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How to Cover Up Ceramic Tile

Updated February 21, 2017

Nothing makes a home look more dated than old, cracked or broken ceramic tile. While the tiles themselves can crack or yellow over time, the grout lines between the tiles are also susceptible to dirt and grime that can be tough to clean. Fortunately there are a number of ways to cover up ceramic tile to give your home a whole new look. Whether you'd prefer to paint the tile or cover it with another finish material, you can refinish tile floors, walls and countertops in just a few hours.

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  1. Sand the surface of the tile with 220-grit aluminum oxide sandpaper. Remove all visible glazing or paint to expose the unfinished surface of the tile. This will allow the paint to bond more effectively with the tile.

  2. Clean the tiles using a vacuum to remove all dust and debris. Wipe the tiles with a damp rag to pick up fine sanding dust that may be left behind.

  3. Prime the tiles using a paint pad or fine-napped roller. Use a latex primer over the entire surface, including grout lines and other joints or voids. Wait for the first coat to dry before applying a second coat of primer.

  4. Allow the primer to dry completely, then apply a semigloss or high gloss latex paint. Apply the paint with a roller or paint pad, then wait for this first coat to dry. Once the first coat has dried, apply a second coat if desired.

  5. Wait two or three days for the paint to dry completely, then coat the entire surface with a water-based urethane topcoat. This material will protect the paint and extend the life of the application.

  6. Pick up loose tiles or chipped sections by hand. Vacuum any remaining dust and debris using a vacuum with a hose attachment to reach into tight spaces between tiles.

  7. Mix an embossing leveller with water according to the directions on the package. Spread this compound over the tiles using a smooth-edged trowel. Fill all grout lines, cracks and other voids until the tiles are hidden completely and the floor is smooth and level.

  8. Allow the embossing compound to dry completely, then check to make sure no texture is visible. For example, you should not be able to make out the outlines of individual tiles. Scrape away bumps or ridges with your trowel to smooth the surface.

  9. Install new flooring over the tile subfloor according to the manufacturer's installation instructions.

  10. Tip

    While paint is an excellent way to cover tile walls or countertops, painting is not recommended for tile floors.

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Things You'll Need

  • Vacuum
  • Sandpaper
  • Latex primer
  • Paint pad or roller
  • Latex paint
  • Water-based urethane sealer
  • Embossing lever
  • Smooth-edged trowel
  • Bucket

About the Author

Emily Beach works in the commercial construction industry in Maryland. She received her LEED accreditation from the U.S. Green Building Council in 2008 and is in the process of working towards an Architectural Hardware Consultant certification from the Door and Hardware Institute. She received a bachelor's degree in economics and management from Goucher College in Towson, Maryland.

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