Sometimes (more likely most of the time for the majority of us) we do not have the budget to rip out our entire bathroom and start fresh. Even though I would have loved to do this, it was not in my budget. I could not stand this awful shower tile anymore so I decided to do something about it! I was inspired by the incredibly talented @hartley_home. She also painted her bathroom shower tile and I just had to try it. This DIY painted shower tile project led me to do other budget makeovers in this bathroom that I can’t wait to show you very soon!
I went with pink and brown tones to mimic a pink zellige tile and I really love the result. I ended up doing this project twice, making a few mistakes the first time around. I will share with you what went wrong. I hope this helps you to only have to do this project once! We have been using our shower/bath for weeks now (my kids are very messy so water gets everywhere) and the paint is holding up great.
Let’s take a look back at what I started with!
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- Tile Cleaner
- Flat Screwdriver or Caulk Remover
- Yellow Frog Tape
- IKEA paint brush set (I used the 2nd largest square one)
- Top Coat
- Containers and stir sticks to mix paint
Step 1: Prep
I cleaned my tile with Krid Krutter. It really wasn’t too dirty, so for me it was a quick clean. Be careful you don’t breath that stuff in…
I then removed the caulk from around the tub. I just used a flat screwdriver, but you can always buy a caulk removal tool like this one.
I taped off the tub and walls with yellow frog tape. I prefer the yellow tape because it is less sticky.
Everything I read in researching how to do this project recommended sanding your tile as the next step. I would have done that but I know for a fact that my tile has lead in it. We had our entire house tested when we moved in since our home was built in the early 70s. I would recommend testing your tile as well if your home is older…I was shocked that our tile had lead. I had no idea that lead could be in tile. I did not want to sand my tile for this reason. Otherwise, I would have. It still all worked out fine.
Step 2: Prime
I did two coats of primer with this primer. This took me about 1 hour to prime 1 coat. I waited 1 hour for it to dry per the instructions and then did it again. I did two coats to cover the old green paint (from my first attempt at this) that I was not able to scrap off. I am not sure if you would also need to do two coats. I used a larger paint brush to apply the primer. I was not loving the texture that the roller left when I did this the first time.
Step 3: Paint
I waited around 5 hours and then I started painting (I am a tad impatient). The primer says to wait 1 hour to top coat.
I did NOT tape off any of my squares. I was too nervous to use tape after what happened the first time. If I was going to use tape, I would have waited 24 hours after priming and I would have used the yellow frog tape (NOT the green). The green is way too sticky and it will peel the paint and primer right off. Also, no matter what tape you use if you try to tape over your primer too soon (like I did the first time) the tape will rip the paint and primer off.
I used a brush from my kids IKEA brush set (the second smallest square one). Weird, I know. I like it because it has shorter bristles and is stiffer. If gave me a lot of control and was the perfect size for my 4×4 tiles. Using the right brush can make or break this project.
I had originally tried using tape and a roller. I didn’t like the texture created with the roller and I didn’t have enough control. There was a lot of drips and just a huge mess in general for me. I guess I am just bad with rollers. My personal preference is a smaller brush.
This project will really test your patience and endurance. It took me about 14 or so hours to paint all of the tiles. I did this painting step all in one day on the weekend from around 9am to 11pm.
Let’s chat about the colors. My base colors were Farrow and Ball Cinder Rose, Pink Ground and Setting Plaster. I got a quart of each in the Behr High Gloss Enamel Interior/Exterior paint. You won’t use a lot of paint, so you will have a lot left over. I also purchased a quart of white (just the base white, not a specific color) in the exact same paint.
I did one color at a time. Once I did one coat of a color I went back right away and did a second coat. My first coat was super light, not a lot of paint. The second coat, you need enough paint so that it glides on nicely and does not mess up the texture, but not too much that it is dripping. Once I was done with a color, I was done.
This is important. Keep wet baby wipes near you at all times! If you make a mistake, wipe it up right away. It will come right off and you can redo that spot.
I probably ended up having 9 colors or so.
- Color 1: Cinder Rose
- Color 2: Pink Ground
- Color 3: Setting Plaster
- Color 4: Cinder Rose and Pink Ground mixed
- Color 5: Pink Ground and Setting Plaster mixed
- Color 6: Cinder Rose, Pink Ground and some white
- Color 7: Cinder Rose and white
- Color 8: Pink Ground and white
- Color 9: Setting Plaster and white
There might have been more, I lost track.
With mixing colors you will mostly likely not be able to do minor touch ups. I did have to fix a tile once I was done because I got rub n buff on it. I didn’t even try and color match it. I just picked from one of my base colors and repainted it. I wouldn’t stress about this too much.
Step 4: Clear Top Coat
24 hours after I finished painting, I used this top coat to protect my paint further. This should help if someone were to scratch at the paint and won’t yellow the colors at all. I waited for the recoat time and did a second coat.
Step 5: Re-Caulk Tub
24 hours later I re-caulked my tub.
Lets back it up to the first time I tried this project. I primed two times and then 1 hour after the 2nd coat of primer I started taping off my tiles with the yellow frog tape. When pulling the tape off, it was ripping the paint and primer off in some spots. It was not terrible so I stopped and started again the next day. I mistakenly used green frog tape (I had run out of yellow) so even after 24 hours that stuff is so sticky that it also ripped the paint and primer off.
I spent maybe 11 hours scraping all of the paint off with a razor blade so I could start all over again. If for some reason you need to scrape it off, I would recommend getting a razor blade with a handle (sorry I can’t find a link to the one I grabbed from Ace, here is a picture) and purchasing a pack of a lot of razor blade replacements (I got a pack of 100 from Ace hardware). Scraping the paint dulls the blade quickly so you will need a lot of them. I tried one of those carbon steel scrapers and it did not work for me. Also, you may break your razor blade and it will go flying (I did a few times) so wear safety goggles.
I hope this DIY painted shower tile project inspires you to make a really impactful change in your bathroom, even if you are on a tighter budget like me!
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