooring, kitchen cabinets and tiles.

I always thought, “If they look ugly anyway and I am going to have to replace them, why not try it? What do I have to lose?”

When I moved into my current house it had the absolute most awful porcelain tiles I had ever seen in the bathroom. I thought, “Why not paint the porcelain tiles?” This was before the decorating shows came up with the idea that you might be able to paint tiles. :) :)

Six years later, they still look great!


Here’s what I did:

  • Sand them lightly
  • Clean well with degreaser – Dow bathroom cleaner or mineral spirits works well
  • Paint with “No Sand”. No Sand is a product found with the paints, which is sometimes used in place of sanding but I use it as a paint “glue” for things like cabinets or tiles.
  • Paint with Kilz (I prefer oil based.)
  • Paint with latex paint. You can use any kind of latex paint. I used flat paint in my bathroom because that is what I already had but I usually prefer semi-gloss or gloss paint for places like that because it is easier to clean.

    I haven’t tried using paint in shower stalls where the water would be hitting it all the time. I’ve only used it on the bathroom walls and kitchen back splashes that had plastic tiles (Yeah, there is such a thing) and it worked fine.


 P.S. Here are some instructions on how to paint a vinyl floor. 


Photo by: jpvargas


  1. Dot Robbins says

    Thanks , I rented a book one time but was a little scared to try it but I tried some on the back board of sink now I will try anything thanks to you you are great love your ideals . thanks Dot

  2. Sherri Spichiger says

    So these techniques would work on vinyl floors? We have the most hideous vinyl flooring in our entry way and just don’t have the money to replace it right now. I’d like to try to paint it to look like stone, but it’s a high traffic area and I’m pretty nervous about it. Any advice?

    • says

      Sherri vinyl floor on an entry way may have a little more wear and tear. But you know if it looks really awful now I always figure how much worse can my painting it make it look. I would sand it good to rough it up and put polyurethane over. Also use the No Sand stuff and primer before. Another thing if you don’t have paint and all on hand you might check into buying some of those peel and stick tiles if it is a small area you are doing. They really work nice to. We have used them in a kitchen with lots of traffic and they stood up well.

  3. Linda Cabler says

    What I would like to know is Can an Armstrong Linoleum or Vinyl tile be painted? We ahve a clilent whose kitchen floor covering is really grungy from age and she cant afford to buy new. If we could paint it for her it sure would be nice.

  4. Nicki says

    I painted my kitchen once. The cabinets were handmade and were an architectural nightmare – crooked doors. I painted kitchen dark blue and then bagged it with white. The cabinets were white already so I took a piece of acetate in the shape of an oval and taped one on each upper cabinet door – then painted the fronts of the cabinets exactly like the walls. Took the oval off and had a nice framed area in white that I painted a set of cherries in the center of each.
    I loved it! So did every woman who came into the house but all the men were kinda undecided on it. Whatever – I did a whole room makeover for under $50 and the blue with bagging hid a multitude of sins on the cabinets.
    The house I’m in now has the linoleum counter tops and I’ve been dying to try painting them – your post might just be the inspiration I need to give it a try.

    • says

      Yes Nancy it latex paint does stick to oil based Kilz or primer. Oil based is best too to use where there is going to be a lot of moisture because it helps seal out the damp and thus prevent mold. The most important thing is the no sand. I wouldn’t do tile, kitchen cabinets or anything like that without no sand. The tile I painted in my bathroom this time has been on for 7 years now and shows no peeling at all. No I don’t have a large family using it all the time but I guess I figured if it would work for even year or two until I could save to have a tile job or something done to the bathroom it was worth it.

      • Jeannine says

        I’m so glad I found your blog. My husband and I are getting ready to put our house on the market, and need to do something for the out dated tile floor in the guest bath, and my kitche cabinets need painting. I am so going to try this. Where can I find the No Sand? I asked a sales associate at Lowe’s, and he just looked at me like I was crazy. I just need to know where I can find this product.

        • says

          They carry it at Lowe’s I think the guy didn’t know. They carry it at WalMart too. It is found in the paint department and is a pretty common product. They also have it at any hardware store.It’s been around forever but some younger clerks may not know about it. Look in with the paint things or sandpaper. If you are moving we have a couple of other post that might help you and others. Between us Tawra and I have moved ourselves about 12 times over the past few years so we have it down to an art. Here are the other posts – just scroll down this page of posts of Moving on a Dime and you will see we cover almost everything you need to know about moving.

  5. says

    We built our house 10 years ago, and for the kitchen backsplash I had white tile hand painted with a French design on them. After they were painted, the artist glazed them. However, I would like to change the white tile background to a cream. Can I paint glazed tiles like your article says but still be able to see the handpainted design on them?

    Thank you! Debbie

    • says

      Debbie for something like that I would hate to say because I have never worked with that before but maybe someone else would know. Sometimes paint stores (not a place like Lowes) but a specialty store might be able to tell you better.

  6. Deborah says

    That sounds great. Our laundry room vinyl floor looks terrible…small holes and yucky. Maybe this will give me the courage to try it…if my cautious husband will let me. Thank you!

  7. Deborah says

    Jill, how do you paint linoleum counter tops? Is there anything special besides sanding and the no sand?

    • says

      Deborah if you are doing a counter top they have some special epoxy paint for counters you can get at Lowe’s or some place like that. It is pretty expensive although it is cheaper then getting new counters.

      It also depends on the situation. For example I had a small kitchenette in the upstairs of my old house. We used it when we had our business up there. It was about 50 years old and wasn’t my main kitchen. I did paint it with just latex paint and polyurethane and that was in destructible but it maybe didn’t get as much wear and tear as a regular kitchen.

  8. says

    About 15 years ago, I had my sixty year old bathroom tiles (both the tub/shower enclosure and tiled walls) painted. It was a major process with the sanding, primer, painting and then painting the grout lines bright white after rolling on two coats of paint. Following this, a polyurethane sealant was applied. Two years ago, I noticed that the shower area was beginning to slightly peel where the grout lines had been painted in. I did a few touch-ups by last month decided to repaint all of the tiles including the tiled walls by myself. I lightly sanded, applied two coats of primer, and then painted using two coats of interior/exterior latex paint. After, I will apply polyurethane to seal everything. I was pleased with the original job which held up well and think that this repainting will last as well. The total supplies cost under $200.00. A bathroom remodeling with new tiles by professionals would have cost approximately $15,000.00.

  9. Kelly says

    If you are looking for the tile paint for wet areas like showers and bathroom floor tile I used the ceramic tile paint kit from as it came with a bonding primer, steelwool and gloves for under fourty dollars. Very durable and lasts over 10 years on floors and walls. High gloss only but made the tiles look brand new.

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