Paint Over Old Tiles

  • Paint Over Old Tiles, AFTER
  • Paint Over Old Tiles, BEFORE
  • Paint Over Old Tiles, AFTER
  • paint over old tiles, before

Replacing bathroom tiles is a big job, involving chipping out the existing tiles and restoring the wall to a smooth finish. 

Wet areas then need waterproofing before the tiling can begin. 

The amount of labour combined with the cost of the new tiles makes this an expensive renovation.

For an easy and high-impact makeover, you can paint directly over the tiles, and the paint can be tinted to suit your colour scheme. 

The finish is gloss, so proper preparation is the key to a professional result. Scrub any soap scum, mould or dirt from the areas to be painted, then use a tile cleaning product. 

Apply a primer and two coats of tile paint, sanding between coats, taking care not to overload the brush or roller.

To calculate how much paint you need, measure the length and height of the area to be painted to give the number of square metres. Divide this by 12 to get the total litres required.

This ensuite had been renovated a few years ago, but the original wall tiles were retained. The faux-marble design was outdated and the shower had discoloured grout as a result of being plumbed to a rainwater tank. 

After two days of DIY, the tiles and grout now repel water and the bathroom looks clean and modern. 

Taping a clean edge 

When using painter’s tape, press it down on the edge of the area to be painted. If loosely applied, paint will bleed underneath the tape, resulting in an uneven edge. 

It’s best to remove tape before the paint has dried. But if two or three coats are needed, the base coats will be dry. To break the seal between the paint and tape, score the edge with a utility knife, then pull it away at a 45° angle. 

Step 1. Clean the tiles

Scrub the tiles and grout with a solution of one part bleach to 10 parts water to remove mould, then leave to dry. Spray with tile cleaner, leave for 30 seconds, then wipe off with a wet sponge to remove soap scum and oil.

Step 2. Mask the edges

Use painter’s tape to mask off the walls at the floor and ceiling and any other edges. Press firmly on the edge of the tape along the area to be painted to give a clean finish. Fill any cracks with grout or gap filler and leave to dry. Position drop cloths on the floor.

Step 3. Sand the tiles

Give the tiles a light sand all over with a sheet of 240 grit wet/dry abrasive paper and a sanding block to create a rough matt surface. This will help the paint adhere better to the tiles. Wash and rinse off the tiles using a wet sponge and clean water, then leave to dry completely.

Step 4. Apply the primer

Stir the primer well, then pour into a roller tray. Paint a small area of the tiles at a time using a microfibre mini roller and a brush to cut in the edges or around tricky areas such as taps. Roll on the primer in a zigzag pattern, then smooth out, working from the top to the base. Leave to dry.

Step 5. Paint first coat

Lightly sand the tiles with 240 grit paper and wipe down. Apply the first coat with the roller, using a brush to cut in. Paint a small area at a time in a zigzag pattern, then roll smooth. When the paint is spread and only a little is left on the roller, go over the area in one direction from top to base.

Step 6. Finish painting

Store the brush and roller in water until the first coat of paint is dry, then squeeze out the water. Lightly sand the tiles with 600 grit paper. Wipe off the dust, then apply the top coat using the same technique as for the first coat. Allow to dry for a day, then wait a week until fully cured.

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