How I Painted My Bathroom Tile DIY
Updated: Sep 9
Who loves staring at ugly bathroom tile? Nobody, duh! For the 5+ years that I've lived in my home, I have been looking at the ugliest tile in all of my bathrooms. If you've lived in your home for a while like I have, I'm sure there's something like tiles staring at you every. single. day. These tiles were like.... really bad! If you don't believe me... just take a look:
This is the color and type of tile/grout that can never look clean. It's not something I would EVER choose, but spending the money to tear it out and replace it has never been much of a priority to me either! I had seen other people paint over their tile, but honestly I was pretty intimidated by the thought of doing that. In our hall bathroom, I did the best I could to cover the tile with a long rug - but because it didn't cover every inch of tile, I wasn't satisfied. I knew that the only way to make that bathroom halfway decent was to replace the tile. But then I thought, 'what if I transform it?!'
Here's Some Background...
When COVID-19 hit and I was suddenly spending more time at home than usual, I had the thought that it was probably time to knock some of those "someday I'll get around to it" projects off my list. I knew deep down that I didn't have much to lose even if my attempt at painting the bathroom floors backfired on me. So I went for it and didn't look back.
I'm here with some good news for you... even if you have textured floors and sloppy grout lines that aren't straight, you are capable of completely transforming them with floor paint! My husband was highly doubting the process and was totally surprised & pleased with the results when it was finished. I completed our tiny powder bathroom floor and loved it enough to do a much bigger hall bathroom. Let me share how it went...
The Inspiration + Process
The inspiration for my powder bathroom came from a beautiful home in the Salt Lake Valley Parade of Homes which I toured several years ago. I took a picture of the flooring and held onto it for what seemed like a lifetime! It never became less appealing to me, so I ordered a stencil with the pattern, while fitting it perfectly to my size of tiles. I found a company on Etsy called "Pearl Design Studio" with several options for stencils. (I can see that this company is taking a break from fulfilling orders, but I found another stencil just like mine that I'll link below.) All I had to do was provide dimensions for one square of tile. They then sent me a custom-made reusable, laser-cut stencil. I would describe it as a flexible, durable plastic that could somewhat bend when necessary (in corners, against walls, around the toilet and the pedestal sink). I used one single stencil for the whole job, washing it in between each square of tile. (That was the worst part of the process to be honest.)
This is the link for the similar stencil pattern I used, but you'll see that there are many other patterns to choose from!
Rust-Oleum Rocksolid Floor Paint - for BASE COAT in your choice of color (**I used the "tint" base" which gave my floors the white base.)
Black Chalkboard Paint - this is what I used for the black pattern in my powder bathroom, because I already had it. If you want to add a pattern (ie a different color will be needed), I would tint the base coat paint with your chosen color. This paint is truly made for floors!
Stencil - *if applicable (you could also use painters tape to create your own pattern as long as it doesn't involve round edges like my design did!)
Foam Paint Brushes - for the pattern if you're using a stencil (I had to dab the paint on with a foam brush rather than painting it on with a paint brush.)
Tiny Paint Brush - for pattern touch ups
Step 1: Clean out the room you'll be working in. Get everything off the floor and then sweep, mop, and go one step further by cleaning it again with KRUD KUTTER. This will get the grime off your floors more than the mopping process will. The paint needs a super clean floor to stick to!
Step 2: Tape off your baseboards, cabinet bases, etc.
Step 3: Paint your base color! This is the fun part, where you get to see the transformation take place really quickly! Start with just a little bit of paint on the roller, do one light coat and let it dry for 2-6 hours or so. Be aware of how you are able to access the room you're painting in. I left the section of floor that I needed to kneel on unpainted until everything else was done. Even though it only took hours to be ready for a second coat, I wouldn't trust kneeling on top of the paint within days of painting it. By doing sections at a time, I was able to complete the corners of my powder bathroom and then start and finish the entryway on the same day! You will most likely have your floor completed covered with two coats, but there's a chance you'll need three.
*I would let the base coat(s) dry for an entire day or two before moving any further.
If you aren't painting any type of pattern on your tile, skip down to step 6 next!
Step 4: Now it's time to paint your pattern onto the floor. Be methodical about which sections you paint first, keeping in mind that you'll have to allow more time between sections if you'll be kneeling on top of a painted section in order to get a different section done later on. *Disclaimer: I opted to paint with the stencil on the entryway of my bathroom first, knowing that I was going out of town between that time and when I'd be painting the pattern in the corners.
