Asked on May 04, 2014

How successful is it to paint shower tiles?

by Louise
My shower tiles are original to my house, built in 1979. I'm putting in tile flooring (currently it's sheet vinyl), painting the walls and mirror frame and putting in a vanity (previously had only a sink attached to the wall) which I'm painting to match the mirror frame -- both a soft teal-like color. It's a VERY small bathroom. The paint I've chosen is a light gray with very warm undertones and my current 4 x 4 shower tiles are beige. I chose the warm graybecause it will look OK with the tiles. BUT I'd rather have a grayish tile but don't want to spend the money to have new tiles installed. I've read online about painting the tiles but I'm confused. One recommendation was a Rustoleum product meant for tiles, but it only comes in 3 colors and gray isn't among them. I've seen where others have used regular paint. Some have suggested lightly sanding the tiles, then applying Kilz, then paint. One photo showed the paint peeling after a while. I do NOT want to re-do this job if I decide to do it. Suggestions? (The photo is not of my tiles, but they're this kind -- very shiny surface.)
  15 answers
  • Mary Byrne Mary Byrne on May 04, 2014
    If you are going to paint the tiles I would only use paint that is meant for tiles. I don't think that "regular paint" would adhere and in the end would start to peel off, leaving you with quite a mess.
  • 117135 117135 on May 04, 2014
    Here is a link to this "This old house" I would use what they have stated since it was recommend from a tile contractor.,,20210751,00.html We paid to have ours done and that was 11 years ago, so worth the money. The paint is now starting to wear off the grout lines, but still looks pretty good on the tile parts.
  • Funnygirl Funnygirl on May 05, 2014
    I believe if you paint the tile first with kilz then paint with a good enamel paint should work
  • Melinda Melinda on May 05, 2014
    My parents used the Rustoleum. I was thinking they had it mixed to a color they wanted. I painted tile around a fireplace. You can check it out on under Pages
  • Margie*Lee Margie*Lee on May 06, 2014
    Our bathroom once had that sheeting tile that was supposed to look like marble...ugly! I decided to paint it and first I cleaned it really well and then I primed it and painted it with semi-gloss paint. For me, it worked out very well. It was still washable after painting and it lasted for several years until we had our bathroom remodeled. I didn't use any special paint of any kind and it worked for me.
  • Margie*Lee Margie*Lee on May 06, 2014
    Keep in mind that you said "sheeting" and that means it's not ceramic. I did not use Kilz or any special paint. I had NO peeling with what I did and used and it lasted for several years and would probably still be looking as good as it did but we remodeled our bathroom last summer.
  • Caroline Hall Caroline Hall on May 06, 2014
    I have done this twice in my own old farm house AND in a rental property. DEFINATELY use Sherwin Williams BONDING primer and then, I used Rustoleum (due to oil base it is much more resilient, water beads up on it, it is easy to clean) OR, you can use SW Alkyd Acrylic paint in the green labeled can. There is also a brand of paint made specifically for painting formica (or any surface like the wall board you are attempting to cover). I have used the SW Bonding primer & other types of Acrylic paint on formica as well with EXCELLENT results, no chipping or peeling.
  • Darcy Darcy on May 06, 2014
    I have done several linoleum, wood and ceramic floors, walls and counter tops with paint. A good cleaning, light sanding and good primer like kilz will get you started in the right direction. When you have painted and achieved the look you were going for, I would use several coats of polyurethane to add protection to your paint job! I like Varathane brand water base sealer/polyurethane. I painted my bathroom tiles two or three years ago and they still look great!
  • I painted my bathroom tile with a sand texture paint. I don't recall the brand name, but I purchased it at Home Depot. I loved it and it was very durable. The texture made the tile look very expensive.
  • Maria DeAngelis Maria DeAngelis on May 07, 2014
    I would hire a company that does tub reglazing. Our bathtub was brown and I had it sprayed white in 2008, no peeling and still looks brand new. It's the only tub in the house for more entire family of 4 so it gets lots of use. I don't need to use special cleaner or anything either. Price was about 1/4 the price of a new tub, not sure how much it would be for tile but it's worth looking into. At least you'll know the finish will last.
  • Minuet Stephens Minuet Stephens on May 07, 2014
    I painted my shower several years ago. Make sure you keep a jar of leftover paint so you can dry off any spot that is lifting or damaged, dab on some paint and let it dry for a day. I've found that quickly treating any breaks in the seal make them quick fixes instead of major works. I clean with a microfibre cloth and some shampoo - never need anything else.
    • Barb Barb on Nov 10, 2016
      We did our tub, all the tile around our tub & our entire bathroom about 6 -7 years ago. The only trouble we've had is a few spots on our tile of our shower surround. My husband used some really harsh cleaner & a scrub brush, so I'm pretty sure that didn't help either!
  • Helene Salowitz Helene Salowitz on May 07, 2014
    Don't do it @Louise, you will have to redo it or remove after a while. It happened to me.
  • Dgalella Dgalella on May 07, 2014
    Check out Spreadstone Wall Tile Refinishing by Daich. This is what I plan to use, same issue of current tiles are wrong color. Unfortunately you may have to go by website colors since it is a Canadian company with few US stores.
    • Regina Regina on Aug 03, 2019

      Daich will send you samples. E-mail contact information is on their website. They sent me samples for countertop refinishing.

  • Louise Louise on May 07, 2014
    I just looked at the Spreadstone product and it might be my solution. I also saw a Rustoleum product that comes in more than 3 colors and it also has a textured surface. One thing I wonder about the textured surface is how easy is it to keep it clean? With the current tile I have -- the very smooth surface -- soap scum accumulates on it and is hard to get off. Would a textured surface be nearly impossible to keep clean or would the texture just disguise it where no one would KNOW it's not clean? Any ideas?
  • Regina Regina on Aug 03, 2019

    I think Spreadstone will do paint color customizations. Daich will send you samples of their products. They sent me countertop samples. I emailed them from the website.