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Q&A: Tile Paint

With the advent of specific tile paints, more and more people are turning to it.

Painting your tiles can be an inexpensive way to give your bathroom or kitchen a new look without having to completely re-tile the area. With tile paint being such a new product, naturally there are many questions to be asked.

For example, does it actually work? What issues might you have with it? We even know some professional painters who have yet to experience using tile paint so we thought we’d put together a handy guide answering some commonly asked questions as well as offering advice to some more specific problems you might encounter.

Does tile paint actually work?

Tile paint absolutely works and can save you lots of money on completely retiling your bathroom or kitchen. We’d always recommend using a job-specific paint to get the best results.

How long will it last?

Depending on which tile paint you choose, your tiles can look in tip top condition for years to come or at least until you’re ready to retile. Of course, different conditions can have an impact on the longevity of the paint. For example, bathrooms with poor ventilation or kitchen tiles that need to be scrubbed often aren’t going to last as long.

Should you paint the tiles AND grout?

Yes, we’d advise painting both the tiles and grout. After you’ve finished painting and the paint is fully cured, you can go over the lines with a grout pen to make it look fantastic.

Can you paint roof tiles?

Absolutely. Whilst it’s not something that comes up regularly on our job list, we’ve done painted a few roofs over the past couple of years, one of which I drive past regularly (it still looks good!)

If you’re looking for roof tile paint recommendations, I’d suggest you try Paintmaster Professional heavy duty acrylic paint. The charcoal colour is very impressive and looks a bit like modern slate. This stuff lasts for years too so it won’t be a case of repainting it often!

Which paint would you recommend for bathroom tiles?

My personal favourite would be Johnstone’s tile paint. Very easy to apply with a brush, it doesn’t need a primer or undercoat (sanding your tiles will give the paint a good key) and gives a lovely chic finish.

My customer wants the tiles painted in a bathroom that doesn’t get a lot of use. I hear that there are so many more options now for adhesion primers than there used to be. From experience, what would be your go-to primer/top-coat combo for this job?

In the past I have used the Dulux Trade Ultra grip primer. It’s a water based epoxy and in my opinion the strongest adhesive primer you’ll buy off the shelf. Just don’t forget to pick up the little tin of activator. You can then finish the tiles in oil based eggshell. I used this combo for a friend 3 years ago, it’s still on and looking good.

One thing I would say though is try to mix enough for around an hours work as it starts to go off around 2 hours. When it starts to go off it goes gungey and borderline unworkable.

I’m looking to paint some old tiles – any advice?

Make sure you get your preparation spot on. If they’re old they’re likely going to be a bit dirty and greasy. Get yourself a bucket of hot water, a scotch green pad and Fairy washing up liquid. That will take all the grease off nicely.

I would also buy a grout scraper to scrape off any grease that may or may not be laying on the surface of the grout. Wash down with warm water. Painting is then up to you. You could use a primer or any oil based paint for the undercoat then follow up with a top coat of your choice.

Can you spray bathroom tiles?

I had a bathroom to paint years ago and the client bought enamel spray so I sprayed them and I was actually impressed with how well it worked. On that basis, I’d say it’s worth checking out.

I’ve got some exterior tiles to paint. What paint could I use for this and is there any specific prep needed for exterior tiles?

Everest Trade do a very nice exterior tile paint if you can afford it otherwise you could go with Rustin’s brick and tile. In terms of preparation there’s not too much you need to do. If you have a pressure washer, you can use that and then apply the paint once dried. If not, you could rub the tiles down with a wire brush.

My Nanna is wanting some tiles painted to match her wall paint – so I’m thinking the dedicated tile paint is a no go. What are my options?

You could use Whitson’s Superior Adhesion Primer in white. It’s stick very well to glazed tile surfaces and then you could do the topcoat to match the colour of her walls.

Can you paint porcelain floor tiles?

You can paint porcelain floor tiles but you need to be very particular about which paint you’re going to use and if you’re not a professional you might not get the finish or durability you want.

What’s the quickest way to remove paint from ceramic tiles?

Use Peelaway. You could pop it on with the blankets and pull it off in one big sheet. You won’t need too much either, Peelaway goes a long way.