Homeowners install ceramic tiles on walls, floors, shower stalls, backsplashes and countertops to create a durable, easy to clean and attractive area. Ceramic tiles come in a wide variety of styles, shapes, colors and prices that fit into many budgets and design styles. Using the wrong cleaning products can cause the tile’s finish and color wear off making the tile look worn, old and dingy. Over time tastes and styles change, which then make the ceramic tile’s color and pattern look dated. Cutting foods directly on a ceramic tile countertop will leave the tiles with scratches and nicks which really take away from the look of the tile. Regardless of the reason you no longer find your tiles visually pleasing, you can change the color without having to rip the tiles up. As long as they are in fairly good condition and are firmly attached to the substrate, you can change the color.
Preparing the Ceramic Tile
Open the windows in the room in which you are working. Put on a mask and rubber gloves.
Vacuum floors, walls or countertops to remove dust, dirt and loose debris.
Clean the surface with one of the following:
Mix equal amounts of non-sudsing household ammonia and water in a bucket. Dip a nylon scrubbing pad or stiff bristled nylon brush into the mixture and scrub the surface and grout to remove stuck on dirt, wax or soap scum.
Spray the ceramic tile surface with trisodium phosphate substitute and scrub the grout and tile surface with a stiff bristle nylon brush or nylon scrubbing pad to remove wax, dirt or soap scum.
Rinsing the Cleaner
Fill a spray bottle with water and liberally spray walls, shower stalls and backsplashes to rinse the cleaning agent.
Fill a bucket with plain water and dip a clean sponge or string mop into the water and mop the floors to remove all ammonia or trisodium phosphate substitute residue.
Repairing Tile Before Changing the Color
Examine the ceramic tiles for chips, cracks and loose tiles.
Mix two part clear epoxy on a disposable plastic plate.
Press the putty into chips, cracks or nicks in the tile until it sits slightly above the surface of the tile.
Remove and reglue loose tiles with an epoxy based bonding agent made expressly for ceramic tile.
Let the epoxy repairs dry for four to six hours.
Preparing the Tile for primer and Paint
Wrap a piece of 220-grit sandpaper around a sanding block.
Sand all tile surfaces to remove any remnants of the shiny finish. If soap scum or wax remained stubbornly on the tile surface, sand it off with the sandpaper.
Vacuum the floors, walls or countertops with an upholstery brush attached to a vacuum.
Wipe the tile surface with a tack rag to remove any excess sanding dust.
Preparing the Rest of the Room for Paint
Lay strips of low tack blue painter’s masking tape along the edges of surfaces that meet the ceramic tiles such as floors, cabinets, walls, light switches, light fixtures and mirrors. If you are not planning on repainting the grout lines, protect them with painter’s masking tape.
Place tarps or drop cloths over the floors, sink, bathtubs or whatever else you need to protect.
Priming the Ceramic Tiles for Paint
Pour a epoxy based primer into a painter’s tray. Choose an epoxy primer that does not require etching and made for adhesion to smooth surfaces.
Roll a ¼ inch nap roller through the primer.
Roll a coat of primer over the tiles.
Allow the primer to set for 15 to 20 minutes and remove the tape from the grout lines. Use the pointed end of a utility knife to cut away any stuck tape – do not pull because you will create an uneven line.
Let the primer dry completely.
Wrap a piece of 320-grit sandpaper around a sanding block and lightly sand the dry primer.
Wipe the walls with a tack cloth to remove the excess dust.
Lay new painter’s masking tape over the grout lines.
Roll on a second coat of primer.
Wait 15 to 20 minutes and remove the tape from the grout lines.
Let the primer dry for four to six hours.
Changing the Color of the Ceramic Tile
Lay painter’s masking on the grout lines.
Pour an epoxy paint into a painter’s tray. Dip a high quality china paintbrush into the paint and paint along the areas where walls and ceiling meet or where the tile encounters cabinets, corners or other surfaces that are not being painted.
Roll a ¼ inch nap paint roller through the epoxy paint and roll it over the tile.
Remove the tape from the grout lines.
Let the paint dry for four to six hours.
Reapply the tape to the grout lines.
Cut into corners and areas where the ceramic tile encounters other surfaces with a china paintbrush and then roll on the epoxy paint.
Continue with this pattern to apply two to three coats of paint, allowing each coat to dry for four to six hours in between applications and changing the tape on the grout.
Put on a Sealing Coat of Clear Epoxy
Applying a coat of clear epoxy sealant is not a requirement, but it is recommended for high traffic area.
Paint on three to four coats of clear sealer with a ¼ inch nap roller. You do not have to protect the grout lines when applying a clear sealer. Allow each coat of the clear sealer to dry four to six hours in between applications.
Ceramic Tile painting Tips
After the last coat of sealer dries completely, score the remaining low tack painter’s masking tape with a sharp utility knife before removing it.
Before rolling on the first coat of sealer, consider stenciling a design onto the face of the tile to create a unique and personalized wall, floor, countertop or backsplash. If you are artistically inclined – you can paint a mural onto the tiles and then seal it with three to four coats of clear epoxy.