4A) To use a stencil, make sure you have it lined up to where the edges end in the middle of your grout lines. Then use painters tape to tape it down. (I didn't ever tape it down completely around all sides. Just a few pieces of tape held it down fine.
4B) When you're painting on a tile that is close to a wall, cabinet base, toilet, etc... most likely the tile will not be full size like the others, and you'll need to bend the stencil. This can be tricky and you WILL make mistakes that require touching up later on. Just know that it's kind of unavoidable but fixing it is really easy!
4C) I used a foam paint brush to dab paint over the stencil. I did this since my floors are textured and didn't provide a smooth surface for the stencil to lay down. However... I imagine it would be the best way to paint with a stencil even if your floors were smooth! IMPORTANT: DO NOT STRESS OUT IF ANY PAINT SEEPS UNDERNEATH THE STENCIL! YOU WILL FOR SURE HAVE TOUCH UPS TO DO. I learned to not spend too much time trying for perfection at this stage of the game. Tip: You'll have better luck if the foam brush isn't too wet.
4D) Once you've covered the stencil with paint, be careful as you take the tape off and lift away from the ground.
4E) The stencil needs washed off between each square of tile. I had a system where I took it into my tub, ran it under the water and then wiped clean with one towel and dried it with another. This was the most time consuming part of the project. I can't tell you how happy I was to be done using that stencil! Not because it was hard, it just required patience! Tip: I would paint one tile on the right side of the entry, wash the stencil, then paint a tile on the left side of the entry. That way I wasn't working near wet paint and messing up work I had just done.
Step 5: Time for touch ups! Take your TINY paintbrush and touch up anything necessary with your base color paint. If I can take my mistakes from a pretty sloppy looking bathroom floor, to this end result... you can too, I promise! I have a shaky hand, I can't draw straight lines for the life of me, and even still there are so many mistakes with the pattern on my bathroom floor. But unless I get down on my hands and knees and look for those mistakes, or places where the design doesn't meet up from one tile to the next exactly like it should, I can't find them even if I'm looking for them. The repeating patterns on tiles are very forgiving.
Just take a look at how imperfect they began! These tiles are by no means even, so this is a perfect way to show just how truly easy it was to correct crooked or sloppy lines with a tiny paintbrush in your background color!
Step 6: Remove the painters tape! If you've been working with a stencil, you may have a few more touch ups since we're pulling the tape off after the base coat has dried. You don't need to wait for the top contrasting color to dry before pulling it off. JUST A NOTE: Once I went through and did touch ups with my base color, I then had a few more touch ups to do with the contrasting color again. Maybe I'm the only one - but in case you have to do that as well, don't worry - it goes fast and dries fast.
*I would let everything dry for a day or two before going any further. I think I'm being over-cautious with that statement, but you'll be 100% ready for the top coat once everything done up to this point has dried. Plus, the peace of mind knowing you won't mess anything up after all that hard work put into it is totally worth the wait!
Step 7: Use a roller to apply the top coat to your floor. Use just a thin layer at a time, let it dry for 30 minutes or so, then go back and apply one more thin layer of top coat. I did just a small section of the room at a time (small enough to reach from sitting in one position, so that I would be able to apply a second coat and be done then move on). Once you've covered the whole floor with top coat, shut the door or block off the area, and avoid walking on it for 24-48 hours.
This method of transforming my bathroom floors was like MAGIC! I'm trying to find the words to describe what they feel like, now that they're done and have the top coat on which sealed the paint. I know that any type of spill will not penetrate into the floor and stain it. Mopping it clean won't ruin it. It feels slick but not slippery. I am truly blown away by the results and shocked that I really was able to transform my bathrooms into pretty spaces I actually like looking at, without tearing out the flooring and replacing it with something new. Notice I said that my bathrooms were transformed, not just my bathroom floors! This DIY project truly transformed the entire space in both bathrooms. It got me excited to actually decorate and get the walls painted.
Here's a peek at my hall bathroom that was also transformed... I simply painted the base coat and top coat (to seal) on, and opted for no pattern with a contrasting color. Skipping the pattern really made this bathroom transformation quick and easy. Just a reminder: you can do this same thing with a tinted base coat, for a color other than white!
It only took me 5 years and a worldwide pandemic to accomplish, but if I can have my dream space after putting it off for so long, so can you! I'm so excited to see how your floors turn out! Be sure to tag us on Instagram if you use this method and tell me how it went! Good luck turning your home into your dream home!
Shop my powder bathroom decor:
Shop my hallway bathroom decor:
(FYI: cabinet color is NAVAL by Sherwin Williams)