DIY

How to paint bathroom tile: floor, shower, backsplash

I’ve worked slowly for eight months, painting every surface imaginable, to update this bathroom with only paint! I painted the tile floors, grout, shower, stenciled the walls, even painted the side of the tub and backsplash! I’ve never had a more dramatic paint makeover than this room. And it cost about $261! You’ll have to see the transformation to believe it.

Painting bathroom tile - how to paint tile floors, grout, shower, plastic bathtub panel and backsplash - Kendall Charcoal paint

In this post

  • Painting the shower tile
  • Stenciling the shower tile
  • Painting the side of the bathtub and backsplash
  • Stenciling the walls
  • Painting the tile bathroom floor and grout

VIDEOS: There is a 1-minute video after each section to show you how I did each type of tile!

Painting bathroom tile - how to paint tile floors, grout, shower, plastic bathtub panel and backsplash - Kendall Charcoal paint - framed builder grade mirror

Posts coming up next

  • How to frame builder grade mirrors
  • Our unique water closet mural and how I plan to use a Sharpie on it!

Please read this first

  1. Nothing is sponsored and I will be entirely honest with you on this post. I did my best to photograph it as accurately as possible.
  2. I will do an update in 6 months and then again in a year to let you know how it holds up — or sooner if something really tanks!
  3. Painted tile is not the same as factory-made tile. Painting tile is a risk.
  4. I am not a professional. I know you know that, but here it is in black and white.
Painting bathroom tile - how to paint tile floors, grout, shower, plastic bathtub panel and backsplash - Kendall Charcoal paint

Can you paint tile?

Sure you can! I keep painting all kinds of tile. We just can’t afford to remodel. SO! I figure if I truly don’t like the tile and plan to replace it one day anyway it’s worth the risk. There are different ways to paint tile, but I have been using Stix bonding primer + oil based enamel with pretty great results.

If you’re nervous to try, my recommendation is to try an inconspicuous spot first! My first attempt at painting a floor tile with floor and porch paint chipped easily. I’m glad I started with just one and didn’t and attempt to do every tile right off the bat.

There are many ways to paint tile! I’m just sharing what I have tried. Feel free to share in the comments any ways you have painted tile and how it worked out!

Let’s get started!

I made mistakes along the way and did somethings out of order, so to make this simple, I’m going to share these tutorials in the order that I should have done them, not necessarily did them. (For example, painting the floor first was not my brightest idea, but I didn’t know I was going to paint the shower too. Or wallpaper the water closet.)

Here’s a look at the completed bathroom! I can’t believe it’s finally done!

It wasn’t that I was so against an all-white bathroom, it was that the baseboard was beat up, the grout was stained and some of the tile was scuffed. It just needed some love — and some personality!

Bathroom makeover with only paint - I painted the floor, grout, bathtub panel, backsplash, wall, even the shower - how to paint tile
Painting bathroom tile - how to paint tile floors, grout, shower, plastic bathtub panel and backsplash - Kendall Charcoal paint
Painting bathroom tile - how to paint tile floors, grout, shower, plastic bathtub panel and backsplash - Kendall Charcoal paint
Painting bathroom tile - how to paint tile floors, grout, shower, plastic bathtub panel and backsplash - Kendall Charcoal paint
Painting bathroom tile - how to paint tile floors, grout, shower, plastic bathtub panel and backsplash - Kendall Charcoal paint
Bathroom makeover with only paint - I painted the floor, grout, bathtub panel, backsplash, wall, even the shower
Bathroom makeover with only paint - I painted the floor, grout, bathtub panel, backsplash, wall, even the shower
Painting bathroom tile - how to paint tile floors, grout, shower, plastic bathtub panel and backsplash - Kendall Charcoal paint
Painting bathroom tile - how to paint tile floors, grout, shower, plastic bathtub panel and backsplash - Kendall Charcoal paint
Bathroom paint refresh - capiz shell chandelier, artificial banana palm tree
Painting bathroom tile - how to paint tile floors, grout, shower, plastic bathtub panel and backsplash - Kendall Charcoal paint
261 dollar bathroom refresh with paint - paint floor tiles, shower tiles, tile backsplash, plastic bathtub side panel, grout
Painting bathroom tile - how to paint tile floors, grout, shower, plastic bathtub panel and backsplash - Kendall Charcoal paint
Painting bathroom tile - how to paint tile floors, grout, shower, plastic bathtub panel and backsplash - Kendall Charcoal paint
Painting bathroom tile - how to paint tile floors, grout, shower, plastic bathtub panel and backsplash - Kendall Charcoal paint

