Can Bathroom Shower Tiles be Painted?

Can Bathroom Shower Tiles be Painted?

There comes in a time in everyone’s life (or maybe not everyone…) when they ask themselves this question. 

It usually pops up because of one or two very common reasons.  

You’ve moved into a new house, and absolutely hate the existing bathroom tiles (it happens). You’ve grown sick and tired of your own previous choice, but can’t commit to something new just yet. You want a change, or to freshen things up, but don’t have the budget or time to commit to a full-scale refurbishment.  

Whatever the reason, believe us, we’ve been there!  

The short answer is yes, bathroom shower tiles can be painted…but let’s dig into the details.  

Can Bathroom Shower Tiles be Painted? 

As we said above, bathroom shower tiles can be painted but it isn’t as easy as you might think, and it’s also far from a full-proof plan.  

On the one hand, it can be a cheap and relatively quick fix to an interior design nightmare. After all, there’s nothing worse than buying a house or moving into a new pad sporting a 1970s style brown or lime green bathroom!  

In those cases, painting tiles can prove useful as the alternative, full-scale redesign, may be beyond reach.  

Unfortunately, there are negatives to consider…  

The biggest negative is two-fold and connected. Basically, the finished product can look less than impressive, depending on the tile you’re working with, and on top of that it will require more maintenance than the original décor. This is especially true for “busy areas” of the bathroom (think doorways, storage, splash zones etc.) where more wear and tear is to be expected.  

This is doubly the case for shower tiles, and any other similar area, that will be exposed to water on a daily basis.  

Despite the likes of Dulux, Homebase, and B&Q, all offering bathroom tile-specific paint, the jury remains out on whether or not they’re actually strong enough for the daily abuse 99% of bathrooms receive.

Painting Bathroom Tiles Process 

However, we know that some of you will still want to do it, so the “painting bathroom tiles” process revolves around a couple of key steps as follows: 

  • Cleaning
  • Priming
  • Painting
  • Sealing

Essentially, bathroom tiles (or the majority of tiles for that matter) aren’t designed or created to be painted on. That means a certain amount of preparation is required because your biggest problem will be adhesion.  

Your newly applied paint requires something to “stick” to.  

To begin, you’ll need to clean the tiles and make sure they’re free from grease, dirt, limescale and any other miscellaneous stains. Use a light detergent solution for this and make sure the tiles are completely dry before the next step… 

That next step? Creating the texture required for paint. Some paint brands market an “all-in-1” solution but again, the jury is out. On the priming side, in some cases we’ve seen homeowners lightly sand their tiling to remove the glossy finish. However, the more common practice is to simply use an adhesion primer or surface preparation solution. This will cover your tiles in a film, on which you will paint.  

Which leads us on nicely to the main event – the painting! Like every paint job, you’ll want a nice even coat (generally 2-3 depending on the colours involved) and we would recommend using a small foam roller to achieve this. Ideally, you should also remove or cover any silicon sealent before starting, and tidy up corners and lines with a small brush afterwards.  

After this, and after your fresh paint has thoroughly dried, add a sealer to maintain your new finish for as long as possible.  

Finally, don’t forget to take breaks and ensure the room is well ventilated at all times! The entire process could put your bathroom out of action for 2-3 days depending on size, prep and drying times etc.  

Pros: 

  • Relatively quick
  • Potential short-term fix
  • Cheaper than tiling

Cons: 

  • Takes 1-3 days (depending on bathroom size)
  • Requires maintenance/reapplication
  • Weak in busy/wet areas of bathroom

— 

As with most things related to bathroom interiors, you have the short answer and the long answer.  

The short is self-explanatory. You can definitely paint bathroom tiles, but as the longer explanation reveals, there are plenty of potential pitfalls, and even with correct application you aren’t guaranteed a finish of the same quality as tile.  

We hope this helps!  

#GoodLittleBathrooms 

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