Discover how to get that expensive, hand-painted tile look by actually hand-painting your own tile!
How to Upgrade Your Tile Floors With a Stencil & Some Chalk Paint
I’ll be real with you. When I first heard that people were painting their tile floors, I was skeptical. I mean, how good could that really look, right? You’d totally be able to tell.
But the more people I saw jumping on the bandwagon and transforming their floors, the more curious I grew.
As I was staring at our beige, builder-grade, laminate tile in our laundry room for the thousandth time, I caved. I decided I was going to paint our tile. What could possibly go wrong, right? You can always paint over paint!
So I took on last look at the laundry room floor, and set off to gather my supplies…
Yeah… you see what I was working with.
Loving the black and white tile trend I was seeing all over the place, I decided to go with a white base and a charcoal gray overlay.
But before I could start, I had to choose a stencil.
When I first started this process, I really wasn’t sure what my options were. Would I just have to make a craft stencil work? Did someone actually make tile stencils?
Yes, the answer is yes.
So I measured my tile (mine is 13×13in!) and set off to find a stencil that would work.
Unfortunately, I was coming up short searching for a 13×13 stencil. So without wanting to waste too much time, I just took a chance and opted for a 12×12 stencil because I fell in love with the design.
I went with this beautiful Augusta Tile Stencil from Cutting Edge Stencils!
I also bought 2 and would highly recommend you do the same! I had to cut one of mine for some of the corner and edge tiles. More on that in a minute!
Next, I moved on to paint. I paint a lot, and my comfort zone really lies in chalk paint, so that’s what I went with.
You will need a base paint, an overlay paint, and a poly or sealant of some kind!
I went with…
- White chalk paint
- Charcoal gray chalk paint
- Clear gloss sealant
Then I also made sure to get a large paint roller for the base coat and a small paint roller for the stenciling. Again, you may want to get two of each (at least) to keep your project moving!
- Mini paint roller
- Small paint roller
- Large paint roller
Without further ado, it was time to get started!
We unhooked the washer and dryer and moved them out of the room along with everything else.
Then we cleaned the floors really well — this is an easy step to skip but it’s very important! Because you’ll be painting, you’ll trap everything that remains on your floors. So clean well and thank me later!
Then it was time for the first coat of white! These base coats took no time at all. I taped up the wall with basic painter’s tape, slathered some paint on the floor and got to rolling. No really.. I can be a lazy painter sometimes, so instead of using a paint tray, I just poured small amounts of paint onto the floor. Not kidding, and not sorry!
The first coat took about 30 minutes. The kicker? Dry time. I wanted to make sure nothing went wrong with this paint job, so I waited 12-24 hours between EVERY coat of paint.
I chose to do 3 coats of white paint to make sure the floors were totally covered.
If you want to rush the base coats, be my guest, but I highly recommend waiting to start stenciling for a minimum of 24 hours.
Chalk paint is water based, and therefore washes off with soap and water. The beauty of this is that if you mess up your stenciling, you can wipe it clean with water and start over. The problem is if your base coat hasn’t set long enough, you may wipe it off too — and I don’t have to tell you that would be bad.
So give yourself a day before you start your stenciling!
Once you’re ready to stencil, it’s pretty self explanatory! Take your tile stencil, line it up in your tile (since mine was smaller, I just centered it in the tile and allowed more white space between each tile), hold that sucker down or use some painters tape, and use one of the mini rollers to begin painting.
Make sure your roller is not saturated in paint, or it will bleed. Just focus on getting a really thin coat down without the stencil moving. If you’re worried, you can use painter’s tape to tape down your stencil each time. I just used the old hand and knee trick.
Now you’d probably gather this as well, but you can’t paint your tiles in a row, because you’ll end up laying your stencil over wet paint and tracking that right along with you. Not good if you want to move fast. So I zig-zagged and staggered the tiles I painted, starting with the full, middle tiles.
Once I had done all I could do without having to place my stencil over wet paint, I called it a day and let them dry. Then the next day, I went back and filled in the gaps.
Once all the whole, middle tiles were stenciled, I took a break and let them dry again.
Once they were dry, I moved on to the edges and corners.
Now… honestly this was the tough part! The middle tiles were confidence boosters, no doubt.
This is where the two stencils comes into play. Start with the largest of the edge/corner tiles and cut ONE stencil accordingly so it lays flat on the tile, and paint. Repeat this process from largest to smallest until you’re done!
I only cut one of my stencils, but you could cut both or all of yours to move a little faster. And for other floors I've done, I haven't cut at all. It all comes down to what works best for you.
My advice? Don’t stress about making them all perfect. You will likely slip up. Your stencil will likely bleed a little bit here and there.
Once you’re finished with all the stencils, take a small paint brush and your base paint, and do a little touching up!
Then, don’t sweat the small smudges. One your whole floor is done, you won’t notice the tiny little slip-ups, trust me.
Let your stenciling dry for 24 hours again, then you can add your clear top coat! Shoot for 3-4 coats, allowing it to dry according to the instructions.
I applied 3 total coats over 36 hours, then let the clear coat sit for about 24 hours with a fan running in the room until I moved things back into the room. I highly recommend allowing each top coat to dry for a solid 12 hours at least so it cures completely! It's worth the wait for no chips later!
The final step?
Take a step back and stare at the finished project! It makes a huge impact. I literally leave my laundry room door open so I can stare at these floors, and people come over and think it’s real tile!
Resources for this project:See all materials
Cathy R on May 20, 2021
Wow !!! This is the best I’ve seen yet. Gorgeous !!!
Shelby☮️ on May 21, 2021
Great job Lauren -
I have ceramic tiles that look like your "before" photo & they drive me crazy.
Thank you for sharing.
Also - you have the patience of a Saint answering the same questions over and over and over....... eureka!!!