painting tile

Can You Paint Tile Flooring?

Is your current tile flooring out-of-date, a little dingy, or just not your favorite color anymore? If you’re looking for a fresh look without the cost and hassle of completely re-tiling your space, you may be wondering, “can I paint tile flooring?”


Good news…you absolutely can! Painting tile flooring is a cost-effective alternative to re-tiling and allows you to customize the look to your home and style. Plus, with a few simple steps (which we’ll share below), you’ll be well on your way to DIYing your next tile flooring paint job. 


Keep in mind, not all tile flooring is the same. Much of the way you’ll approach painting your tile floor depends on where the tile is, what it is exposed to, and your expectations for it. 


If you are dealing with commercial tiling, such as a storefront or commercial kitchen that is exposed to excessive traffic and commercial cleaners with certain chemicals or acids, you’ll want to consult a local commercial sales paint company rep. We recommend reaching out to your local Commercial Sherwin-Williams store to talk with their sales rep and paint professionals. They’ll be able to identify the individual situation and help you build the best system for prepping, cleaning, priming, and painting your commercial tile. 


For the purpose of this blog post, we’ll focus on painting tile flooring in a residential home. 


How to Paint Tile Flooring


As with any paint job on any surface, it’s critical to follow the proper steps to prepare and paint your tile flooring. Skipping a step or rushing may lead to less-than-desirable results, which is definitely not the goal!


Step #1: Clean the Tile 


The first step when painting tile flooring is to clean the tile. Use an all-purpose cleaner and heavy-duty degreaser with a scrub brush to thoroughly clean the tile and remove all dirt, grime, and grease. Clean all of the tile surface area as well as the grout between the tiles. Let the tile air-dry completely. You want the tile to be clean, dry, and dull.

As you clean the tile and grout, look for any damages. Be sure to repair these before moving on. 

Step #2: Scuff and Sand the Tile 


This step is key, and while it may take extra work, you don’t want to skip it. Tile is a hard, dense, and shiny material. It’s important to go through a process of scuffing and sanding the tile with a coarse, 40 or 80-grit sandpaper. This will allow you to scar the tile and create a surface profile. After sanding, wipe away any excess dust with a damp rag and let dry completely.


Sanding the tile allows you to open up the tile’s surface and merge the coatings with the tile. This creates a kind of “velcro-effect” to help the paint stick to the tile more effectively.


If you skip this step and simply paint directly on top of unsanded tile, the paint will sit on top, which can lead to bubbling, peeling, or wearing after a short period of time. 


Step #3: Determine Your Expectations


Before you start painting, you want to determine your expectations for the tile flooring and think through the entire project. Where is the tile going? Is it going in a kitchen, hallway, or in a shower with excessive water exposure? Is the tile vertical or horizontal? Is it going to be in a high-traffic area of your home?

The location and expectations of the tile flooring determine how you will move forward with the application process. It also determines the types of products, such as primer and paint, that you’ll need.


Step #4: Prime the Tile


If your tile flooring is in a kitchen, hallway, bathroom, or other location that is NOT a shower, you’ll want to first apply a coat of a specified, high-adhesion primer, such as the 

Sherwin-Williams Extreme Bond Primer. This primer is ideal for surfaces that are hard and glossy, such as tile.  


Apply the primer according to the product directions, ensuring it is applied evenly. Failure to apply the primer evenly can lead to an uneven paint job. Let the primer dry completely. 


Step #5: Apply the Tile Flooring Paint


Next, apply 2-3 coats of a high-quality tile flooring paint, such as the Sherwin-Williams Porch & Floor Enamel paint. This paint has high blocking resistance and extreme dirt resistance, making it ideal for high-traffic areas. 


If you are painting tile flooring in a shower, use a paint such as the XIM Tile Doc Kit or the Krylon Tub and Tile Ultra Repair Finish. These are made specifically for tile in areas that get excessive water exposure. These products don’t require a primer and can be used directly on tile or other fiberglass bathtubs after the cleaning and sanding steps. 


Can I Add a Design to My Tile Flooring?


The answer is yes! However, there are specific steps to follow to get maximum results. If you’d like to add a design or pattern to your tile flooring, start by following the same steps as above. Start with a solid paint color and let all coatings dry completely. Then, apply your design or pattern on top using a stencil and paint. 

Here is a beautiful inspiration of adding a pattern to your painted tile floor from Within the Grove:

how to add design to a painted tile floor
Photo credit: Within the Grove

Painting tile flooring can be an enjoyable DIY project that gives you the freshly updated look you desire. We hope this blog post has helped you feel confident in the process and the products to look for for your tile flooring paint job. 


If you have any questions about paint options or other paint jobs around your home, feel free to reach out to us today!


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