How to Paint Old Ceramic Tiles

Tired of looking at the Pepto-Bismal pink or avocado green ceramic tiles in the kitchen, but lack the funds to rip them out and and give your kitchen a new, updated tile look? Believe it or not, those interior design colors were popular decades ago but are leaning towards hideous today, but unfortunately tile is not cheap to replace. When a kitchen remodel is just not in the budget and the ceramic tiles have to remain, the tiles can be painted in an updated color and/or transfers added at minimal expense and a little DIY elbow grease.

These are the items needed for painting ceramic tiles:
Dishwashing liquid, sponge and water
PermEnamel Surface Conditioner
PermEnamel paint
PermEnamel clear gloss glaze or clear satin glaze
At least 3- one inch wide paint brushes
Optional – transfers for ceramic tile and wall paint

How to Paint Old Ceramic Tiles

Tile Preparation

Thoroughly washing and drying the surface of the ceramic tile is essential before painting. Depending on the location of the tile, a mild soap and water solution using dishwashing liquid may be sufficient to remove dust and dirt. Ceramic tile inside of a shower or on a kitchen backsplash may need cleaning with a stronger household cleaner prior to painting. Wash, rinse and allow the tile to dry.

Condition The Ceramic Tile

After the ceramic tile has dried, brush on a coat of PermEnamel Surface Conditioner according the manufacturer’s instructions and allow to dry. The conditioner helps the paint to bond with the ceramic tiles and prepares the tiles for smoother paint application.


The PermEnamel paint (or other ceramic tile paint brand chosen) will come in a wide array of modern, updated colors. Once the surface conditioner has completely dried, use a new paint brush and brush on the paint color of choice to the ceramic tiles. Allow the paint to dry for one hour before preceding to the final paint step.

Finishing Glaze

The final paint step is to apply the clear gloss glaze or clear satin glaze over the painted ceramic tiles. The clear gloss glaze will produce a shiny finish on the tiles, the clear satin glaze will leave the ceramic tile paint color with a satin finish.

Apply the choice of glaze with a clean, dry paint brush. Two coats of glaze is needed for a beautiful and durable finish. Allow the glaze to dry between coats.

Adding Transfers

Transfers made for ceramic tile can be added for an additional interior design element after allowing the paint to cure for a few days. Transfers come in many design and color motifs that will enhance the room’s décor.

Applying transfers to existing ceramic tile without painting it is also a way to disguise and detract from less than appealing tile color. When applying transfers to ceramic tile sans the paint,thorough cleaning and drying of the tile is needed for the transfer to adhere properly.

Outdated ceramic tile color can be changed to an updated color by first cleaning the tiles, then using products specifically designed to condition, paint and glaze the ceramic tiles. If painting is a bigger DIY project than you want to undertake, add transfers in modern colors and patterns to disguise the outdated color of the ceramic tiles and provide a modern interior design with minimal time, effort and expense.

Room Trim

Tie the newly updated interior design color of the kitchen together by purchasing the needed amount of wall paint to match or compliment the new paint color on the tile. Use the wall paint on window and door trims, cabinet and drawer fronts, chairs, stools and other items within the kitchen to create a cohesive, color-coordinated living space.