How to paint bathroom wall tiles

Written by sara melone
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How to paint bathroom wall tiles
Painting bathroom wall tile is the most cost effective way to remodel. (paint brush 2 image by jimcox40 from

Tiles in the bathroom are often chosen for their durability, lasting strength and inherent quality. When a homeowner gets tired of a particular colour or pattern of tile however, it can be one of the more difficult design elements to change in a bathroom. Short of demolition, there's not much that can be done to change tiles. Well, with a few key steps, any homeowner can paint her tile walls to completely change the look of the bathroom.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Scrub brush
  • #220 fine grit sandpaper
  • Tile cleaner
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Paint brush or roller

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  1. 1

    Prepare the bathroom wall tile with a thorough cleaning. It's best not to apply paint in an area where tile is exposed to frequent water, but if you choose to do so, be sure the tile is completely cleaned of hard water deposits and soap scum. Use an oxygen bleach cleaner or lime remover to scrub the entire wall, including the grout between the tiles. Use a stiff nylon brush or steel wool pad, and apply moderate pressure to be sure the surface is totally clean and free of any residue, mould, mildew or soap scum. Rinse and allow to dry.

    How to paint bathroom wall tiles
    Use a stiff nylon brush or heavy duty steel wool pad to clean the tiles. (scrubbing the blues image by emmepi from
  2. 2

    Scratch the top surface of the tiles using a #220 fine grit sandpaper to scour the whole surface of the wall. Fine grit sandpaper will not show noticeable scratches in the surface of the tiles, but it will create a rougher surface to allow better paint adhesion. You can sand the wall by hand or use an orbital or belt sander, but failure to complete this step means the paint will not be able to stick to the tile and will likely peel off quickly. Wipe down the surface of the tile with a damp cloth to remove any dust, and allow the tile walls to sit undisturbed for at least 12 hours to dry completely.

    How to paint bathroom wall tiles
    Fine grit sandpaper will lightly scratch the tile and allow better paint adhesion. (sandpapier image by Thomas Aumann from
  3. 3

    Apply paint primer to the tiles using a roller or brush, and be sure to use quality primer designed to stand up to moisture and resist mould and mildew growth in damp areas such as bathrooms. Allow the primer to dry, and lightly sand the surface with the sandpaper. Remove the dust, and apply a second layer of primer. Finish with the application of the finish coat of paint. Choose an oil-based paint if possible, since oil-based paint provides smoother coverage, fills in tile cracks and is less likely to fade or peel, like water-based or latex paints can.

    How to paint bathroom wall tiles
    Choose an oil-based paint that will provide better adherence to the tile. (paint image by jeancliclac from

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