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Can You Paint Floor Tiles?

By Laura Anderson

“Floorboards and a fresh coat of paint will do the trick.” Every new homeowner or first-time renovator has come across this statement at least once before.

There’s no doubt that new floorboards and a lick of paint will transform a space, but changes like these can be expensive.

If you’re finding it hard to look beyond your current floor tiling, but can’t seem to find a budget-friendly solution, why not try painting your floor tiles? It’s an easier and far more cost-effective solution than laying floorboards over those 1960s-era tiles throughout the kitchen and bathroom.

Painting floor tiles can transform any room allowing you to customise the colour and rework the aesthetic entirely. The best part? It’s completely DIY-able. Like anything, however,. it has its own set of potential issues to be wary of before embarking on your floor tile painting journey. By following the right steps for priming and painting, giving your floor tiles a new lease on life can be easy and oh-so-satisfying.

We’ve recruited the help of paint experts Clayton Kerwick, Managing Director of Refined Painting Projects, and Nigel McKenna of Top Coat, to tell us how it’s done.

What to consider before painting your floor tiles

Painting your floor tiles is a cost-effective, beautiful way of updating your home. Painting floor tiles is quick and cheap compared to laying new ones which is expensive and time-consuming”.

“It is a good way of modernising a room, and achieving a fresh, new look on a budget”, says Nigel. It also provides you the chance to have a bit of fun with it. “Painting your floor tiles provides you with a wealth of options in terms of colour, with most products on the market able to be tinted to any shade you can imagine,” says Clayton.

While it can be fun, painting your floortiles also requires a little hard work and know-how. It’s important to have an understanding of the process, the materials required, and just how long painting your floor tiles might actually take.

What paint should I use?

Your choice of paint for your floor tiles can make or break your entire DIY project (no pressure).

According to Nigel and Clayton, your paint selection is crucial to the overall durability and success of the project. Not only do you need to go for a paint that will last as long as possible, but you’ll want to make sure your chosen product will work best with your tiles.

When shopping for paint for floor tiles, it’s important to consider durability, colour, and whether it offers any non-slip benefits. Clayton and Nigel both agree that Dulux has the best products for this style of painting.

“Dulux has recently released a product specifically for painting floor tiles as a part of their new Renovation Range,” Clayton says. “This comes pre-mixed with a non-slip adhesive, and can be tinted to your desired colour.”

Is floor paint durable?

As always, a little bit of market research can go a long way before you put the paint to tile.

“Tile paints now available are of high quality and is very durable”. Brands such as Dulux have excellent products that can transform even the oldest and daggiest looking tiles into ones that look brand new. “Do keep in mind that the non-slip grit included in floor tile paint can sometimes feel a slightly rough underfoot,” explains Nigel. “If this concerns you, perhaps stick to repainting floor tiles only in your smaller rooms such as bathrooms and laundries, rather than a full living space or the entire home.”

Is painting tiles as easy as it sounds?

While painting your floor tiles certainly is a job for DIY lovers, if you’re feeling unsure, or perhaps short of time, seeking professional help is always best. “It is possible to DIY, but a professional painter will ensure a quality job, and will still come in cheaper and quicker than new tiles”, says Nigel.

According to Clayton it all comes down to the condition of the tiles “As long as your floor tiles are in a sound condition, you can achieve a great finish by painting your floor tiles, with minimal labour and costs when compared to re-tiling or laying a whole new flooring system,” he says.

How to paint floor tiles

When it comes to painting your floor tiles, there are a few steps that you do not want to miss. From preparation to finish, here’s how to paint your floor tiles.

Step 1: Prepare your floor tiles

Before you get carried away with the roller and primer, preparing your tiles is absolutely essential to the overall project.

“Read the label on your chosen primer to see if it requires the use of a specific brand or type of cleaner, most will require you to use a non-alkaline product,” says Clayton. “It’s vital that you give the tiles a really thorough clean – make sure that you’ve cleaned the grout and removed any silicones or finishes that may be on the tiles. “Make sure all your cleaning agent is wiped off the tiles before you start painting, and that the grout is completely dry.”

Hot tip: “Make sure to give the tiles a light sand before you begin, and particularly make sure that you’ve sanded anywhere that silicone has been removed to achieve a smooth surface,” advises Clayton.

Step 2: Open as many windows as possible and turn fans on

The preparation process for painting your floor tiles will require cleaning chemicals and perhaps sanding. Open as many windows as possible at this stage, and turn on any portable fans you may have to dry the area as soon as possible. Then, it’s time to start priming.

Step 3: Apply the primer to the grout with a brush, and the tiles with a long-handled roller

Essential to making your tile paint go that extra mile, it’s important to prime your tiles with a paintbrush and roller. Clayton and Nigel both agree that the best way to get into the grout is with a paintbrush. As for the tiles, go for a long-handled roller to ensure you have an even coat. It’s best to work in small patches when priming to ensure that you don’t miss any tiles.

Step 4: Allow the primer enough time to dry

Once you’ve finished priming, allow for the primer to dry completely before you start rolling on the first coat of paint. This can take one to two days depending on the amount of primer required.

Step 5: Time to start painting your floor tiles

Now, the moment you’ve been waiting for: it’s time to paint those floor tiles. With a long-handled roller, apply paint in small sections to ensure an even first coat. Be sure to cover all areas of the surface so you don’t create uneven layers.

Step 6: Wait 3-7 days before applying your second coat

Before you apply your second coat of paint, it’s crucial that you let the first coat of paint completely dry. Your tiles will thank you later. Clayton and Nigel both agree that this is an incredibly important step in your tile painting process. “You need to allow enough time for the product to thoroughly cure,” Clayton says. “Read the guidance given with your chosen product, though on average, these products can take around three to seven days to fully cure to the point that you can use the area freely”. Be sure to check the instructions on your floor paint, as they will advise the best time between painting your first and second coat of paint.

Hot tip: If you’re worried about the paint that’s stuck in your grout after you’ve finished painting, Clayton says that you can use a different coloured grout pen to pick it out. “This will disguise the fact that you’ve painted tiles, and will give you a professional-looking finish”.

How should I care for my painted tile floors?

Once you’ve finished painting your tiles, be sure to let them cure completely and avoid moving furniture. “Wear socks for a few days after the product has dried, and avoid dragging furniture for a week or so to minimise any impact to the floor,” advises Clayton.

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