Ceramic and porcelain tile are among the most difficult surfaces to paint. Porous materials like wood and drywall take well to paint. Their pores aid in grabbing the finish and helping it stick. Tile has a couple of factors that work against it, in terms of painting. First, tile used for interior applications such as showers and bathtubs is dense and is either vitreous or impervious. Vitreous tile absorbs no more than 3-percent of its weight in water. Impervious tile, the densest available, absorbs less than a half-percent of its weight in water. Second, the type of tile that many homeowners wish to paint is often subject to a great deal of ordinary, everyday abuse. Tile in showers receives vast amounts of water possibly several times a day and soap scum can build up and become very difficult to remove.
Does this mean that tile cannot be painted? No. But it does mean that you cannot stint on preparation techniques such as scuffing down the tile and cleaning it. You also should accept the fact that painted tile will never look the same as replacement tile. The most vibrant and durable tile colors and designs are those that are incorporated during the firing process. After all, that is one of the key benefits to using tile as a durable material: its top surface is nearly as hard as the base material itself.
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XIM Tile Doc Epoxy Acrylic Coating Aerosol
XIM Tile Doc has something approaching the status of legend in the world of tile paints. The company likes to call itself the "undisputed durability champ" based on extensive independent testing. Laboratory tests are one thing and real life is another thing. For years, XIM Tile Doc has been an easy-to-use tile cover in tough commercial applications like public bathrooms, hotels, and schools. As a bonder product, XIM Tile Doc is specifically meant to stick. Because tile is frequently subjected to hot water, this product is formulated with that purpose in mind.
Two-part tile bonding products are effective, but if you are pressed for time Tile Doc might be what you need since it is a one-coat aerosol spray. XIM Tile Doc sprays on with little effort and dries to full use within three days. This epoxy-modified acrylic paint requires xylene for clean up. One significant downside to choosing the one-part spray, though, is that it only comes in glossy white. For tints, you'll need to go with XIM Tile Doc Kit.
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Valspar Terracotta Touch
Valspar Terracotta Touch is made specifically for tile and glass, as well as wood, metal, and plastic. Because this is a spray paint meant for creating a suede-like or stone texture, you greatly increase your chance of achieving a consistent surface capable of hiding minor flaws. One downside is that spray paint mist can be difficult to confine indoors, even when you take precautions. Due to Valspar Terracotta Touch's texturizing properties, be sure to spray in multiple thin layers rather than one thick layer.
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Valspar Premium Enamel Spray Paint
If you want a wide range of color choices for your painted tile, you may want to consider Valspar's Premium Enamel Spray Paint. All of the nearly fifty solid colors, in either flat, satin, or gloss, dry to the touch in about an hour. Valspar expressly notes that this paint can be used for ceramic tile, stone, and terracotta. One can will cover as much as 24 square feet.
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Rust-Oleum Tub and Tile Refinishing Kit
In addition to XIM, Rust-Oleum also has a lesser-known two-coat product that works well for ceramic tile: an epoxy acrylic tile paint. Rust-Oleum Tub and Tile Refinishing Kit is available in three colors: white, almond, and biscuit. As a two-part paint kit, two substances need to be mixed together and then applied as one. Rust-Oleum Tub and Tile Refinishing Kit replaces the popular Rust-Oleum Tile Transformations, a two-part kit that produced a lightly textured stone-like surface and included a top protective coat.