Painting Over Tiles
And then there are tiles. We find tiles in some shape or form in almost all older structures. We find it on floors, on benchtops, around baths and sinks and wherever those fixtures are placed. The question you ask yourself is this one: is your tiling a buyer magnet, or does it act as a detriment to your sale? Only a good home stager or a successful real estate selling agent will have the definitive answer. Your first job is to consult with these members of your sales team. Those who sell real estate or provide property styling services know how to categorise your tiling and the conundrum it presents.
If you’ve ever lived in a house or apartment with 1950s era ceramic tiles in the bathroom, you understand two things. 1) The decision to affix tiles to a wall can be a permanent one. (Ask the Greeks and Romans whose the tiling in ancient buildings still clings to crumbling walls.) This can be a blessing or a curse given the cyclic way trends in colours and styles change over the decades. 2) Removing tile can be an expensive and time-consuming project.
If your tiles must go, there are happy alternatives to bringing in a wrecking ball. Not only can tile be successfully painted over, it can also be tiled over or covered in any number of ways to update and beautify your bathroom or kitchen.
Painting Over Tiles
If you imagine that painting over tiles is the easiest option you have to rid yourself of sad old tiling, think again. It is certainly the most inexpensive way to accomplish a different look, but it requires lots of effort if you want the job to look good in the end. (If you’ve ever made the mistake of painting a door with water-based paint after it has been coated in an oil-based paint sometime in the past, you will have learned that your latest coat of paint will peel off at every opportunity in sheets that look like deflated balloons.) Surface preparation is a serious commitment if you decide to paint over tile.
• Kitchen tiles that act as benchtops and splashbacks will require scrubbing with commercial cleaners that can remove years of built-up grease. Even if your tiles look spotless, the grout has a way of collecting and soaking grease up.
• Bathroom and shower tiles collect soap residue that can discolour both the tiles and the grout. Tiles that are placed high on the wall will be relatively clean compared to those on lower walls. Your goal is to get them all to the same degree of clean. (Note: if you have extremely hard water, lime deposits can also mar your tiles. Some who provide property styling services have had varying success with spray-on oven cleaner to remove these.)
Clean Again: Tri-sodium-phosphate, or TSP, will work wonders in the cleaning phase of your project. Make certain to rinse carefully and allow the surfaces (and the grout) to dry thoroughly.
Clean More: Using an orbital sander fitted with a fine-grit paper, go over the tiles to take off any of the remaining residue. You need not remove the glaze; just scuff it up a bit to make it more receptive to the paint.
Just a Little Extra Cleaning; Finally, after the sanding dust has been rinsed off and allowed, once again, to dry thoroughly, you can go over the tiles with a tack-cloth to be sure all the surface dust is gone. Your tiling is now ready to paint.
You will want to consult the paint experts or your property styling services provider to discover the best way to proceed. We think there are, at present, three good paint options for tile.
• Spray paint, some of which is texturised, has come a long way. It’is formulated to survive the weather outdoors, so it can certainly weather a storm of showers. It takes a lot of shaking, a bit of practice in its application, and lots and lots of ventilation, but it is an excellent option. Ask your paint department expert.
• The two-coat process, in which you apply a bonding agent in one coat and the paint itself in another, is also one that your paint expert can discuss with you.
• An epoxy process, wherein you mix two substances to get a third product to paint the tile is also available at your paint store.
Allow your newly painted tiles to dry thoroughly before you allow them to be used in any way – this includes setting anything on the surface. It takes some time for the paint to cure properly. If you take the proper steps, the results will amaze you.
If all of this sounds like just too much work, you may certainly avail yourself of other options. There are professionals who specialise in painting tile, or resurfacing it. Your property styling services provider can point you toward such a pro, or may even supervise the job for you. When in doubt, always call in the pros.

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