(Update – Click here to see how my painted shower is holding up after a year of use!)
Who here has really outdated tile in their bathroom but doesn’t want to rip it out and replace it? (I’m looking at you, mom!) Did you know that you can paint it?
I wavered about doing something with the tile in our master bathroom for a long time. It’s not terrible and I don’t hate it…but by the same token I don’t love it either. I didn’t want to rip it out and re-tile…in our forever house, yes, in this house, not gonna happen. I finally decided to give painting it a whirl, mostly because I like to experiment and I thought some of y’all might be curious about the process. Plus I figured solid white would be an improvement over the blue, gray and swirlies.
So let’s get started. First off, you need supplies. Quite a few of them.
- abrasive pad/sponge
- 400/600 grit wet/dry sandpaper
- 3M™ Safety Products – a respirator, safety glasses, and gloves
- ScotchBlue™ Painter’s Tape
- brushes (I used foam)
- rollers (I used foam)
- paint tray and liners
- RustOleum tub and tile paint (I used almost two boxes and did three coats)
You may or may not need –
- tools to remove caulk
First thing you have to do is remove all the caulk from the areas you will be painting, since you can’t paint over it. (You can go back and add it after your shower is painted and dry). We didn’t really have any caulk, but what we did have was cracked, chipping, and missing in grout in the corners and edges.
Adam decided to go ahead and remove all the cracked grout and replace it. He said it was for the betterment of the tub, I think he just likes destroying things.
Notice how responsible he is being and wearing his 3M safety glasses? Let me tell you a little story…
Adam kinda sucks at wearing safety gear while DIYing. Well, he used to…but this year he has had to go to the emergency room twice for getting stuff in his eye while working on a project. I’m not even kidding…TWICE, because once just isn’t enough. Now he always wears safety glasses, because he’s cheap and a pair of safety glasses is much more budget friendly than an emergency room visit. Trust us on that one.
Here is the official before picture, after a few hours of work.
The first step to painting a tub/shower is cleaning it. (Actually, the first four steps are cleaning.) This was new territory for me, I am terrible at cleaning our showers. Terrible meaning I just never do it. If I don’t make something a top priority around here it doesn’t get done, and scrubbing showers is never a top priority. In my opinion you shouldn’t even have to clean showers, their whole existence is centered around soap and water…they should be self-cleaning. Can I get an amen?
Here are the cleaning steps, I simply did exactly what the box told me to do.
- Clean with bleach water to remove mildew. Rinse.
- Scrub with Comet and an abrasive pad. Rinse.
- Clean with Lime-A-Way. Rinse.
- Sand with 400/600 wet/dry sandpaper. Rinse.
- Let dry for at least an hour.
The result? Insanely clean tiles. Literally so squeaky clean that I could have used them to do my make-up. So beautifully clean that I may just go completely crazy and scrub my shower once in a while.
Next I taped off the shower with ScotchBlue™ Painter’s Tape.
Here is what I was thinking when I did this…
I wanted to paint the tiles, but I didn’t want to paint the actual tub (except for the front, because it had some discoloration). The tub was already white and not in bad shape. No need to fix what isn’t broken, right? Also, the tub and tile paint has great reviews online (you can read them here on Amazon) but whenever I read a negative review it said something like “it’s been a couple of years and it’s holding up great except for some chipping and peeling around the drain.” If the floor was everyone’s problem area, then I wanted to avoid painting the floor.
The first step to painting is to mix the paint. It’s a two-part epoxy paint that you mix together by pouring part A (the activator) into part B (the base). You can use it on porcelain, ceramic, and fiberglass. Then use your brush to cut in the edges and corners, just like you would if you were painting wall.
When that is done go after it with a roller…
Painting a tub may sound a little scary and intimidating, but really, it’s no different from painting anything else and it doesn’t really take any longer. (You only need to wait about an hour or two between coats).
Okay, I lied a little…there is one major difference between painting tile a painting a wall.
THE SMELL. The tile paint is so freakin ridiculously strong, it’s insane. Do not even think about doing this without a respirator. I used this mask and could smell it a bit, but it wasn’t bad. I would think that a mask like this would do a much better job. The fumes were so strong that my eyes teared up a bit and I seriously considered putting on my snorkeling mask. I thought the Waterlox we used to seal our butcher block countertops and farmhouse table was bad, but it has nothing on this tile paint. You can tell I’m a mom because the only comparison I can make is comparing Waterlox to newborn diapers and tile paint to toddler diapers. Neither are pleasant, but as soon as you graduate to solid food toddler diapers you realize those newborn diapers basically smelled terrific.
Here are a couple of things you should NOT do while painting…
Do NOT use a roller that isn’t foam. I did some research before starting this project and it was recommended that you use a low nap roller over a foam roller. That’s all fine and dandy and obviously worked for some people, but my roller left tiny raised hairs all in my paint. Literally everywhere.
I ended up sanding again after the first coat with the 600 grit sandpaper to smooth them out and using a foam roller for the rest.
Also, do NOT use the same paint tray for consecutive coats. Use a liner and throw it away after each coat, even if the paint in it looks dry and safe to pour over. The new paint will re-energize the old stuff, just enough to leave tiny, bumpy, gelatinous spots all over your nice smooth paint job and make you want to hurt somebody. (I couldn’t get a good picture of this.)
With that being said, here is the final product…it looks so bright and clean! Perhaps a little too bright and clean…I think I have to paint the tub now. I used to think it was white, but against the ultra white paint it looks gray and dingy (it looks better in pictures than in person).
The finish on the paint it surprising great. It’s smooth and shiny and really doesn’t feel like it’s going anywhere. Adam was really skeptical before we started, he told me “just because you can fix things with paint doesn’t mean you should.” Now that is complete he suggested we do the guest bathroom as well.
If y’all have any questions just leave them in the comments and I will do my best to answer you!
Update #2 – I just saw that Rustoleum now makes a touch-up kit for this product! Now if I do get some chipping I can easily fix it without buying and mixing up a quart of paint.
*This post is a collaboration with 3M DIY. To keep up-to-date on projects, products and sampling visit 3MDIY.com. Don’t forget to connect with the 3M DIY Twitter Page, 3M DIY Facebook Page, 3M DIY Pinterest Page, and 3M DIY YouTube Page. Tub and tile refinishing kits were provided courtesy of RustOleum. Post contains affiliate links. Whew, I know…but as usual, all opinions, experiences, and mistakes are 100% mine.
Want to read about our other master bathroom projects? Click the thumbnails below.