Do you have ugly tile in the bathroom? You can paint it! I gave the tile in Clara’s bathroom a makeover for about $60 (including brushes). This has been by far the most asked tutorial I’ve gotten on Instagram and I finally finished it!
This painted ombré tile wall didn’t require many tools or materials, just patience and a steady hand. You can do this! I’ll show you each and every step of the way.
You can also see me doing it step by step on Instagram, it’s saved in my highlights under “Kids baths.”
In dreamland I would like to renovate all three of our bathrooms, but that’s not even on the radar with our budget! So I have a plan to give them each a makeover with only a couple hundred dollars each, starting with Clara’s.
Because I didn’t love the existing tile and I hope to redo the bathrooms in the coming years, I decided to go bold! Bright coral and ombré pink bold! That way if I completely botched it, it wouldn’t be too bad.
In addition to painting the tile, we also changed out the sink and tub faucets, drains and added some moulding on the wall. The moulding was SUPER simple: The Easiest Wainscoting!
The only thing I have left to do in here is frame the mirror.
The cacti mural on the wall is actually a tapestry. I used small nails to nail it up. I already had this and couldn’t believe it fit the space almost perfectly. It even has one pop of coral in it that ties in the tile!
The 3-tiered shelf is from Amazon. I’m not sure I recommend it, haha! It’s super cute, but difficult to put together and I didn’t even do it right. I included the link in case you’re like me and aesthetics win.
So let’s get to it! Here’s how I painted the wall:
- Utility knife
- Small foam roller
- Wooster angled paint brush
- 1 quart bonding primer
- 1 quart white satin enamel oil-based interior/exterior paint
- 1 quart Benjamin Moore Coral Gables satin enamel oil-based interior/exterior paint
I can’t find the exact link on the Home Depot website for the oil-based enamel, but they have it in the stores. I went with a satin finish.
I seriously lucked out with the color Coral Gables! I looked up all the rooms labeled Coral Gables online and examined the color swatch to see what its color variants would be. When white is added it transitions from a fun bubble gum to a beautiful ballet pink!
- Remove old caulking with utility knife. Score the top and bottom of the caulk to loosen it.
- Remove faucet and know if you are replacing them. Otherwise, you can paint around it. I painted around the shower head.
- Wash tile.
- Sand tile if it is a slick surface. (I did not sand because the tile is stone and rough.)
- Roll on two thin coats of bonding primer with the foam roller.
- Allow to cure. The directions say to wait 7 days.
IT’S IMPORTANT TO READ THIS PART:
Oil-based paint is sticky, messy to clean up and takes much longer to cure than water-based paint. Handle it with care and if you’re new to painting, be sure to cover your tub well with plastic.
The oil paint’s odor is very strong. Open windows, turn on the exhaust fan. You can wear a mask. Keep the door shut when you are done.
Oil enamel is more difficult to work with, BUT because it dries slowly, you have time to correct mistakes. Also, after it has time to cure it becomes very hard and is more chip-resistant. I did not make any attempt to save my brushes as they’re nearly impossible to clean.
I did not use tape. I got asked a lot on Instagram how I did this without tape! I used the angled brush and carefully and slowly followed the top of the grout line. It’s not as difficult as you think!
- Paint the bottom row Coral Gables, straight from the can.
- Mix 1 cup of coral and 1/4 cup of white in a cup or tray.
- Paint the second row, using the top of the grout as your guide.
- Wipe off as much of the paint on the brush as you can.
- Add another 1/4 cup of white and paint the third row.
- By the fourth row I started adding a little bit more than the 1/4 cup. It was probably more like a half a cup. You can eyeball it. I wanted to make sure the top was pale pink.
- There is a boarder on this tile, so I decided to paint it with the white enamel.
- Let this cure for a long time! I let it cure for over a week before Clara used the shower. Oil paint takes a long time to dry, but it’s worth it!
- After you’re certain the paint has hardened, recaulk the tub and install new hardware.
TIP: Drips are hard because, unless you save a little paint from each row (which I didn’t!), you won’t have the same color to cover them up. I got lucky and this drip was on the bottom row, so I just used straight Coral Gable. The other couple drips I got, I carefully wiped them off and blended them in. You can’t see them at all.
Don’t put too much paint on your brush and pay attention to how the paint is puddling at the top when you make straight lines and you shouldn’t have much dripping.
