Can you paint a tile floor? Expert advice for a durable, long lasting finish

Wondering whether you can paint a tile floor? The idea divides designers but you can make it work in your home

Can you paint a tile floor? Large bathroom with blue striped wallpaper, red and white chequerboard flooring, traditional white bath, sink and toilet, bamboo square mirror, wooden cabinet, two wall lamps beside mirror, botanical prints above bath with wooden frames
(Image credit: Otto Tiles)

Can you paint a tile floor? This question is known to provoke designers and paint experts alike – but why is it so controversial?

If you're looking to create contrast through monochromatic floor tile ideas or flirting with bold tile trends, paint may seem like a simple solution. After all, it's a sound choice when elevating any other surface in your home. However, designers warn that while painted tiles may look good temporarily, there is a risk that your efforts will not stand the test of time. 

The good news, however, is that armed with the expert paint ideas here, you can preserve your painted tiles and enjoy a professional finish that lasts. 

Can you paint a tile floor? 

'Painting tile can be a great way to improve a space; I've done it a slew of times,' says Lauren Byington, the co-founder of Warren & Lauren. The designer adds that are many reasons why you may want to turn to paint including if you want to paint over tile with a new color, color match (in an effort to restore tile), stencil tile, or simply clean grout then paint it as a refresh. 

Colorful dining room space with yellow and green painted walls, blue tiled floor, light wood rounded dining table, blue bobbin stool, light wood dining chair

(Image credit: Little Greene)

'Professionals may disagree on whether painting tile is a good idea, but, done right, I attest that it is a fantastic option,' Lauren says. 'I've had personal success painting tile by prepping with a good primer, painting over tile and grout completely, then epoxy-sealing the project.'

Can I change the color of my floor tiles without replacing them?

Yes, as Lauren Byington, the co-founder of Warren & Lauren explains, overhauling your tiles with paint 'can be a fairly quick process and it costs less than re-tiling a space’. 

'Additionally, with the exception of application and dry time, painting tile doesn't put your bathroom or kitchen out of use for a long period of time, and it's a relatively clean process,' the designer adds. 

Traditional wooden unit with two round sinks in a bathroom with Victorian floor tiles in blue and yellow.

(Image credit: Future)

How can I update my floor tiles without removing them?

Whether you're looking to upgrade your entryway, kitchen, or bathroom floor tile ideas, it's more than possible to paint a tile floor, but what does the method involve? Here's what you need to know. 

1. Clean the tiles thoroughly 

It’s crucial to clean tiles before painting, so never skip this step. Use a tile cleaner and an abrasive sponge to clean them thoroughly, or try wire wool. Concentrate on the grout, too, as this also needs to be clean. If the tiles are throughly clean before you start, the paint will adhere better to them for a good finish and long-lasting results.

2. Use epoxy for prolonged longevity

You may have heard that primer is effective in prolonging your painted tile's lifespan; however, while this does make a difference, it is not as powerful as epoxy (which you can buy via Amazon here). 

'Many professionals recommend a primer, even contending that the success of your tile-painting project hinges on a good primer. However, it won't make a paint that won't do the job become durable or long-lasting,' Lauren says. 'For long-lasting effects, epoxy over your project.' 

Before using epoxy, the designer recommends vetting your paint choices to decide on the strength of the epoxy. 'If painting tile completely, I strongly suggest going with professional-grade epoxy that you can tint accordingly. If stenciling, go with a latex that you will later seal with clear epoxy.'

Contemporary kitchen space with blue striped tiled flooring, blue kitchen cabinets, oval shaped kitchen island with marble countertop, black and light wood counter chairs, large green plant in basket, two pendants hanging above island

(Image credit: Otto Tiles)

3. Invest in the correct paint

While using epoxy is important, choosing durable paint is equally influential in improving the lifespan of your painted tiles. Hubert Miles from Home Inspection Insider urges you to check that your paint is formulated for tiles, especially if you're working with your shower room or kitchen tile ideas where they will endure a high level of foot traffic. 

How long does tile paint last?

Depending on floor prep and foot traffic, tile paint can last six months to two years. However, as certified master inspector Hubert Miles suggests, you can touch up your floor with the same paint to maintain a 'fresh painted' look always. 

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.