Painted Tile Floors: A Step-by-Step Tutorial

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There’s a hot new DIY trend floating around Instagram and Pinterest: painted ceramic tile floors! I recently tapped into this trend by painting our basement bathroom tile floors. Here’s my experience.

Basement bathroom before updates.


Why Painted Tile Floors?

The sink, vanity and toilet were in need of a replacement for the bathroom to be usable. We had many discussions about how much we would or would not do while the bulky elements of the bathroom were removed. Although we desired new tile floors, we knew that we would likely make bigger changes down the road. The tile floor is cemented down to the concrete slab of the basement which requires a chisel to remove. Neither one of us wanted to spend that kind of time until we knew the ultimate plan for space. We wanted an easy inexpensive update for the bathroom to be functional and more pleasant to the eye.

The tiles and grout were 40-years-old and looked their age. No amount of cleaning would make the floors look clean and new, but painting the floors would give a new, fresh and updated look. In addition, the floors are very slippery when wet, and painting would add texture to reduce slick tiles.

Step 1: Clean

Clean and remove all items. If you plan on replacing large items like a toilet or vanity, remove those first. Painting around some objects is difficult, and cleaner edges can be made without them in the way.

The floors have to be cleaned of all dust and particles to ensure that the paint will adhere directly to the tiles. Some other DIYers go a step further and also lightly sand their tiles. Sanding the tiles will help remove any finish and help paint to adhere. I did not sand my tiles because 40 years of use should have removed some finish.

Step 2: Test, Practice and Prep

In the corner where the vanity will be placed, I tested the colors and patterns I had. I used this opportunity to also get comfortable with my stencil and the best method to prevent bleeding. Finally, before starting, I placed blue painters tape anywhere that I did not want my paint to touch.

Step 3: Paint the Base Coat

Paint your base coat. I have seen many DIYers use a primer that is specific for tiles, but I did not. I painted my tiles directly with chalk paint as my underlying base coat. To paint the base coat, I used a 6-inch foam roller. It took two coats and 16 ounces of AmericanaDECOR Chalky Finish. I found the paint at several local hardware and craft stores. My bathroom is very small and the small amount did the job. For this project, I used the color Primitive for my base coat.

Side note, I have another tiled bathroom floor to paint that is very high traffic. To ensure the longevity of the paint, I plan on using a primer in addition to these other steps.

Step 4: Stencil

After letting the base coat sit and dry well, I began to stencil with a custom fit flexible stencil from PearlDesignStuido. Because the edges of the stencil overlap a little with the adjoining tiles, I had to stencil every other tile to prevent smudging my pattern.  My stencil was a small 4×4 pattern, therefore, it was easy for me to hold it on each tile without any stencil adhesive or tape. I used a 2-inch foam roller to roll my stencil. My top coat color was Everlasting which is also AmericanaDECOR Chalky Finish. 

Skip every other tile to prevent smudging.


Step 5: Finish Coat

After the floor dries well, remove any dust or particles on the floor. Cover with a top coat. I personally used a waterbased polyurethane made for floors in a satin finish and a 6-inch roller to apply each coat. Three different coats were applied at least 6 hours apart according to the manufacturer instructions. According to the manufacturer, I did not have to sand in between polyurethane coats if the recommended dry time was followed. Check out the finished painted tile floor below and stay tuned for the rest of the bathroom updates and why we only buy outdated homes!

Patined tile floor colors: Everlasting and Primitive


Cost: Approximately $40 and a lot of patience. I had the polyurethane leftover from a previous project, but it originally cost me around $40.

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