Painting Bathroom Tiles [Ultimate Guide]

Whilst painting bathroom tiles might seem like a daunting task, it’s actually a relatively simple process that anyone with an ounce of DIY experience can execute. Of course, I understand that it’s not as simple as picking up any old tin of paint and whacking it onto your tiles which is why, after painting countless bathroom tiles, I’ve used my experience to create this easy-to-follow guide.

Can You Paint Bathroom Tiles?

With the right preparation and paint products, painting bathroom tiles is entirely possible. It’s imperative that you prepare the substrate properly before you start painting and choose the correct paint as otherwise, you could end up with worn-down paint in the blink of an eye.

Furthermore, you will need to be ultra-careful not to disturb the paint whilst it cures with the curing process taking up to 3 weeks in some instances.

Best Paint for Bathroom Tiles

For the right blend of style and durability, it’s worth using a satin finish for your tiles. More specifically, we would recommend using the almost bomb-proof V33 paint.

The v33, whilst easily bought at common DIY stores such as B&Q, is used extensively by tradesmen, thus is its high quality. I’ve even known tradesmen to apply 2 coats of it without any prep (which we absolutely would not recommend) and still get hard-wearing, great-looking results.

In terms of durability, V33 won’t be beaten, however, it does have one obvious drawback. It only comes in 6 colours – white, cotton, soft grey, loft grey, rye and anthracite as shown below.


Whilst this isn’t a problem for most people (after all, white is the most popular colour for bathroom tiles), those looking for a specific colour might be disappointed.

Alternatively, if you do want a specific colour then I would recommend using a high-quality primer (such as Dulux Super Grip or Bulls Eye 123) along with a couple of coats of Zinsser Allcoat which you can tint to any colour you want. Whilst this option won’t typically be as long-lasting as V33, it is a solid medium-term solution.

Can You Use Matt Paint?

Whilst it’s theoretically possible to use matt paint to paint your ceramic bathroom tiles, we’d always advise against it as matt paint isn’t designed to be waterproof or sustain repeated cleaning – especially cleaning with bathroom products.

Still want to take the risk? Your best bet would be to use Dulux Super Grip as a primer followed by a couple of coats of Dulux Trade Scuffshield Matt. Just to reiterate again, I would personally avoid this option.

How to Paint Bathroom Tiles

There are a couple of ways you can paint your bathroom tiles including using a 2-in-1 primer/top coat or using a specialist primer and a separate top coat. Both methods have their own advantages as I’ll describe below.

Method One: Using V33 Tile Paint

As mentioned above, V33 is our chosen paint for tiles and is what we’d recommend you use. Therefore, method one is using V33.

Tools for the job:

  • V33 paint
  • Sugar soap
  • Bucket of clean water and an abrasive sponge
  • 240 grit sandpaper
  • 4mm short pile roller or gloss mini roller (V33 recommend the 4mm short pile roller but I get better results with a gloss mini roller)
  • Rounded edge paint brush
  • Paint stirrer

Step 1: Clean the surface

As with any paint project, it’s imperative to thoroughly clean the substrate. Use sugar soap as well as an abrasive sponge to ensure any limescale or mould is removed from the tiles.

In particular, pay very close attention to the grout in between the tiles as this is where dirt and mould are more likely to build up.

After applying the sugar soap and giving the tiles a good scrub down, wash away any remnants of the sugar soap with clean water. It’s important to make sure you thoroughly rinse the area as painting over sugar soap can cause peeling and flaking paint further down the line.

Step 2: Prepare the surface

After cleaning the surface and letting it dry, you can begin sanding it down. Tiles are very easily marked so we would recommend using an extra fine sandpaper grade (something in the region 220 – 260) as this will lightly abrade the surface, giving the paint something to key to without scratching the tiles.

Once you’ve sanded the surface, make sure you give it a good dust down. Applying paint to dust can cause flaking so don’t skip this important step.

If you have any silicone sealing the tiles, it’s recommended to remove this and reapply silicone once the paint has fully cured (about 20 days).

Step 3: Applying the paint

Before starting the painting process, ensure the room is well-ventilated and you’ve put down some dust sheets to protect other surfaces in the room.

