Painting Bathroom Tiles

Painting ceramic bathroom wall tiles is a relatively straightforward way to redecorate your tiles on a budget, avoiding the mess and expense of retiling. Often, a lick of paint is all that’s needed to give old or dull bathroom tiles a makeover, although any cracked tiles will need to be individually replaced.

Painting bathroom tiles can be broken down into three steps: preparation, priming and painting.

Step 1 – Preparation

As with any decorating job, it’s essential to properly prepare your surfaces before you begin to paint. This means giving your tiles a really thorough clean, using an effective household cleaning solution or tile and grout cleaner. Use a non-abrasive scrubber pad to remove all traces of dirt and grime, soap scum and lime scale.

If you live in a hard-water area you may need to use a calcium deposit remover. If there are any patches of mold or mildew, clean this off with a product designed to inhibit its growth.

To clean the grout in the joints between the tiles, try using an old nailbrush or toothbrush to reach those tricky bits. If the grout needs to be repaired, allow sufficient time, at least 48 hours, for it to dry before you apply the primer.

At this stage, if you haven’t already done so, it’s a good idea to measure the area you intend to paint so you can work out how much tile paint and primer you will need to buy.

Step 2 – Priming

Once your bathroom tiles are clean and dry, you will need to lightly sand their glossy surface to improve adhesion. Use a very fine aluminum oxide paper so that you get a smooth finish with no unsightly scratches. Once you have keyed the surface of all your tiles, take care to clean off all the dust with a damp lint-free cloth, brush or vacuum.

You can then begin to apply an even coat of primer undercoat, using a brush with synthetic bristles and vertical strokes. Be careful not to overload the brush. Paint each tile individually and leave them to dry for the length of time specified in the manufacturer’s instructions.

Once your tiles are dry, very gently sand them again, and use a lint-free cloth to remove the dust. You can then repeat the process to apply a second coat.

Step 3 – Painting

For bathrooms where there are very high humidity levels, there are two-part epoxy resin products available to use on tiles, as an alternative to primer and paint. These give a hard wearing porcelain-like finish, but tend to come in a limited range of colors. For a better choice of color, it’s perfectly acceptable to use an oil-based gloss paint, which should give a hard, durable and washable finish and be suitable for damp atmospheres.

Apply your gloss paint to the tiles once they’ve been primed, using a natural bristle brush and vertical strokes. Allow it to dry for the required length of time, before applying a second coat for a longer-lasting and better-looking finish. If you want to paint the grout a different color, do this using an artist’s brush.

Your painted tiles should have an attractive finish, and stand up to several more years of use. To protect the painted finish, it’s advisable to avoid using abrasive cleaning products.




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