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Shower tile serves as a practical and aesthetic lining for your shower walls, protecting the structure from moisture while offering an opportunity to add personal style to your bathroom. The condition of a bathroom can significantly influence the overall feel and value of your home. Shower tiles, which form a considerable part of the bathroom’s aesthetic, can become dated or worn out over time. This leads to an important question: what options are available for refreshing these tiles? In this article, we will learn about shower tile, if you can paint shower tile to give it a refresh as well as the supplies you will need.

Let’s learn more about giving your bathroom a new makeover!

What is Shower Tile?

Shower tiles are made of durable materials like ceramic, porcelain, or stone that resist water and humidity, thereby preventing damage to the walls behind them. They come in various shapes, sizes, and designs to suit different tastes and functional requirements.

Tile keeps the water out and adds style to the bathroom.  Sometimes you need to update the bathroom and by painting it is cheaper than replacing it.

Can You Paint Shower Tile?

Yes, it’s possible to paint over shower tile. However, there are important steps and considerations to ensure the paint adheres properly and lasts over time. Let’s take a look at the supplies that you need first.

Supplies Needed to Paint Shower Tile

To paint shower tile, you will need the following supplies:

What Are the Steps to Paint the Shower Tile?

Now that you know what materials you will need, there are specific steps to follow. Let’s take a look at those.

  1. Clean the tiles thoroughly.
  2. Sand the surface to promote adhesion.
  3. Apply a suitable primer and let it dry.
  4. Paint the tiles with epoxy or urethane-based paint.
  5. Apply a second coat if necessary and let it cure.

Why Would You Want to Paint Shower Tile?

Painting shower tile can be a cost-effective way to update the look of your bathroom without undertaking a full renovation. It allows for customization and can cover up outdated colors or patterns. You can DIY paint your shower tile and it can range from $100 to $200. This will depend on the quality of the materials you choose. Also, hiring a professional can cost between $300 and $1000, largely depending on labor costs and the size of your shower.

Is It Cheaper to Paint or Retile?

Generally, it is cheaper to paint shower tile than to retile. Tiling involves more labor and materials which significantly increases the cost.

Issues to Think About When Painting the Shower Tile

Consider the following issues before painting the shower tile:

  • Longevity of paint versus new tile
  • Moisture resistance of the paint
  • Ventilation and curing time needed for paint. Proper ventilation is crucial during and after painting shower tiles to ensure the paint dries and cures correctly. It would be helpful to emphasize the need for adequate ventilation and recommend opening windows or using a fan during the process.
  • Potential of paint chipping or peeling over time

Important Information to Know After Painting Your Tile

After painting, wait at least 48 hours before using the shower. This delay allows the paint to cure and harden completely. If the proper steps are taken and you use quality materials, the paint should not come off easily. It is however less durable than the original glazing of the tile.

When is Painting the Shower Tiles Not a Good Idea?

It’s not advised to paint shower tiles if you notice the tiles are heavily damaged or cracked. Also, if there is existing mold or mildew. Lastly, if the shower is used excessively and does not have adequate ventilation.

Painting shower tile gives the bathroom a new look for not a lot of money.

How to Clean the Painted Shower Tiles?

Now that you have painted the tiles, you want to make sure that you keep them clean. Use non-abrasive cleaners and soft cloths to clean your painted shower tiles. Harsh chemicals or scouring pads could damage the paint layer. Maintaining painted shower tiles involves a series of regular actions to ensure the longevity and appearance of the paint. Here are the steps you should follow:

  1. Gentle Cleaning: Use mild, non-abrasive cleaners to wipe down your painted tiles. Avoid harsh chemicals or abrasive tools that could scratch or damage the paint surface.
  2. Soft Cloths or Sponges: Utilize soft cloths or sponges for cleaning. This will prevent scratches that can occur from using scouring pads or stiff brushes.
  3. Regular Maintenance: Clean your shower tiles regularly to prevent soap scum and mildew buildup. This not only keeps them looking good but also prevents any substances from degrading the paint over time.
  4. Immediate Repairs: If you notice chips or cracks in the paint, address them as soon as possible. Small areas can be touched up with matching paint to prevent water from seeping underneath and causing further damage.
  5. Avoid Harsh Water Pressure: When rinsing your shower, avoid high-pressure water settings that might wear down the paint prematurely.
  6. Proper Ventilation: Ensure your bathroom is well-ventilated, especially after taking a shower. This helps to reduce moisture levels, which can affect the durability of the paint.
  7. Dry Surfaces: After using the shower, consider using a squeegee or dry towel to remove excess water from the tile surfaces. This habit reduces water exposure and can help maintain the integrity of the paint.
  8. Periodic Inspections: Periodically inspect the painted tiles for any signs of peeling or lifting paint. Early detection means easier maintenance and repair.

By following these maintenance tips, you can help extend the life of your painted shower tiles and keep them looking fresh and clean.

Alternative Options to Painting Shower Tiles

If painting shower tiles does not seem like the right choice for your bathroom renovation, there are several other alternatives to consider that can refresh or completely change the look of your shower area:

  1. Reglazing: This process involves applying a new glaze over the existing tiles, giving them a fresh and new appearance without removing them.
  2. Tile Stickers: Adhesive tile stickers can be applied directly over the existing tiles. They come in various designs and colors and can be a quick, temporary fix.
  3. Regrouting: Sometimes, simply cleaning and regrouting the existing tiles can significantly improve the shower’s appearance, making it look clean and updated.
  4. Tile Refinishing Kits: Similar to painting, these DIY kits contain all the necessary materials to refinish the tiles with a new coating that adheres to the tile surface.
  5. Bathroom Cladding: PVC wall panels or cladding can be installed over existing tiles. These panels are waterproof and come in a range of finishes.
  6. Tile Overlays: Installing new tiles over the old ones is an option, though it requires careful consideration regarding the additional weight and the condition of the underlying surface.
  7. Natural Stone or Laminate Panels: Prefabricated panels made from natural stone or high-pressure laminate can be fitted over existing tiles, providing a high-end look without extensive construction.
  8. Microcement: This is a waterproof cement-based coating that can be applied over tiles to give a seamless, contemporary finish.
  9. Wallpaper: Specifically designed waterproof wallpaper for bathrooms can also cover old tiles, offering a wide variety of patterns and textures.
  10. Remodeling: Complete removal and replacement of the old tiles with new ones. This is the most labor-intensive and costly option but allows for a complete transformation.

Each alternative comes with its own set of pros and cons, costs, and levels of durability. It’s important to assess your specific needs, budget, and how long you intend the solution to last before making a decision.

Bathroom Maintenance

We know that you can spruce up the color of tiles without replacing them in the shower. However, there are other areas of bathroom maintenance to think about. One of those is painting the ceiling in the bathroom. If you are painting your tiles in the shower, this may be a good time to paint the bathroom ceiling as well. To do this, you will prepare the space, tape it up, prime the surface, apply the paint, and then keep it clean.

Another area is the toilet won’t stop running. This can be due to the fill valve or rubber flapper in the toilet tank needing to be replaced. A homeowner can do this or you can hire a handyman to help.

Lastly, you may find that your water bill is high. This could be due to a leaky faucet, leaky pipes, or a water heater issue. It is a good idea to find out what is causing it before you have a bigger issue on your hands.

When to Call a Professional?

While painting shower tile can be a DIY project, calling a professional may be necessary in certain situations. If the tile is severely damaged or requires extensive repairs, it may be best to consult a professional tile installer or painter who has experience working with shower tile. They can provide expert advice, ensure proper preparation and application, and deliver high-quality results.

Check out the video below about painting your shower tile!


While painting shower tiles can be a budget-friendly and transformative solution, it requires thorough preparation and careful application to ensure a lasting finish. Weigh the pros and cons, including cost, durability, and your skill level, before deciding whether to paint or replace your shower tiles. Painting shower tile can be an effective way to update the look of your shower and rejuvenate your bathroom. By considering the condition of the tile, using suitable materials, and proper preparation techniques, you can achieve a fresh and long-lasting finish. While thinking about this next step, it is a good time to reach out to Enviroquest Home Inspections for a complete home inspection in Harrisburg, PA.

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