  • The paint comes with a special additive (usually found underneath the lid) so empty this into the paint and, using a paint stirrer, thoroughly mix the additive into the paint, ensuring that you stir all the way to the bottom of the tin. You should aim to stir for about 5 minutes.
  • Use the rounded edge paint brush to cut in around any angles, corners and the ceiling (don’t cut in beyond 1m2 at a time)
  • Working in small areas (about 0.5m2), use the mini roller to apply the paint, ensuring that you use cross strokes. Work from one end of the area to the other.
  • Allow the first coat to fully dry before applying a second coat. Depending on the temperature of the room, this should TAKE around 6 hours.
  • Apply the second coat.
  • After you’ve applied the second coat and allowed it to dry for 6 hours, you can assess whether a third coat is needed or not. If you’re painting over dark-coloured tiles, a third coat might indeed be necessary.

Method Two: Using a Primer and Top Coat

Whilst I would personally advocate for using V33, I understand that the colour limitations can be offputting for those looking for a specific style. If that’s you, then use method two – priming and then adding a top coat of your choice.

Tools for the job:

  • Zinsser Allcoat paint (tinted to your chosen colour)
  • Dulux Super Grip Primer
  • Sugar soap
  • Bucket of clean water and an abrasive sponge
  • 240 grit sandpaper
  • 4mm short pile roller or gloss mini roller (V33 recommend the 4mm short pile roller but I get better results with a gloss mini roller)
  • Rounded edge paint brush
  • Paint stirrer

Clean/prepare the surface

As with method one, wash the surface with sugar soap and give it a good rinse.

Once all of the sugar soap has been rinsed off, abrade with an extra fine sandpaper.

Dust the tiles down, ensuring that no dust is left on the surface.

Prime the surface

After you’ve cleaned and prepared the surface, it’s time to apply the primer.

Give the primer a thorough stir for about 5 minutes and then start applying it to the tiles.

Whether you choose to use a brush or a roller to apply the primer is up to you. Whatever you’re comfortable using.

Allow the primer around 6 hours to dry before applying your top coats.

Apply the paint

  • Once the primer is fully dry, you can start applying your first coat of Zinsser Allcoat. You can use a brush or a roller but like method one, I would recommend using a synthetic mini roller as you’ll avoid brush marks and get the job done faster.
  • Work in areas of roughly 1m2, using cross strokes.
  • After completing your first coat, allow roughly 1-2 hours for it to dry.
  • After 1-2 hours, the paint is re-coatable so now apply your second (and final) coat.

As Zinsser Allcoat is designed for use on interiors and exteriors, you don’t necessarily need to be too careful in regard to the amount of time you’ll need to wait before it becomes safe for you to use your shower/clean the tiles. With that being said, giving the paint a few days to fully cure will maximise its durability in the long run.

Painted Bathroom Tiles Before and After Example

Wondering what you can expect after painting your bathroom tiles? Take a look at this before and after example. Notice how a lick of paint completely transforms the area.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it a good idea to paint bathroom tiles?

If you are working on a budget and can’t quite afford the high cost of labour and materials required to re-tile your bathroom then painting them is a good idea. Of course, it should be considered as a short to medium-term solution.

Does the paint actually last?

Depending on the paint system you use, how often you clean it and the products you use to clean it, the paint can last for over 2 years. This is heavily reliant on using a gentle detergent and non-abrasive sponge when cleaning.

Can you spray paint bathroom tiles?

Whilst you can certainly use a paint sprayer to apply paints such as Zinsser Allcoat, tile paints that come in a spray can should be avoided. It is notoriously difficult to achieve an even finish with spray paints and even if you do they don’t tend to last that long. We’d recommend sticking with the methods mentioned above.

Does it matter if your bathroom tiles are old?

You can paint old bathroom tiles using the paint systems mentioned in this article without encountering any problems.

Do you have to sand bathroom tiles before painting?

Whilst some self-priming paints don’t require you to sand the substrate before painting, bathroom tiles have such a smooth surface that using extra fine sandpaper to abrade them goes a long way towards helping paint adhere to the surface.