Thinking About Painting Tile Floors? Don't.

Painting tile floors might sound like an easy fix to an ugly tile problem, but don't pick up that floor tile paint just yet.

Painting tile floors sounds (and looks) like a common-sense fix to an ugly tile problem in a bathroom, kitchen, or entryway. After all, you can paint an ugly wall or an outdated door—why not paint some floor tiles? When replacing floor tiles is so costly, time-consuming, and messy, a coat of paint seems like the obvious, budget-friendly alternative, but this seemingly obvious DIY solution isn't the fix-all you'd hope for.

Searches for painted floor tiles were up 1,276 percent on Pinterest in 2018, so plenty of people are interested in the option, and a plethora of DIY guides to painting tile floors are floating around online. But while cleaning floor tile grout is an easy and effective way to improve the look of a space, painting tiles floors can quickly go wrong.

Drawbacks to Painting Tile Floors

Peeling and Bubbling Paint

"Because tiled flooring is commonly found in high-traffic areas, such as the bathroom or kitchen, there is a risk the paint will peel or bubble up from being frequently scratched or exposed to moisture, regardless of the amount of paint layers applied," says Hunter Macfarlane, project expert at Lowe's.

The process can be easy, and the immediate results might look great—but there's a good chance they won't last.

Adherence Issues

Ben and Erin Napier, the home improvement duo behind HGTV's Home Town, also expressed doubts regarding the trend. "I don't know how it would adhere to a porcelain tile," Ben says. "I don't know."

"I think somebody did it and thought, 'This is cool, I'm going to tell everybody this is cool,'" Erin says. "I could change my mind later, but right now, I'm not on board with it. I'm not sure about it. I mean, if we're talking about a back porch, sunroom, where you can paint it a fun color, maybe." (Ben says, "No, don't," to that.)

Maintenance and Health Concerns

So, technically, you can paint floor tiles in the literal sense—but the results won't last as long as you want them to, and there is a chance painting tile floors can actually cause maintenance issues. (Chipping and peeling paint can even lead to some health concerns, particularly if children or pets are in the home.)

Floor Painting Alternatives

  1. Replace the floor. The Napiers suggest just biting the bullet and replacing tile floors. (They suggest looking into The Home Depot's Home Services to get the job done.)
  2. Use peel and stick tiles. There are certain peel-and-stick tile decals that can improve the appearance of unfortunate floor tiles.
  3. Cover with a rug. Affordable area rugs can also help cover unsightly floors.
  4. Clean the area thoroughly. Sometimes all it takes to improve the look of tile floors is an optimal deep cleaning.
  5. Change the wall color. Think about whether a different paint color or wall covering might improve the look of your floors. The undertone of your wall color might be clashing with the floor in a way that makes you want to change the floor. (Changing the wall color is a more reliable way to improve a room's design.)

The Bottom Line

If you're really attached to the idea of painting tile floors, go about the project carefully.

"To achieve the best results, I recommend working with professional painters that are specialized and equipped to properly paint ceramic tiled floors and walls, and leave the area unused for several days to allow the paint to dry once the project is completed," Macfarlane says.

Refinish tiles, even give wall or backsplash tile a pretty painted pattern, but don't paint the entirety of your tile floors—no matter how good it looks online.

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