Bathroom makeover cost: $261

  • Caulk $4
  • Stix bonding primer $15
  • Oil paint (2 quarts) $30
  • Latex paint $25
  • Polycrylic $19
  • Brushes/painting supplies $45
  • Leaves stencil $40
  • Circular stencil $40
  • Adhesive spray $5
  • Wood for mirrors $35
  • Liquid nails $3

Furniture source list


Shower makeover with paint - how to paint shower tile with bonding primer and oil base enamel - stencil shower tile leaves

How to paint shower tile

I was so focused on the floor and walls that the shower was kind of an afterthought. But a very happy afterthought! It turned out so unique.

If there’s one spot I’m worried about not holding up, it’s this shower floor. Two people taking daily showers is a lot. And I’m not sure I cleaned it beforehand as well as I should have. Told you I’d be honest! I’ll let you know how it goes.

WARNING: Also, you should know that the floor will be slicker when wet than regular tile. It is probably not ideal for small kids or elderly.

Stenciled shower wall - Painting shower tile - floors and walls with bonding primer and oil base enamel
Before and after painted shower floor tile
Painting shower tile - floors and walls with bonding primer and oil base enamel
Painting shower tile - floors and walls with bonding primer and oil base enamel
Oil base paint for tile - how to paint bathroom tile
Painting bathroom tile - how to paint tile floors, grout, shower, plastic bathtub panel and backsplash - Kendall Charcoal paint

Materials

Paint sheen: My link here for the oil paint has a semi-gloss sheen. They only have semi-gloss listed online, but ask for SATIN at the store.

Paint colors: I used Kendall charcoal for the floor and white out of the can for the walls.

Painting shower tile floor

IMPORTANT:

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 surrounding areas 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.

Instructions

  1. Clean and scrub the shower.
  2. Krud Kutter cuts through grease and preps tile.
  3. Apply painter’s tape where necessary. I put it around the shower head and handle, but skipped the the ceiling to save time.
  4. Open up the windows, turn on the fans! These paints are strong.
  5. Apply Stix bonding primer to the walls with the foam roller and edges with the Wooster brush.
  6. Wait a few hours and do a second coat if you really want it to stick. I only did one coat.
  7. Now start with the floor. Apply the bonding primer in the same way to the floor. Two coats are preferable on the floor.
  8. Directions say wait 3 to 4 hours to apply on top of the primer.
  9. Next, apply the oil based enamel with the foam roller and Wooster brush. I went one wall at a time because oil paint starts to become tacky. You cannot go over oil paint once it starts to dry. Take extra care not to drip or spill this stuff! It’s much different than latex paint.
  10. I used one generous coat because I was tired of painting! But you can do more if you wait for it cure for 7 days.
  11. Next, paint the floor! I did TWO COATS on the floor because it will take the most foot traffic and water.
  12. Cure time is at least 7 days!
  13. If something gets nicked or a spot was missed, use a foam brush to carefully repair it.
Painting shower tile with bonding primer and oil base paint DIY tutorial step by step

Watch this one-minute video to see me do it:


How to stencil on tile - painting bathroom tile - leaves and vines stencil handpainted overtop

How to stencil shower wall tile

When I saw the shower plain, bright white I liked it much better than the brown! BUT I also saw it as a blank canvas and thought I might as well add some detail.

I chose a beautiful chinoiserie wallpaper for our bedroom (post coming soon, though you can see it at the end) and thought I would echo the leaves in the wallpaper in the shower. So I bought this stencil of dripping leaves on Etsy.

Stenciled shower wall - Painting shower tile - floors and walls with bonding primer and oil base enamel
How to stencil on shower tile - handpainting leaves and vines over stencil
Stenciling on shower tile - how to make a stencil look handpainted - green leaves in shower

I did the stencil, but as a child of the ’80s, it looked a little too stenciled for my taste. So I decided to go over it with an artist’s brush to make it look hand painted.

How to stencil on shower tile - handpainting leaves and vines over stencil

I could not have done this freehand! I needed the stencil, but the brush took it to the next level. And it didn’t even take that long! You can see at the top how the stencil looks one-dimensional on it’s own. Adding a few colors and closing up the vine gaps makes all the difference.

