As I told you here, we decided not to remove the tiles in our lavatory when we were renovating our bathroom. It seemed like a lot of work for a tiny space with a lot of extra nooks, plus we’d have to remove the hanging toilet and well, we just didn’t feel like it.
This left us with only one option: to paint the tiles on the walls. I was a bit intimidated by the project, but in hindsight it worked out great and I’m so happy with the result. I’ve had a lot of questions about the process so I’m happy to share 5 tips for painting tiles I’ve picked up along the way.
I started painting the room during the Easter weekend. I got tired of overthinking the process and decided to just start painting with what we had left in our storage space. What we had was primer and a very high gloss black lacquer paint.
Because high gloss didn’t look too great and my can of paint was empty before the room was finished, we ended up going to the store after all to pick up a satin gloss paint. Although the label read carbon black, the colour on the wall was more grey than black. So back to the store it was, where we asked them to mix up a custom color, that did in fact look black on the walls. Two more coats of paint and we were finally done!
5 tips for painting tiles
1. Make sure your tiles are in good shape. Restore the grout where you need to, maybe fill some gaps if there are any. The better shape your tiles are in the better your result will be. If your tiles are practically falling apart, I’d advice you not to start painting them but rather just to get rid of them.
2. Preparation is key! Don’t skip any steps. Sand, degrease by cleaning the tiles with all purpose cleaner and prime. Do it carefully and thoroughly.
3. My gut was telling me to go for neutral colors like white, dark grey or black. You don’t want your project to look cheap and I feared it easily would. I preferred black to juxtapose the white walls and black accents in our bathroom. I think a deep dark colours could look great as well, but I would be cautious with pastels. Maybe that’s just me. 🙂
4. Don’t go high gloss. As I mentioned before, the first layer of black paint was high gloss, and it was very wrong for more than one reason. First of al it brought out all the features in the tiles I didn’t like: the texture and the grout was suddenly even more visible than before. Second of all, the paint was a lot harder to apply and I had a lot of bubbles on the walls. And lastly, I got this weird bachelor pad vibe. All that was missing was a miniature Ferrari and a Playboy poster. Not what I was aiming for at all.
5. Don’t expect miracles. You need to know in advance that this is not a long term solution and you may have to repaint (or retouch) your tiles after a couple of years. The less heavy your surface is used the longer it will last. Painted floor tiles will show traces of use almost immediately, but wall tiles hold up a lot longer.
The paint I used was Perfection paint for inside use for multiple surfaces (“binnenverf voor meerdere ondergronden”) satin gloss finish in RAL color 9005, via Brico.