How to Paint Ceramic Tile in the Kitchen | A Step-By-Step Process

Ceramic tiles are an ideal choice for kitchens due to their durability, low maintenance, and easy cleanup. In spite of their lasting powers, they may end up looking old due to wear & tear or out of place in your modern kitchen, especially if you decide to redecorate the kitchen.

However, before you make the decision to get rid of them and replace them entirely – consider painting over them instead. It costs a lot less compared to replacement and is a fun project to take on if you are someone who enjoys doing crafty things.

While it does need some prep work, it is simple and easy enough for any novice DIY-er to pick up. So, here we’ll teach you how to paint ceramic tiles in the kitchen.

Things You Will Require

painting tools

You need the following items for this project-

  • Painter’s Tape
  • Abrasive Tile Cleaner
  • Regular and Scrub Sponge
  • Drop Cloth
  • 200-grit Sandpaper or Orbital Sander (Optional, if you have on hand)
  • Bonding Primer
  • Dust Mask
  • Paintbrush and/or Paint Roller
  • Paint Tray
  • Latex Paint

Note that the project is doable without an orbital sander; having one will just fasten up the process and make it easier, but you can certainly do without. So, do not sweat it if you do not own one. Another thing to be careful of is that surfaces exposed to direct moisture such as kitchen countertops are not ideal for this project.

Frequent and direct contact with water may cause the paint to bubble up and peel away in a few weeks. So, stick to the walls and/or floors only. Another thing to keep in mind is that you can apply several coats of the paint for additional protection and long-lasting color.

Now that you have everything on hand and are ready to get started, let’s dive in!

Step 1: Preparation of the Tiles

You need to do some prep work before you can actually paint, which includes removing the dirt and debris from the surface, then removing the high-gloss film that covers the ceramic tile. The film makes the paint less likely to stick to and needs to be sand down.

Firstly, open the windows to ensure good airflow. Apply the abrasive cleaner on the tiles and scrub with a sponge to remove the dirt and debris from the ceramic tiles. Let the cleaner sit for 20 minutes or more depending on the cleaner instruction, then rinse it off with water and a damp sponge. Leave it to completely dry for a few hours.

After the tiles are dry, they are ready for the next process, which is sanding. Put on a dust mask to protect yourself from the fine sanded particles. Then use the 200-grit sandpaper or the orbital sander for sanding the entire surface of the tiles. After you are done, wipe the tiles with a damp sponge and let them dry fully again.

The second drying time usually needs around 30 minutes. Check to see when the ceramic tiles are dry and ready for the next step.

Step 2: Applying the Primer on the Tiles

Using a primer is very important in this project, so definitely do not skip this step. The primer is used so that it would help the paint stick better to your kitchen tiles and also repel any moisture which may build up. Make sure the primer you are using is a bonding primer so that it will accurately stick to the ceramic tiles.

Place a drop cloth on the kitchen floor and use painter’s tape to cover the borders of anything that you do not wish to get the paint on (windows, doors, sinks, towel bars, etcetera). Remember to keep the windows open for proper ventilation.

Then, use a small amount of bonding primer and apply the primer to a small area of a ceramic tile and grout. Let it dry. It is important to start small because in case the primer bubbles up or does not stick, you will need to clean it all up. Surely, it’s better to try a small area first rather than painting the whole wall and having it peel on you.

If the primer passes the test and sticks, you can go ahead and use a paintbrush or roller to apply the primer to the rest of the tile. Leave it to dry as per instructions of the manufacturer, and your ceramic tiles are ready for the next step.

Step 3: Painting the Ceramic Tiles

After the primer is fully applied and dried, the ceramic tiles are ready to be painted. Stir the paint in the pot and then pour in a paint tray. Brush or roll a single coat of your paint on the tile surface – try to get even coverage when doing so. Let the paint dry thoroughly before you apply more coats.

If the paint instructions recommend sanding the paint lightly in between coats, do so. Remember to wipe away the residue using a damp cloth if you sand the paint. Apply a second coat.

Two coats of paint and one coat of primer should be enough for tiles where moisture is not that directly or frequently present, but you can add more if you want.

For places with a higher probability of exposure to moisture, such as near kitchen countertops, you may apply several layers of polyurethane sealer, which will make a water-resistant surface. This surface will also prevent black soot from forming caused by smoke.

What Type of Paint to Use?

A ceramic tile will need a glossy or semi-glossy paint that sticks easily and is easier to clean as well. So, you cannot use any type of paint you can get your hands on. Keeping that in mind, you have two options – Alkyd Paint or Oil-based Paint.

Alkyd paints are easier to find in local hardware stores. If you are using Alkyd paint, make sure to sand off the high-gloss finish of the ceramic tiles before painting. Oil-based paints usually stick better than Alkyd paints and require multiple coats for the best glossy finish.

Can You Use Stencils for Styling?

Stencils for Styling

The answer to that is yes. You most definitely can. It helps to tie the complete look of the whole kitchen and to complement the rest of the kitchen design well. You will need at least two different colors for this. Once the base color is dry, you can apply the stencil on top; secure it with painter’s tape and paint with your desired color.

For finer details, you might need to use a stencil brush, but usually, a standard paintbrush or roller does the job well. If you use a stencil to create designs and patterns, you should also apply a polyurethane sealer on top.


That’s all, folks! This was all that you needed to know about painting ceramic kitchen tiles by yourself. The DIY project is fairly easy and inexpensive for the finished results. So, get your inner interior designer mode on and get painting. I hope you have fun while doing it, too!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

19 − eleven =

Scroll to Top