If you’ve ever done a home renovation before, then you know how quickly the costs can add up. You think, “I’ll just paint this wall,” but then the new wall makes the trim look dingy, and the new trim makes the floor look worn, and the new floors should really have new rugs, and on and on it goes. The first thing we did when we moved into our new house was paint the dark wood cabinets (learn to paint yours here).
Once they were a nice, bright white, it really made the dull brown backsplash look faded, and I realized it could definitely use a makeover of its own. Since we have about a million things on our to-do list, adding another expensive tiling job didn’t seem possible. So when I was lamenting to Elsie about the problem, she totally solved the issue by responding, “Just paint it!” Oh yeah, I forgot that was an option! I had painted a tile laundry room floor at our last house when I didn’t have the money to retile it and I loved how it turned out. Painting it is!
-silicon epoxy paint (I got a quart of the Clean Green shade)
-respirator, goggles, rubber gloves
-1/4″ nap paint rollers and brushes (natural hair brush suggested for primer)
-drop cloth plastic and painter’s tape
-paint accelerator/hardener (optional)
NOTE: I’m explaining everything that I did to paint my tile, but for a more detailed list of instructions from the manufacturer, you can read more in this article (right click to download).
First, cover any surfaces you want to protect with a drop cloth and then use a medium grade sandpaper to lightly sand the tile to remove any loose grout or buildup. Then, take your etching cleaner and carefully paint the tiles with a thin layer of cleaner (wear gloves, goggles, a respirator, and long sleeves for this part). Use a scrubbing pad to scrub the cleaner into the tile for about 10 minutes. The directions say to rinse the area with water when the time is up, but since it’s a little hard to do that on this vertical surface, I just wiped it down with some really wet paper towels instead. Let the tile completely dry before moving on to the next step (I gave it at least 24 hours to dry).
You’ll notice that I put a respirator in the supply list. You really want to get one of those on a job like this. The fumes are pretty overwhelming with these products and one of those little painting masks just won’t do. Believe me…I learned that lesson about halfway through.
Once your tile is dry, you can proceed to paint your tile with the primer. You’ll want to use a brush for the edges (they suggest a natural hair brush for the primer) and then a 1/4″ nap roller to roll on the tile. The biggest thing to keep in mind with this paint (both the primer and the top coat) is that you need to work quickly and don’t go back to areas you already painted once they start to dry. The paint gets really tacky pretty quickly, so if it’s already started to dry and you go over it again with your roller, you risk peeling up areas of that paint. I felt like I had a 3-5 minute window on the paint once it was rolled on where I could resmooth something or fix a drip without issue, but after that time frame, it was a little risky to go back over it. So, trim a small section with a brush, use the roller to cover the area in between, and then move on to another small section, etc. until the whole area is covered.
I would suggest adding a little thinner to the primer as well so it rolls on a little more smoothly (a 1 to 10 ratio of thinner to paint is good). You really want your paint coats for the primer and topcoat to be as thin as possible, so keep that in mind as you’re painting as well.
Once your primer is totally dry, mix your topcoat color with some thinner (the thinner to paint ratio should be 1 to 10) and optional paint hardener (3oz hardener per quart of paint or 8oz per gallon). The paint hardener will make the paint dry faster, but it also makes the paint harder and more durable once it’s dry. You only have about 30 minutes of painting time with the hardener though, so if you think it will take you longer than that to paint, just mix the paint and hardener together in smaller batches as you need it.
Use a small trim brush to trim the color and another 1/4″ nap roller to roll the color on. Same rules apply about working quickly and not going back over dry paint! Once the first coat is dry, add a second topcoat and your transformation is complete!
I love how clean and fresh the kitchen feels now with the new bright color. The pop of green adds a lot to the otherwise neutral space, and I like that the paint has this nice high gloss sheen to it which makes the tile look more expensive as well. I’m so happy with how it turned out and also with all the money I saved by painting instead of replacing it. Now I have more funds to put towards all the other things on my renovation list…I guess I’d better get started on those! xo. Laura
Credits // Author and Photography: Laura Gummerman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.