HOW I PAINTED OUR BATHROOM’S CERAMIC TILE FLOORS: A SIMPLE (AND CHEAP!) DIY


In this post: Can you paint tile floors? Yes! I’m sharing how painting our bathroom’s ceramic tile floors – a simple, inexpensive DIY – made a HUGE difference!

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Do you ever have a project that ended up being so much easier than you expected that you’re kicking yourself for procrastinating so long to do it? Painting the ceramic tile floors in our first floor bathroom was one of those projects for me! I decided I was going to paint my bathroom floors way back in 2014 when I was making over my space for the One Room Challenge but the stenciling of the bathroom walls took so long that I ran out of time to do it before my big reveal. Somehow THREE full years went by with me giving the stink eye to those floors every time I used the bathroom but doing nothing about it. Well I finally knocked this little DIY project out and it was so cheap and easy. And I love it! Welcome to my its-five-hundred-times-better-than-those-ugly-reddish-floors-were bathroom!Such a HUGE improvement over the reddish tile, right?!And believe it or not, the ugly color wasn’t even the worst thing about the old tile floors. Behind both the sink and the toilet, the tile had gross, ugly stains that I couldn’t get off no matter how hard I tried – completely gagworthy and something the previous owners hid under a custom cut rug they had in this bathroom when we bought the house!Now you’d never know that my poor tile had such an ugly past!Here’s what you need to do to get the job done (affiliate links included in post):

STEP 1: SAND YOUR TILE FLOORS

Sanding the tile helps helps scuff up the surface of it to help the primer adhere. And if you have disgusting unidentified crap on the surface of your tile like I did, you can sand it right off. I used {this electric sander} which makes the job so much quicker and easier than doing it by hand. If you do a lot of projects around the house and don’t already have one of these electric sanders, I’d highly recommend it – it’s lightweight, fits in the palm of your hand, and has an angled head to get into corners easily:

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STEP 2: CLEAN YOUR FLOORS (SUPER WELL!)

After finishing sanding, I vacuumed up all of the dust and debris and then went to town on cleaning my floors. Any heavy-duty stripper & cleaner should do the job – you can get the one that I used online {here} but it’s much cheaper at your local hardware store. I mixed the cleaner with water (per the instructions), mopped it onto the floor, let it sit for about 15 minutes, and then scrubbed the entire floor with a nylon scrub brush. Then I cleaned it off with bucket of warm water and did it a second time. The cleaner the floor, the better your paint will adhere!

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STEP 3: REPAIR ANY MISSING GROUT OR CRACKED TILES

The grout on our floor was a mess and there are several areas where chunks of it were missing. Regrouting is a pretty huge job since you need to spend a lot of time digging out the old grout first so I went the easy route and simply used paintable caulk to fill in and smooth over any bare spots in my grout. The caulk adhered well and now that it’s painted, you would never know that I had done it. Now would be the time to replace or repair any cracked tiles too. I had one tile closer to our bathtub with a crack in it but knew it would be covered by our bathroom rug so I simply caulked the cracked portion and sanded down the rough edge a bit instead of replacing it. 

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STEP 4: APPLY A GOOD PRIMER

Using a really good primer is the key to success for painting ceramic tile! I used INSL-X STIX (available {here}) which is my go-to primer for painting surfaces that paint might normally have a hard time adhering too (you might remember that I used it to prime brass shelving strips on the inside of the bookcase when I made-over our family room). I used a paint brush and small roller simultaneously, painting the edges and grout lines with my brush and then rollering on the primer for the rest. Just make sure you start at the far end of the room and work towards the door so you don’t paint yourself into a corner. Once it was dry, I recoated using the same technique.

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STEP 5: PAINT YOUR TILE!

I painted our floor tile in the same way as I primed it, using a paint brush on the edges and on the grout and rollering the rest as I went:The type of paint that I used was Benjamin Moore’s Floor & Patio Paint since it’s meant to stand up to lots of use and abuse. I applied three coats of paint, letting it dry according to the paint instructions in between coats. The color I went with is Benjamin Moore Platinum Gray, which is the same gray color as the lighter portions of my stenciled walls. 

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STEP 6: SEAL YOUR TILE?

The last step if you choose to do it, is to seal your tile. I was definitely torn on whether to seal mine – with porch paint you technically don’t need to seal it since the paint is made to withstand a lot of wear but sealing it with a polyurethane would definitely make painted tile more durable. The only negative to using polyurethane is that if you do get a gash in your floor or some other area that needs to be repaired, it’s a little trickier to fix in a way that it blends in perfectly if you’ve topcoated with polyurethane. So for now, my floors are going topless (and after being used for several months have held up really well) but if your floors get lots of wear and tear, a topcoat of polyurethane is definitely something I’d think about.


STEP 7: LET YOUR FLOOR DRY & THEN PUT IT TO USE!

After your last coat of paint or polyurethane, give your floor at least a day to dry before walking on it – it’s best to be gentle with it (no heeled shoes, etc.) for the first week or so until everything is fully cured. We’ve been back to using our bathroom normally for a few months now and the painted tile has held up beautifully! The only issue I’ve had is a small but deep scratch on one of the tiles that was obviously made by something sharp – I’m guessing a small stone that got stuck in someone’s shoe tread. I was able to sand it and repaint just that one tile and now you’d never know anything was once there. So overall, I’m incredibly happy with how it looks and how it’s worn! Especially for a project that cost me under $50!The one other small change I made in this space is replacing the large jute rug that used to be in here with this large, cushy white bath mat (found {here}). Have I been living under a rock not knowing that they made bathmats that are long and narrow like this so that they span almost the whole width of the tub? I sooo needed one of these when my kids were little! I bought {this 30 x 50 size} and have already ordered another one for my daughters’ bathroom – in addition to being a great length it’s so super cozy on your feet and I love the subtle border design!So I can finally write our bathroom off as one more room that’s done… for now at least and here it is today:The best part is that it’s a room we didn’t spend a ton of money on. Other than the money spent on the wood medicine cabinet and sconces, everything else was inexpensive DIY projects. You can read more about how I stenciled the walls to look like wallpaper in {this post}, how I reworked our ancient towel bar in {this post}, and about the DIY art that I added over the toilet in {this post}.So what do you think? Let me know if you have any questions (or if you just have a comment I always love hearing from you!). I’ve included a full source list for my space below in case you were wondering where something in my bathroom came from – hope it’s helpful!

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