How to Change Your Kitchen Tile Color Without Replacing Them

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Last updated: March 24, 2023

Sometimes, kitchen tiles can make a huge difference in creating a clean look and upgrade to any kitchen. There are different ways to approach this. Let’s start with some initial questions.

  • Are the old tiles in your kitchen an older, boring style or not to your preference? 
  • Beyond floor tiles, is there wall tile that also needs to be replaced? 
  • Maybe you still love your existing tiles but not the color?

Painting tiles may be a great option if there is no surface damage or need to repair chips. If there are complications, you can address them with quick-setting cement or even tile stickers in a literal sense. The next step would simply be to decide the color of your ceramic tiles. 

Before the first coats of paint are added, you need to start with a good primer; this is a tile primer you add before the first coat, which requires proper dry time for better paint adhesion that is longer lasting.

Any painting process often overlooks the use of a quality high-adhesion primer for ceramic tile, acrylic latex, or latex which is really a sealer for porous surfaces. This is an ideal solution for moisture-prone areas (backsplash, floor tiles) like a ceramic tile surface in an old bathroom, for example. In the long run, you can eliminate a lot of confusion and save a lot of time and money, if you can change tile color with floor paint that will help withstand heavy wear after applying the coat of primer.

Would enamel paints work well on top of the tile after high-adhesion primers? Absolutely.

While painting your porcelain tile is not recommended, you can still change the color of your kitchen or bathroom tile without the need to replace it. Tile refinishing is the best way to change the color of a kitchen or a bathroom’s ceramic tile floors and grout lines and you don’t need to go for a full replacement.

Beyond the right paint (ceramic tile paint), and choice of different colors, what else do you need to get started with your new tile job. You will need the right tools. A small roller, roller tray, and paint brush are the essentials.  

Painting can have easy steps but can be tricky with tile design. Dust is your worst enemy and can lead to disastrous outcomes. If you are using tack cloth, avoid its use or be careful with dampness on the tile paint cover, especially with ceramic or porcelain.

If you want to go beyond the paint job with a serious upgrade, you can use natural stone for floor tiles, wall tiles, kitchen backsplash, and countertops because there are great modern sealing options to reduce stains or water damage. This is an expensive and luxurious building material that will add life and value to your home investment.

White marble texture, Natural pattern for counters, floors, backdrop or background

Table of Contents

Tile Refinishing to Achieve New Tiles Without Replacing

Tile refinishing is considered the easiest, fastest, and cheapest way to change ceramic tile color to different colors without replacing them. A new coating goes over the kitchen tiles and grout to create a fresh glaze that can give the room a brand-new appearance. 

Tile refinishing is a good idea because it doesn’t only last long as it also costs much lesser than getting a new tile, and it also saves you from the need to perform a complete demolition. 

Since the refinishing coating will cover the grout lines, you also do not need to deal with grimy grout. Standard grout lines are tricky to clean and porous, and refinished grout lines have a similar finish as the tiles. The low maintenance feature is among the top reasons most homeowners opt for tile refinishing instead of tile replacement. 

Painting wall tiles with white enamel using a roller

Steps for Changing the Kitchen Tile Color Without Replacing

Follow these simple steps to freshen up the color of the tiles and ensure that your kitchen no longer looks dated and drab. 

1. Clean the Tile Surface

Before you begin painting, the first step is to clean the grout and tiles thoroughly and carefully. Ensure you get rid of any build-up or loose dirt on the surface. You can also try to use a cement cleaner for the grout and a steam tile cleaner on the tiles if possible. 

Doing so will ensure that the two surfaces are both adequately sanitized to achieve a grout that looks new and bright and a surface smooth enough for the next paint job.

After cleaning the entire surface, allow the area to dry off completely before proceeding to the next steps. Remember that wet grouts will appear darker than the parts already dry enough. 

2. Paint the Tiles

One of your best options for ceramic tiles is using urethane-based paint. You can start painting the outer edges first, and you can use an angled brush here to prevent overlap in the grouted margins. 

To safeguard the grout from slip-ups and dripping, you can use a 1/8-inch type of acrylic tape to cover the grout. Avoid scrubbing or scraping the wet paint if you make a mistake.

After the tiles have completely dried up, you can use a narrow brush to retouch the grout using specialized grout paint. Once you complete the edges, you can fill in the middles using a standard brush or paint roller. The tool used will depend on the tile’s size. 

Don’t forget to allow enough drying time before you apply a second coat to help prevent unwanted streaks.

