How to Paint Tile Floors
This post is sponsored by Rust-Oleum.
On Tuesday, we chatted all about my big plans for our guest bathroom refresh. I’m so excited to give this space a budget-friendly makeover. Today, I’m back with the first step of that plan…our stenciled tile floors. I’ve wanted to learn to paint tile floors for some time now and I am so happy to say that it was one of my favorite projects ever!
Here’s a refresher of the tile in our bathroom before I got my hands on it…The second floor of our home was added in the late 90s, so this floor tile is pretty dang old. Plus, it was super dirty. No amount of scrubbing was going to clean those grout lines. I knew that painting the floor tiles was going to be my best bet to get this space looking up to date and fresh.
Directly across the hall from the guest bathroom, you’ll find our laundry room. I love the patterned tile in this space and figured that if I coordinated with this tile in the bathroom, then we would be in good shape.
How to Paint Tile Floors – Supplies
- Rust-Oleum HOME Base Coat (Coastal Fog & Steam Gray)
- Rust-Oleum HOME Top Coat (Matte)
- Krud Kutter
- Scrub Brush
- Painter’s Tape
- Paint Tray
- Roller Covers (both 3/8″ nap and 1/4″ nap)
- Paint Brush
- Stencil Brush
- Small Artist Paint Brushes
The most important supply for this project is the floor paint. Rust-Oleum makes a product specifically for painting floors called Rust-Oleum Home Floor Coating. It comes in a ton of colors and you can use it on wood, tile, vinyl, laminate, concrete, linoleum, and more. I ended up choosing three colors because I wasn’t totally sure which ones would be the winners in this space.
From Left to Right; Steam Gray // Greige // Coastal Fog
I knew I wanted to do a base coat of all one color and then stencil a design in another color on top. After seeing the colors in person, I decided on “Coastal Fog” for the base and “Steam Gray” for the top design. I may use the “Greige” on the floor tile in the basement (stay tuned for that!). When buying the paint, it’s super important to make sure you also buy the top coat. It comes in either a matte or semi-gloss sheen and I opted for the matte. Or you can just buy this kit that has everything you need!
Once I had my paint figured out, it was time to get this project started.
Tips to Paint Floor Tile
As with every project I do for the first time, I always learn a ton along the way. This DIY was actually pretty easy, but there were a few things I learned that I want to share with you before you tackle this project.
Clean Your Floors Really Well
Every painting project starts the same…with some prep work! This project is no different. You want to get your floors super clean before you paint them. I first vacuumed the floors well and then used Krud Kutter to get the tile super clean.
I just followed the directions on the back of the bottle and used a scrub brush to really get into the grout lines and around the edges of the floor. Once it was clean, I went over it with a few rags to get it dry.
I then used painter’s tape to tape off the baseboards, vanity, and toilet…basically any edge that I didn’t want to accidentally paint.
Apply Your Base Coat
I’m not gonna lie, I was a tad nervous when I started painting. I mean, there was definitely no going back. But I figured ANYTHING was going to look better than the current state of our ugly tile, so I might as well go for it.
I worked in 4×4 areas, painting the edges with a brush and rolling the rest. It’s super important that you use a 3/8″ nap roller for this and you don’t want to use too much paint so that it puddles.
I started at the far wall of the bathroom and worked my way out. I recommend wearing knee pads or kneeling on a towel…trust me, your body will thank you later!
It took me about an hour to get the entire floor covered and the hardest part was maneuvering around tight spots like the toilet. One coat is recommended, but I decided to put on a second coat because I had a few spots that weren’t totally even and uniform. I waited six hours to apply that second coat (it is super important to wait that long!) and then let the second coat dry overnight.
Stencil the Floor
The next morning, I woke up raring to go. My floor was dry and already looked ten times better than the outdated tile. I perused so many stencils from this site and ended up going with this one because I loved the intricate design and figured this room could use some round and soft edges.
I haven’t ever really stenciled before, so this was new to me and I have a lot of tips to share (mostly because I made some mistakes along the way).
First, have a piece of scrap cardboard handy. You’ll need a place to rest your stencil in between painting tiles and you won’t want to place it directly on your floor. This was also a good spot to wipe down the stencil if I accidentally got paint on the other side. I also would recommend buying two stencils. Mid-way through my project, mine was pretty banged up and coated in thick paint and I had to give it a good cleaning. It would have been nice to have a fresh one for the rest of the floor. Next time I’ll know better.
You’ll use a tray and roller to stencil the floor. I used the color “Steam Gray” that actually looks more like white than gray. I quickly learned that the key to stenciling is to use a teeny tiny amount of paint. There’s no need to load your roller every time you stencil a tile. Instead, one roller full of paint should last for five to ten tiles (or more!). A few of my first tiles were a bit wet and this got the stencil pretty goopy. So learn from my mistakes!
My next challenge was figuring out how the heck to do the edges and corners. It was hard to get my stencil in there to get the pattern perfectly on the ground.
For this, I found that using a stencil brush (instead of the roller) was key. I taped my stencil onto the tile the best I could and then used the brush to stamp down onto the tile into the edges.
There were plenty of times that I made some mistakes or paint got on there too thick. When that happened, I would take a small paint brush and try my best to touch it up. Be sure to fix areas like that as you go, because you won’t be able to get back to them as you work your way out of the room. And if you get any paint where it’s not supposed to be, use a wet rag immediately and it should easily come up.
It took a few hours to get my entire floor done, but once everything was stenciled, it was the best feeling in the world.
Apply the Top Coat
I let the stenciled floor dry overnight before applying the top coat (although you really only have to wait a couple of hours for the stencil coat to dry). The top coat is what protects the floor and keeps it super durable, so it’s a must for this project. I decided to go with a matte sheen for my top coat so my floor would look like real cement tiles.
The top coat is clear and I used a 1/4″ nap roller to apply it to the floor, while using a paint brush for the edges. Just like the base coat, you should work in small sections and you don’t want the product to pool. It will make the entire floor look wet, but don’t worry, it will dry and look matte when finished.
My New Bathroom Floor
Here’s a look at the finished product. I mean, can you even?! I would never guess that these were painted on. Instead, it looks like it’s brand new tile (for a fraction of the cost)!
Let’s look at the before and after for a better view…
I really disliked this room before, but it already feels completely different…and we’re just getting started!
The vanity is next on the list of items to spruce up. It’s getting a fresh coat of paint and some shiny new hardware. Slowly, but surely, this room is looking better and better.
And let me just say that this was probably one of the most satisfying projects I’ve done lately (or maybe it just felt so good because it was my first real DIY project since having Rory and it felt amazing to accomplish something). I wish I would have done this a year ago! Promise me that if you have ugly tile in your house that you’ll consider painting your floor tile and stenciling it. It’s such an easy and budget-friendly way to make an impact.
P.S. A common question I’ve received is if this product will work for shower tile. This paint will not, but Rust-Oleum makes another paint that is designed specifically for wet areas! Here’s a link to that.
Budget Bathroom Makeover Series
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.