Shabby or outdated tile in the bathroom or kitchen might seem like a permanent condition, but it doesn't have to be this way. If your tile isn't as clean and pristine as you'd like but it's still in good condition, it might be a candidate for tile reglazing. The process of reglazing tile in place is much like painting a wall, except a special type of two-part glazing product is used.
What Tile Reglazing Is
While the word reglaze, derived from glass, implies a re-application of the tile's original glass-like surface, this is not how glazing is done for tile in place.
In the factory, the tile is treated with a mixture of dyes and a glass product called frit. The tile is fired for many hours in kilns at temperatures up to 2,500°F. This is impossible to do when the tile is in place.
Reglazing tile in place involves painting the tile and grout with a two-part liquid epoxy acrylic that looks and behaves like ceramic. Specially designed for tile, its high-gloss surface resists abrasion, scratching, and mold.
Considered to be self-leveling, brush-on tile reglazing product is thick and heavy enough to smooth out most brush marks. Still, overworking can leave streaks. Brush-on tile reglaze can be applied with a brush or with a roller
While not as strong as the original glaze, it's quite impact-resistant, and it retains color over time.
Tile doesn't need to be removed
Can be done by yourself
Covers grout, as well
Reglaze not as tough as original glaze
Difficult to achieve perfectly smooth surface
When to Reglaze Tile
Reglaze your tile while the tile is still in good physical condition. If the tile has become chipped, cracked, heavily worn, or several individual tiles are missing, the tile is usually past the point of reglazing. In this case, the tile should be removed and replaced.
Use when the temperature is between 50 to 90ºF. Humidity must not exceed 85 percent. Excessive humidity will not allow the reglazing product to properly dry.
Brush-on tile reglazing product is an eye irritant and a category 2 carcinogen (a suspected human carcinogen, though evidence is limited). Wear protective latex or latex-substitute gloves and eye or face protection. As the product can cause headaches, drowsiness, and nausea, use only in well-ventilated areas.
Equipment / Tools
- Large fan
- Fine bristle varnish brush
- Painter's tape
- Wire brush
- Putty knife
- #400 and #600 grit sandpaper
- Waterproof gloves
- P100 respirator
- 4-inch by 1/4-inch short nap roller cover
- 4-inch roller frame
- 4-inch roller tray
- Two-part tile and tub/shower reglazing kit
If the tile is located in the bathroom, remove all obstructions such as shower curtains, attached soap trays, escutcheons, handles, or towel racks.
For tile in the kitchen, remove furniture, detach doors, remove outlet and light switch faceplates, and remove the kitchen sink.
For anything that will not be removed, tape it off with painter's tape.
Use a wire brush and putty knife to remove large attached debris. Lightly sand the tile first with #400 grit sandpaper, then with #600 grit paper. The goal is to scuff down the glossy surface to help the glaze adhere. Do not sand the grout.
Remove mold and mildew (especially in the grout) with a solution of bleach and water. Scrub well with an abrasive cleaner. Rinse thoroughly. Once the tile has dried, lightly wipe it down with a tack cloth. Do not press hard.
Two-part tile reglazing product is noxious when used in small, enclosed areas. Ventilate the room by opening all windows. Turn a large box fan backward and place it in one of the windows to move air from the indoors to the outdoors. It's also recommended that you wear a P100 respirator.
Mix Reglaze Product
In a clean container, mix part #2 (the base) with part #1 (the resin activator). Use a paint stirrer to mix the product for about a minute.
Apply With Brush
With the brush, apply to the edges of the tile work area. Apply to deep tile seams where the roller will not be able to reach.
Apply With Roller
Pour the reglaze product in the paint tray. Roll out the product over the tile, being careful not to allow the liquid to pool up in the tile seams. To avoid roller marks, do not excessively roll the product. Roll only enough to cover the tile.
Apply Second Coat
Let the first coat dry for one hour before applying the second coat.
When to Call a Professional
Most companies that refinish or reglaze bathtubs and showers will also reglaze tile. It's a standard procedure, since showers and tubs often have tiled wall surrounds.