I took the faucet and drain out off the wall because we wanted to replace them. This is a fairly simple procedure IF you have a newer plumbing system. If you don’t (like us) I would call someone. Moen doesn’t make parts to fit the this setup anymore. We learned that after six trips to Home Depot!
We found a shower knob made by another company that will fit older Moen models. It’s not fantastic quality, but it’s fine.
If you are not replacing them, just paint around them! You can use an artist’s brush if your Wooster is too bulky.
Also hard water corroded the drain so much that it broke when I tried to take it out. So we had to buy a special tool to get it out! It was worth it in the end though!
Changing the sinks out was doable, but more difficult than we thought because the drain was completely rusted through. Lots of YouTubing and Marcello figured it out. You could do this one by yourself. Despite having a DIY blog, we are super not handy! Haha!
I found inexpensive faucets. I kind of wish I would have found some that are smudge resistant instead, but no complaining. This looks one million percent better!
Will it hold up?
I did this two months ago and it’s perfect so far. I had quite a few messages on Instagram from people who used oil enamel in their showers and say it’s still perfect. I painted the backsplash in the kitchen at our last house and it was perfect for at least two years (my most popular post EVER). I’ve been very impressed with oil-enamel.
I’ve also tried to scratch it with my fingernail to see how durable it is and nothing comes off. I’ll be sure to post an update in a year or so!
Be sure to follow me on Pinterest and Instagram! I share a lot of ideas and frugal tips on Instagram (especially in stories) that don’t develop into full posts here.
17 thoughts on “DIY painted coral ombré shower tile”
It looks so cool! One of these days I’ll get brave and try oil based enamel.
You can do it! It’s not that bad and I find it much more durable than water-based options.
I love Moen products as they have a lifetime guarantee. You can get them free by calling Moen directly. Don’t deal with Home Depot as they can’t possibly keep up with all their different manufactures for all parts. Moen Service is very easy to work with.
Love your new bright, cheerful bathroom!!!
Thanks, Judy. I didn’t even think about dealing with Moen directly, but Home Depot let us return 4 or 5 shower sets so my hat is off to them! And they did carry the conversion kit so I can’t complain!
Hi Kate, this is really a “from drab to fab” bathroom project. I so love the coral color, the make-over is stunning. After framing your mirror, take a photo of Clara’s reflection and post it, then the bathroom is complete with your little Princess. Well done, you always come introducing new ideas which are stunning.
Thanks so much, Elize! It’s making me crazy that it’s all done except the frame, but it will just have to wait. Then I’ll get that picture! Thanks again for the encouragement. xo
What do you think about using the bonder and oil based paint on counter tops? Think it would last fairly well? Mine are tile with grout, like your back splash. Been wanting to give them a face lift.
Hmmmm. I think if I were doing countertops I would do something more durable like Rustoleum appliance epoxy. You can buy a spray can for $4! You just have to tape everything off. Pinterest it ;)
How do you find cleaning the shower tiles? What products do you use? I’m think about painting my tiles but afraid that the paint might come off after a while cleaning it. Thanks. It looks beautiful.
Looks like it’s been a year since I painted it. It has a couple nicks where my daughter plays with her toys in the bath. I don’t have to clean the tiles all that often because she still only takes baths and doesn’t use the shower head. But I used watered down dish soap and microfiber cloth to clean it. It still makes me smile every time I walk in!
This is amazing!! 🙌 I’ve been searching for months for a blog post to give me the confidence to tackle my outdated stone/tile. Have you ever tried Topside Marine Paint? I’m thinking of attempting this as the shower is very heavily used (4 kids) and not sure oil enamel will hold up.
I haven’t tried it, but recently someone told me that boat paint was the way to go for tile with a lot of use! Let me know if you try it!
This is just beautiful! I’m so glad I can get this paint here in the UK! Really glad my partner loves this colour gradient too, so I got the green light to redo the bathroom :)
I just have one question, Kate: what size is your bathtub?
That’s great, Geraldine! Our tub is 29 inches x 58 inches
Hello turned out great! I am painting the guest shower tile. I am using the same primer and paint as you did. Can you provide update as to how it is holding up? I am nervous to do this! I am also curious if there is anymore comment from the use of boat paint instead. Did you use a sealer over the paint? Thank you!
The shower held up fine for a year, but we have a leak behind it I think — so we haven’t used it in awhile. So it still looks perfect but we don’t use it every day. I’d say it’s a great solution for 2 to 4 years and then it will probably have to be replaced or repainted. I did not use a sealer on the floor. And I’m sorry, I don’t know anything more about the boat paint 😬