Published on October 29th, 2013 | by Henri


Painting old tile

Q.  My question is about a process I’ve recently seen advertised that seems to use a process of spraying on a coating, similar to the one used to re-finish old tubs, to paint old tile.

I live in a 1930s colonial with a pink and black tile bathroom that I hate. I can’t bring myself to justify tearing it out since the tile is otherwise in excellent shape and the cost of a full renovation is prohibitive. Are you familiar with this process? Do you know the effectiveness and cost?

A.    Painting ceramic tiles is always a somewhat risky business as their glaze is a challenge for any coating.

I am not familiar with the process you have seen advertised, and I think it would be quite expensive. An alternative that is bound to be a lot less costly is to prime the tiles with B-I-N and paint them with a gloss or semi-gloss alkyd top-quality paint. There are also some epoxy coatings that would be suitable.

But the success of any painting job, especially over glazed ceramic tiles, is in a thorough clean-up and preparation. Tiles that are over 70 years old have an accumulation of grime embedded by steam that has to be removed. It is also helpful to abrade the tiles slightly with medium sandpaper and an orbital sander. Be aware of the fact that any scratch in the final coating may start the process of peeling as steam gets behind the coating.

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