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Can You Color Ceramic Tile With Sharpie Markers?

Sharpie is a company that produces permanent markers and pens. These products have become common, and the line has expanded to include oil-based paint pens. Sharpie's website states the pens will work on ceramic and stone and a host of other surfaces. For a paint to work well on a glazed or polished surface, the surface needs to be prepared and usually primed so that the paint will adhere well.

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Surface Preparation

Wash the tile with soap and water. Use a degreaser if the tile has been or is being used on walls or counters in areas where grease is present. Dry the tile thoroughly with a towel or lint-free wipe. If the ceramic tile has a shiny or glazed surface, the paint or marker will have some difficulty adhering to the surface. Lightly abrade the surface using a fine sandpaper in just the areas where colour will be applied. Wipe off all grit.


A design can be drawn onto tile with a pencil if you are good at sketching. For people who aren't so good at drawing, stencils can be used to trace out designs, icons, motifs, patterns and shapes. Tape the stencil to the tile so that the stencil is flat. Press down on the acrylic or paper of the stencil to create a tight edge. Trace around the opening with a mechanical pencil that has a fine edge. Remove the stencil before painting.

Paint Pens

Trace the outline of the design using a fine-tip Sharpie oil-based paint pen. Test out your design on scrap tile, and allow the paint to dry. After the paint is cured, run your fingernail across the paint. Drag a fork across it. If the paint scratches during either test, you may want to paint a ceramic paint primer onto your design area before you use your paint markers. Allow your primer to dry completely before drawing your design. Outline with fine paint pens, and fill in the larger areas with the wider pens.


After painting on the ceramic tiles, allow the paint to dry completely or for up to 48 hours. Tape off and spray the tiles using a ceramic tile clear coat sealer. This type of finish sealer comes in matt, semigloss and glossy. Select the finish you prefer, or match the standard finish of similar field tiles. The finish should protect the paint from scratches by everyday household objects.

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About the Author

F.R.R. Mallory has been published since 1996, writing books, short stories, articles and essays. She has worked as an architect, restored cars, designed clothing, renovated homes and makes crafts. She is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley with bachelor's degrees in psychology and English. Her fiction short story "Black Ice" recently won a National Space Society contest.

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