3. Proceed to Grout Painting

Grout paint is a unique type of paint that can seal and transform the color of the grout to avoid any unwanted stains in the future. Grout painting might no longer be necessary if its appearance looks renewed after washing and you didn’t make any mistakes while painting the tiles. 

Maybe the grout is still in good condition, but its shade doesn’t match the new color of the tile anymore. If you want to proceed to paint the grout, you can use a narrow brush for a DIY project or fill it in using a rolling paint applicator. 

4. Finish the Job with Sealant Application

Sealing both the grout and tile is the last step to renewing the surface of your tiles. After thoroughly drying both surfaces, you can now roll on the urethane-based tile sealant easily purchased from Home Depot and other big-box stores. It will provide a fresh finish and preserve the paint job simultaneously to achieve the best results. 

You can also use a high-gloss sealer for a brighter shine. This sealer requires an easy application and helps lock in the new coat of paint color. 

Can You Choose a Different Color for Tile Refinishing

Yes, you can choose several colors for tile refinishing, backsplash refinishing, countertop refinishing, and other similar refinishing services. Most homeowners choose an accent border in a contrasting color or stone finish. 

If your existing layout features specialty tiles, you can choose to highlight these to achieve a designer appeal and create a vast difference in appearance. There are endless possibilities to help you achieve the exact new look you prefer for your bathroom or kitchen. 

How Long Does it Take to Complete a Tile Refinishing Project

The refinishing process only takes several hours, depending on the specific square foot of the surface area you need to cover. You may complete other projects faster than this timeframe, especially with good prep work. But you need to leave the new coating alone first for at least 48 hours to allow it to cure, and it is also better if you can leave it longer.

Even if the entire surface feels dry to the touch, the layers below will still require enough time to harden completely. It will give you a long-lasting finish to make the tile refinishing project a worthy job. 

The Cost of New Tile vs. Tile Refinishing

The cost of tile refinishing is cheaper than that of new tile. Tile refinishing will not only let you save on the cost of materials because you can also save in terms of labor, time, and stress. You might deal with a never-ending cost if you replace the tile. But with tile refinishing, the total cost is predictable and consistent. 

Worker laying tile in new home

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you paint your tiles instead?

Most of the time, painting your carpet tiles is not always a good idea. The standard kind of paint, like acrylic latex paint, doesn’t adhere that well to the tile surface, and many DIY kits do not support long-term use. While you might like the result at first glance, it will probably look sloppy once you scrutinize it. 

After a while, you will notice chipping, flaking, scratches, and other problems in a small area that you will never experience if you refinish the tiles instead. Painting is not always a good choice if you want to change the color of your tiles without replacing them. 

Can you refinish other kitchen and bathroom surfaces?

You can also refinish other surfaces in your bathroom and kitchen, including your bathtub, vinyl flooring, laminate flooring, and laminate countertops. 

How can you update your kitchen floor tiles without replacing or removing them?

If the tiles themselves are still in good shape, but you want to change them up, the best way of changing the tile color is by refinishing them instead. Refinishing lets you give the room an instant update, so you no longer need to look at the ugly tile with the old and dull design anymore. 

Can you change the color of your existing tiles?

Yes, you can change the color of existing tiles by refinishing them, and it will give your tiles a brand-new appearance without the need to replace the tiles themselves.  

Why is it better to refinish ceramic floor tiles?

While you can paint tiles, the results might not last for as long as you want. There is also a chance that maintenance and repair issues may occur if you paint tile floors. This is an excellent example of why refinishing your floor tiles is a better option most of the time due to the significant differences it creates.

Why do people choose to paint their tiles over tile replacement?

Homeowners have several reasons why they choose to repaint tiles. The first one is to give an outdated kitchen or bathroom a more cost-efficient update in terms of style. Another reason is for home staging because of an upcoming prospect visit. The third reason is to turn a bland and dull tiled kitchen and bathroom wall into a more colorful focal point. The good news is that due to the manufacturing process and nature of the material, you can also take advantage of decorative panels for kitchen backsplashes in a high gloss format or take advantage of tile-effect wall panels for added luxury. 

The first important step is to know what matters to you the most, whether it is long-term durability, the details of the finish, or the timing and cost. 

What should you expect from a tile painting project?

Painting tile is often something homeowners choose because it is a more economical alternative than replacement. 

How do you paint existing tile surfaces depending on the location?

If the tiles are in a laundry room, bathroom, or kitchen, your best option is to paint over tile on vertical surfaces and walls that are not located in areas with high traffic and don’t have any direct water exposure. 

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