How to stencil on shower tile - handpainting leaves and vines over stencil

Materials

NOTE: I used paint I already had to do this project. You could also buy samples. Oil-base paint would be ideal in the shower, but because it is higher on the wall and less likely to be touched, I went with the latex and coated it with protective finish.

painting shower stencil leaves-2

Here are the colors I used:

Instructions

  1. Loosely think about where you want the stencil to go. Don’t forget you can flip the stencil around so the leaves go the other way!
  2. Go outside and LIGHTLY spray back of stencil with adhesive. Not too much because you don’t want to pull the paint off the tile!
  3. Carefully press the stencil in the desired place.
  4. Roll the foam roller in the tray and then on an extra piece of cardboard or paper bag to get off excess paint.
  5. Apply the paint to the stencil.
  6. Pull stencil off immediately and wipe down.
  7. Allow stencil to dry for a minute and then reapply in the next position. Only spray the adhesive again if you need to.
  8. After you’ve have the pattern as you wish, start going over the leaves with the artist’s brush in various colors and darkness.
  9. After the leaves are completely dry, finish with a few coats of polycrylic. Allow 2 hours dry time between coats.
Painting shower tile and stenciling leaves
Painting and stenciling shower tile - making a stencil look like it is handpainted

HAND PAINTING TIP: It doesn’t have to be perfect. Don’t do each leaf the same. Do a section of them a little lighter and then others a little darker. The more contrast, the more realistic and interesting it is. Look a picture of actual leaves if it helps.

Watch this one-minute video to see me do it:


How to paint tile backsplash and bathtub plastic paneling - cheap bathroom makeover ideas

Painting plastic side of bathtub and backsplash

And now it’s time for the drama! This is my favorite part of the bathroom — the dramatic alcove with painted backsplash and tub panel.

Master bathroom bathtub before paint

COLOR: I first thought I would paint this pretty alcove in the bathroom a robin’s egg blue, like the inside of a shell. And it was underwhelming. So I decided to go bold and paint it Kendall Charcoal! I used this color in our last kitchen on the walls and backsplash and it went viral. I love this rich color.

How to paint tile backsplash and plastic bathtub side panel - bathroom refresh ideas
How to paint tile backsplash and plastic bathtub side panel - bathroom makeover refresh ideas

PLASTIC TUB PANEL: Then there was the side of the bathtub. It was plastic. And yellowing. And ugly. I thought about hiring someone to build around it. And then I thought, I paint everything, I should paint this too!

(Check out the condition of that baseboard caulking on the before pic! Yikes.)

How to paint tile backsplash and plastic bathtub side panel - bathroom refresh ideas

BACKSPLASH: There was nothing wrong with this backsplash per se, but nothing special either. I decided to paint over that too! Let’s get crazy.

How to paint tile backsplash and plastic bathtub side panel - bathroom refresh ideas

And it worked! Painting this whole alcove dark gray added drama and contrast. It made it so much more visually interesting.

Painting bathroom tile - how to paint tile floors, grout, shower, plastic bathtub panel and backsplash - Kendall Charcoal paint
How to paint tile backsplash and bathtub plastic paneling - cheap bathroom makeover ideas

This project was a quick fix compared to the shower! The shower was by far the most difficult task, so this was a breeze compared to that.

How to paint tile backsplash and bathtub plastic paneling - cheap bathroom makeover ideas

Materials

Semi-gloss paint is my new favorite for walls and trim! I love the sheen it gives, especially on smooth walls. Looks more expensive.

Instructions

  • Clean the tub and backsplash.
  • Tape as necessary.
  • Paint walls with latex paint.
  • Stix bonding primer would create a more durable finish, but I did not use it. One can only paint so much!
  • Paint the backsplash and plastic with the oil-base enamel using the Wooster.

That’s it! I’m the only one who really uses this tub (and I was tired of painting) so I just left it at that. And it’s held up great! If kids were going to use it, I would probably use primer first.

How to paint backsplash tile and plastic side of bathtub for a cheap bathroom update
I painted my entire bathroom - walls, ceiling, tub panel, floor, shower tile-1-1

Watch this one-minute video to see me do it:

See how I painted my daughter’s shower ombré coral in this post!


Classic circular pattern stencil in the bathroom - gray and white bathroom-1

Stenciling the walls

This post is mostly about painting tile, so I will direct you to this post on how I stenciled my entire living room for $40. I have all my stenciling tips and how-tos there — including whether you should use a brush, sponge or roller!

STENCIL: I bought this pretty circular stencil on Etsy in a size large. I used Kendall Charcoal paint.

I will say this stencil has a delicate design. That combined with using a roller produced a different result with each placement. Some areas are darker, some lighter and none of them are “perfect.” But I happen to like it that way!

