How to paint tiles

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Painting over old tiles is an easy way to improve a bathroom or kitchen.
Couple smiling ready to paint

If you’re looking to improve the look of your bathroom or kitchen tiles, you don’t need to strip the tiles from the wall and live through a renovation. Like all DIY projects, particularly if it’s your first time doing such a job, preparation is the key. Take time to prepare the surface and the finished product will be well worth it. There’s an easy way you can upgrade your room using tile paint.

  • Start with a thorough spray and scrub using a tile and laminate cleaner. Use it to get your tiles squeaky clean and ready for their makeover. You need to remove residual soap scum, grime or bath oils that have built-up over time.
  • Use bleach to get rid of any mould and fill in any grout or tile cracks with fresh grout or poly filler. If a tile is badly damaged, replace it with a tile of the same size. You don’t have to worry about matching the colour, as it will be painted over.
  • Protect the surfaces you’re not painting against accidental spills or over-painting. You can use painter’s tape or any masking tape to protect non-tiled walls and taps. Put drop sheets in the bathtub, over vanities and on the floor.
  • Use a laminate primer to create a base coat to help your final coat stick to the tiles and prevent peeling and scratching later on. A good base coat should contain an anti-mould ingredient so check the label or ask your local paint supplier.
  • Use a roller to zig-zag the primer across your tiles, finishing off corners and edges with a paint brush. Avoid painting straight from the tin, otherwise you will ruin the primer for future use – use a rolling tray instead. Apply two coats of primer four hours apart with a light sand after each, then you’ll be ready to paint.
  • Apply your paint in the same manner as your primer. Use a roller and tray, and a paint brush for corners and edges. Zig-zag your first coat, leave to dry for six hours, then finish off with a light sand before applying the second coat using long strokes. Stir your paint every now and then – it will prevent streaks and help you achieve a smooth finish. The rule of thumb is that two thin coats are better than one thick coat. The tiles should be fully cured in a week, so be careful you don’t bump or scratch them during that period.

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The information in this article has been prepared for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal advice or specific advice to any particular person. Any advice contained in the document is general advice, not intended as legal advice or professional advice and does not take into account any person’s particular circumstances. Before acting on anything based on this advice you should consider its appropriateness to you, having regard to your objectives and needs.