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Can you paint bathroom shower and tile?

A woman painting the wall of her bathroom.

Are you tired of the dull, muted color and drab style of your shower and tiles in your bathroom but are not ready to spring for a complete renovation? If so, this is the information you have been searching for because your shower and tile can actually be painted to spruce it up and make your bathroom beautiful again. To paint your bathroom shower and tiles properly, there are a few things you need to know first.

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Endless Options

While new bathroom tiles and shower stalls come in an array of options, by painting you get to choose exactly what you want. The most popular options for tile materials, such as porcelain, ceramic, quarry tile, and natural stones like limestone, granite, slate, marble, and travertine, are available in solid colors or patterns but still may not be exactly what you have in mind.

Painting gives you the advantage of darkening, lightening, or applying a certain pattern to your bathroom tiles that you would not be able to do if you simply installed new tiles. Also, if you decide in two years you want to change your bathroom up again, you can simply paint using a different color or pattern of colors.

Save Some Money

Two kids playing with paint in the bathroom.

By painting your shower and bathroom tiles instead of purchasing new and having them installed, you will save a ton of money. Paint is very economical and definitely cheaper than replacing old tile with brand new.

Choosing the Proper Paint Color and Type

When choosing a paint color, remember that brighter colors are best for a smaller bathroom while darker shades will absorb light and can make your bathroom look and feel even more confined. Lighter, clean colors would be the way to go unless you have a large bathroom that can handle a darker color.

If you have tile in your bathroom that features glazed quarry tile, you may not be able to paint very well since the glaze makes it more difficult for the paint to bond and stick. If your tile is porcelain, ceramic, unglazed quarry tile, or made up natural stones, such as granite or marble, the paint will adhere much better.

When it comes to certain types of tiles, such as porcelain, ceramic, or quarry tiles that are not glazed, using epoxy paint or latex formulation will work better. You need to make sure the type you purchase is formulated for interior use. If need be, you can also mix epoxy paint with a latex one.

The epoxy paint works best for your tub and shower area as well as your backsplashes and countertops which are exposed to water more often than say, your bathroom floors or walls. When epoxy dries and cures, it forms a more durable, harder surface that will provide more resistance to moisture, heat, and everyday use that latex paint will provide. There are even two-part epoxy paint mixtures available that are specifically created for use on tubs, showers, and tiles.

Acrylic latex paint that is created for interior masonry or stucco is a great option for painting natural stone tiles. My best friend just used this in her bathroom to give it the look of brown, beige, and cream granite and it worked out very well.

You can choose an acrylic paint option that offers a high-gloss finish as she did or a flat sheen to it if you prefer. Keep in mind that the glossier the finish, the more slippery your painted tile will be when walking on it in your shower. Flat and matte sheens offer more traction underfoot so you may combine the two types of paint and simply use flat paint for the floor of your bathroom or shower area.

Taking Time

A man painting the wall in the background of paint rollers.

Just know upfront that the process of painting your tiles and shower may put your bathroom out of commission for a weekend or a little longer. If you have a second bathroom, that will come in very handy but if not, you may want to make other arrangements ahead of time for you and your family to take showers at a family member or friend’s house.

There are five main stages in the process of painting your tiles and shower. First, you have to prepare the surface you are going to be painting, then prime the area before doing the actual painting and pattern application, then you can seal it.

The total amount of time you spend on your project will depend on your own time constraints and the length of time it takes for each step to be completed, along with the time it takes the primer, paints, and sealers that are used to dry. It will also depend on the type of pattern you choose to use, how many colors are involved, and how large the areas are that you will be painting.

Preparing the Surface

It is important to do any sanding that needs to be done then vacuuming and scrubbing the tiles before beginning the priming process. A clean slate is a way to go.

Priming the tile is imperative in making the tile more receptive to being painted. Masonry primer is a great option to use for natural stones, including granite and marble, as well as for quarry tiles that have not been glazed. An epoxy primer will work best for other types of tiles, such as ceramic or porcelain tiles. You should read and follow closely primer’s instructions for the dry time to ensure you do not start to paint too soon.

Time to Paint

A close look at a man painting the wall of the bathroom.

Depending on the look you are going for, you can simply roll your paint onto large areas of the tile at one time or brush each tile individually by using a method called “cutting in.” This method is done with an angled brush and you will need to have a steady hand to paint the tiles properly.

If you are doing a pattern, you will need to use a stencil that you can purchase or one that is created at home to tape over the tiles before you begin painting to create the look you want. After you are finished painting, it is time to allow your tiles and shower to dry thoroughly before you seal.

Seal the Deal

Sealing your beautiful paint job is imperative to keeping your new bathroom look fresh and pretty. Sealing will protect your paint job from scratches, grime, and scuff marks. You should use a urethane sealer for porcelain or ceramic tiles and a masonry sealer for quarry tiles or natural stone ones. You should not use your bathroom again until after the sealer is completely dry.


And there you have it! Your bathroom has a fresh, clean, and different look without the expense and hassle of a complete renovation.