Watch this one-minute video to see me do it:


How to paint bathroom tile - checkered pattern - light french gray - oil base enamel

How to paint floor tile

Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Almost! Now all is left is the floor. I actually started with my floor and it was such a headache to have so much foot traffic as I completed all the other projects! But at least now I know these will hold up ok. Anyway, that’s why I’m recommending doing floors LAST if you have several projects going on your bathroom.

How to paint floor tile and grout-3

The tile was in pretty good shape, but had a few tiles that were scuffed up. I made sure to make my checkered pattern around the ones that were the worst.

And check out the baseboard and grout in the before picture! Yuck! I had to cut out all the caulking, reapply it and paint the baseboard too.

How to paint bathroom floor tile and grout

PAINT COLOR: I love a checkered floor. It’s timeless and elegant. I chose Light French Gray for a more subtle look. I have it all over my house. You can see my house color palette in this post.

How to paint floor tile and grout
How to paint floor tile and grout
How to paint floor tile and grout
Painting bathroom tile - how to paint tile floors, grout, shower, plastic bathtub panel and backsplash - Kendall Charcoal paint
How to paint floor tile and grout

Materials

How to paint floor tile and grout

Instructions

  1. Clean floor well. Make sure all hair and particles are gone.
  2. Use Krud Kutter to make sure nothing is left on the tile.
  3. Use painter’s tape where necessary on the walls. Don’t bother with trying to tape the tiles. That would be too difficult and time consuming.
  4. Use the Wooster to neatly paint each tile with bonding primer. See the video below for a visual. I did a checkered pattern so I painted every other one.
  5. Use an artist’s brush to small crevices.
  6. Let dry according to directions.
  7. Apply the oil-base enamel with the Wooster brush, careful to not get it on the grout.
  8. Touch up any scuffs or problem areas afterward with a foam brush so you don’t have to ruin a painter’s brush.
  9. Optional: After a few days add 1-2 coats of polycrylic finish with a sponge brush. I did this to make sure they are easy to clean and to add an extra layer of durability.
  10. Let this cure for as many days possible to ensure the best result.
How to paint tile floors in checkered pattern - French Gray - oil base enamel - bathroom tile

Watch this one-minute video to see me do it! I’m also painting grout in the end. That tutorial is next!


How to paint grout - the easiest way to update stained and dirty grout lines

How to paint grout

The grout was originally white, but was yellowed and dirty in some spots. It was pretty ugly, but still in tact. I decided to clean it and then paint it darker.

If I ever have the opportunity to pick my own tile and grout I will definitely go with darker grout! Even when white tile is clean it can stain. And who wants to seal grout lines every year?!

I read so many articles and was confused about the best way to paint grout. Some of the products are expensive too! I decided I would take the simplest route possible and just see what happens. And it worked!

How to paint floor tile and grout
How to paint floor tile and grout

Materials

NOTE: If you can’t find porch and patio floor paint in a quart size you could try a $3 latex sample size in the flattest sheen possible (flat/matte). I just happened to have the floor paint and so I used that.

How to paint bathroom tile floor grout dark gray

Instructions

  1. Mix ratio of 1:1 water and paint
  2. Use a small brush to paint the grout!
  3. Keep a paper towel nearby to clean up any paint outside the grout lines.

Pretty simple, right?! My grout was porous so it seeped right in and looks brand new!


Painting bathroom tile - how to paint tile floors, grout, shower, plastic bathtub panel and backsplash - Kendall Charcoal paint

I also removed all the baseboard caulking and painted the trim white. I’m not fancy, I just used plain old white right out of the can! I do that so that so I never have to remember a color and can easily patch up moulding. I also like the bright pop of the white!

Painting bathroom tile - how to paint tile floors, grout, shower, plastic bathtub panel and backsplash - Kendall Charcoal paint

The only thing I would like to change (but probably won’t) are the yellowing countertops. It doesn’t bother me too much, but when everything is stark white, it makes them stand out too much.

I’ve read you can use appliance epoxy spray ($4) to update countertops. I would definitely try it except I would have to remove the faucet and tape EVERYTHING off and I’m not down for another project in here right now!

Coming up:

  • How to frame builder grade mirrors
  • Our unique water closet mural and how I plan to use a Sharpie on it!
261 dollar bathroom refresh with paint - paint floor tiles, shower tiles, tile backsplash, plastic bathtub side panel, grout

And just in case you thought I was going to go jump in that inviting bath when I finished this post — this is what was going on behind me when I was taking photos! Haha! Chaos:


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