Can Porcelain Floors Be Painted?

Written by sarabeth asaff
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Can Porcelain Floors Be Painted?
Porcelain floors can be painted for a fresh look. (Tiled floor image by Simon Amberly from Fotolia.com)

Floor tiles that are in good shape, but a colour that is not working well with the decor, may benefit from a coat of paint. Porcelain tiles are one of the most durable and long-lasting products on the market today, so it makes sense that their colour will be out of date before the tiles require removal. The key with painting porcelain is to understand the finish of the tile and to use the correct type of paint.

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Porcelain Tiles

Porcelain tiles are made of compressed clay dust that is fired to extremely high temperatures, rendering the tiles extremely dense, hard and durable. The tiles are nonporous and may be textured, matt or polished in finish.

Since the tiles are nonporous, they can be painted. Because they will not absorb any of the paint, the type of paint used must be taken into consideration along with the surface texture of the tiles.

Types of Paint

Oil-based paints will give the best result on a porcelain tile. Oil paints are more likely to bond permanently to the surface of the tile, without washing away during normal maintenance. If oil-based paints are not available, urethane-based paints can be used. In either case, a top coat of clear urethane can help protect the tiles' new finish from wear.

Paint and Porcelain Finishes

Porcelain tiles with a matt, or flat, finish will accept paint easier than other finishes will. Most matt-finish porcelain tiles actually have a very slight amount of texture that can help to grab and hold the paint, while still allowing a brush to glide easily over the surface. Polished porcelain tiles are extremely slick and may require more coats of paint to fully cover their surface without streaking.

Textured porcelain tiles will be the most difficult to paint. Multiple ridges, dips and holes score the surface of the tile, all of which must get an even coat of paint to achieve the best look. Using a foam paintbrush may assist.

Preparing the Tiles

Before beginning to paint any floor tiles, make sure they are clean. Since the tiles are nonporous, the paint needs to bond with the surface of the tiles. Grease, dust or debris can interfere with this bond, so making sure the tiles are both clean and dry before beginning is crucial.

Painting the Tiles

While you can also paint the grout joints while painting the porcelain tiles, for the most realistic look, keep the grout a different colour than the tiles. Grout paints are available if you wish to brighten the colour of the grout at the same time; otherwise leave the grout alone to make the tiles appear new and not fake.

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