One of the first projects I did after purchasing my home was to refinish the bathroom tile. I don’t think I’ve ever written about this, but it was a pretty involved project that might be beyond your typical DIY.
My bathroom had lovely 1950’s green and yellow tile, that I just couldn’t live with. The tile itself was in great condition so it would’ve been a shame to just rip it all out because of the color. We found a Rustoleum tub and tile refinisher that was only $25 and decided to give it a try.
Getting paint to adhere to tile is a major undertaking— especially in a bathroom. The refinisher is an epoxy that mixes 2 parts together and is supposed to adhere and self level. We were a little skeptical so we did a lot of prep work— from cleaning to make sure there was no soap scum or residue, and sanding as much as possible to scuff the surface of the tile.
We could not break the glossy surface of the tile with any sanding or sand paper so we had to call it good enough. I then wiped down the walls with alcohol to give it one last clean. The kit claims you can roll or brush on the paint but I really wouldn’t recommend it. My dad has experience with an air compressor spray gun and felt it was best to mix the paint and spray the room (that is what professional refinishers do).
We then masked the entire room (literally the entire thing). We did this project in the summer so we could ventilate the room because the paint smells to high heaven. The spraying went really well— my dad started with a base coat and then did a second coat for even coverage. He said it was easy to spray and recommends a medium coat the first time and a lighter coat on top. Some of the parts he started spraying finer didn’t self level as smooth.
The room turned out beautiful and dried with a surprisingly glossy finish. You wouldn’t know it wasn’t originally white!
We completed the project 4 years ago and we have had to go back in and sand a few spots to repaint them. It mostly happens in the shower area and begins in the grout lines. I’m not sure if there was residue suck there or if it just doesn’t adhere as well. To repair, we just wet sand, clean, mix up a little paint, and fill in with a foam brush. It’s not ideal, but not that big of a deal. If it got really bad, it could all be sanded and sprayed again.
Looking back, we wish we would’ve tried harder to break the glossy surface of the tile for better adhesion. There are acid etchers out there that may have done the trick but we don’t know for sure!
As I said before, I would only recommend doing this project if you or someone you know has a lot of painting experience otherwise you could end up with a big mess on your hands. Overall I’m really happy, especially because my bathroom only took 2 boxes of paint which cost less than $50. I then updated the tile on the floor and completely transformed the room!
If you’ve ever tried the product, I’d love to know how it worked for you or if you did anything different!