Painting ceramic tile on your shower’s wall and floor was once considered a bad idea. But by using proper tools, paint, and techniques painting ceramic tile is a viable option.
Whether your ceramic tile requires a facelift or you just want to change the color and look of your bathroom, painting your tile is definitely something to consider. With proper sealant and maintenance, painted tile can last for many years.
This article will cover what you need to know in order to properly paint your shower’s ceramic tile whether it be floor or wall tile. And how to give your paint job the longest life possible.
Things to Consider Before Painting Shower Tile
Maintenance and Touch-Ups
Even the best quality waterproof paint will require touch-ups in order to maintain a beautiful finish. The need for maintenance will vary and depend on how heavily your shower is used. Your ceramic tiles may maintain an excellent finish for a year or many years. But eventually, the paint will require a touch-up, reseal, or additional coat.
Grout is a major concern when you decide to paint shower tile. You can choose to paint over the grout or not, and both decisions have their own benefits and drawbacks. Painting over the grout is easier but can cause you problems once the grout cracks or needs to be replaced. Not painting your grout can lead to a more difficult paint job but allows for easier grout maintenance.
When it comes to shower finishes, you have many options at your fingertips. There are shower wall panels that have a variety of finishes with little maintenance. Using stone gives you more durability with comparable maintenance. Or simply leaving your tiles unpainted, depending on their condition, can work perfectly fine.
Waterproof Paint for Shower Tiles
When painting tile in your shower, the type of paint you choose is a critical decision. Different types of paint have been created to use on specific materials.
Since your shower is one of the wettest and moisture-prone areas of your home, waterproof paint will be your only option. Make sure the paint you use is waterproof and not water-resistant paint. An added bonus would be to find waterproof paint with anti-mold or anti-fungal properties.
Types of Shower Tile Paint
Waterproof epoxy-based paint is one of the most popular solutions for painting ceramic shower tile. This is due to epoxy’s durability and cost-effectiveness.
Epoxy is usually a two-part system that must be mixed before it can be applied. The disadvantages of epoxy are that it can be slippery when wet, and cracks or chips can form on high-impact areas such as the floor.
Epoxy paint can take from 24 to 72 hours to fully cure.
Spray paint may be considered an odd choice to paint your tile. But if you are looking for a quick facelift or a temporary fix, spray paint is a good choice.
Spray paint is the least expensive and most straightforward option available. Additionally, spray paint comes in epoxy and latex enamel varieties. But spray paint will never have the level of quality and durability as regular paint.
Spray paint can fully cure between 8 and 24 hours.
Latex Enamel Paint
Latex enamel paint is an excellent choice for any bathroom application.
Latex enamel paint is great at handling water and is naturally resistant to mildew. In addition, latex enamel can be applied directly to your ceramic tiles without the need for primer. The problem with latex enamel paint is that it is usually toxic, has a very long curing time, and can be the most expensive option on this list.
Latex enamel paint can take anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks to fully cure.
Acrylic-based paint is in itself not waterproof but water-resistant. But once a sealant is applied over the acrylic-based paint, it can then become fully waterproof. Without a primer, acrylic paint can give out quickly in a shower setting. On the plus side, acrylic paint dries quickly, is easy to clean up, and is non-toxic.
Acrylic paint can dry within 20 minutes but may take up to 3 days to fully cure.
Painted Shower Tile Before and After
The following images show the before and after results of painting shower tiles.
How to Paint Shower Tile
Painting shower tile is not drastically different from painting any wall in your home. There are a few special considerations that need to be made. But otherwise, you should treat this paint job just as you would any other.
Your choice in tools and materials, along with the type of paint you choose, is just as important as how well you can actually do the work at hand.
Tools & Materials
- PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) – This should include gloves, a dust mask, and protective eyewear.
- Primer – If required, some paints such as latex enamel require no primer.
- Sandpaper – Sandpaper with a minimum of 100-grit is required.
- Painters Tape – Painters tape is relatively inexpensive, and you should purchase more than you think you need.
- Plastic Sheeting – If you feel it is necessary to cover your tub or bathroom floor in case of spills.
- The Paint of your choice
- Paint Brush – A paint roller or spray gun can be used as well.
- Tile Sealant – Though sealant is not required in most cases, it is highly recommended and will extend the life of your paint job.
Preparation is often the most time-consuming and tedious aspect of the entire paint job. But taking the time and effort to do proper preparation will get an amazing end result.
Begin by cleaning your tiles. Make sure your tiles are thoroughly cleaned, and all mildew and soap scum is removed. Having a clean surface will ensure that your paint is applied smoothly and evenly. This is followed by gently sanding your tiles. You should also use a small brush to remove any grit or grime from your grout.
Once you have cleaned and sanded your tiles, wipe them down. This should give you an excellent surface for fresh paint. Continue preparation by applying painter’s tape to your fixtures and anything else you do not wish to paint. Laying out plastic sheeting over your tub or on the bathroom floor outside your shower can be done to prevent any accidental spills.
As mentioned previously, painting or not painting your grout will affect your paint job and the future maintenance of your bathroom. By using high-quality paint along with a sealant, you can protect your grout and extend its life. By painting over your grout you gain a seamless look, but you may have additional work in the future if your grout ever needs to be replaced. Additionally, painting over the grout that is already in bad shape may cause the grout to deteriorate even faster. Ultimately, painting over your grout should depend on the current state of your grout.
Once you have decided whether or not to paint over your grout, equip your PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). Then simply apply the primer if necessary, then paint your tile evenly, smoothly, and thoroughly. You may need to apply two or three coats of paint to get an acceptable finish. A brush is more effective in painting smaller areas, while a roller or spray gun is more beneficial to use in larger showers unless you decide to use spray paint. Let your paint dry for a minimum of 24 hours before applying any sealant.
Once you have finished the painting process, be mindful of the time it will take for your paint job to fully cure. Just because the paint has dried does not mean that it is fully cured. Depending on the type of paint that you choose the curing process make take days or even weeks. You should make proper accommodations while your shower is out of commission, whether it be another bathroom in your home or a shower elsewhere.
Plastic shower walls can be painted but require a specialty plastic primer to be used as a bonding agent so the paint will set properly.
Yes, tile paint can peel off. If no sealant was applied over your paint or if you only applied a single coat of paint, water will cause your tile paint to peel. Reapplying sealant as needed will prevent peeling in your tile paint.
This will depend on the person and on the type of paint you choose. Epoxy paint will feel quite smooth on your feet but can be slippery. Ceramic tile is naturally tough on your feet and joints so a coat of paint should lessen the impact.
Depending on how well you re-seal your paint job, your painted tiles may last anywhere from 1 to 10 years. But, eventually, water will have a damaging effect on your paint.
As long as you have done a paint job in the past, you should have no problem doing this job yourself, saving you money in the process.