The best way to update ceramic tile in the bathroom without removing the tile

Written by sarah schreiber
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The best way to update ceramic tile in the bathroom without removing the tile
Update old bathroom tile with a coat of paint. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Popular tile colours of the 1970s like pale yellow and olive green make a bathroom seem outdated. Remodelling can be hard work, and the idea of ripping down all of the ceramic tile may seem overwhelming. The best way to update ceramic tile in the bathroom without removing it is to paint it. A coat of paint over the old tile can bring your bathroom into the modern age.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Oxygen bleach
  • Scrub brush
  • Dust sheet
  • Painter's tape
  • Oil- or water-based paint
  • Roller

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  1. 1

    Clean the entire surface of the tile to remove all dirt and grease. Tim Carter, a builder and nationally syndicated newspaper columnist, recommends using oxygen bleach, which is a powder that mixes with water. Apply the solution and let it sit for 10 minutes, then scrub the tiles and grout with a scrub brush.

  2. 2

    Let the tiles and grout dry for at least 48 hours.

  3. 3

    Prepare the area around the ceramic tile for painting. Place a dust sheet on the floor and use painter's tape to block off the border between the wall and the ceramic tile, if necessary.

  4. 4

    Apply a coat of either oil-based or water-based paint. If using water-based paint, be sure it contains a urethane resin. Rollers provide the best way to apply the paint on a large surface area of ceramic tile.

  5. 5

    Wait for the first coat to dry and apply a second coat if necessary.

Tips and warnings

  • For dark-coloured tiles, apply an adhesion primer first, before painting.
  • To keep a tiled effect, run a thin brush along the grout lines to keep the area defined.
  • Painting tiles is only recommended in an area that does not get wet such as ceramic tile walls or backsplashes. Do not paint tiled showers as it will not last very long.

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