A Method for Hand Painting Old Ceramic Floor Tiles – A New Orleans Themed Half Bath under Staircase

Ripping up and replacing a tiled floor is a daunting and expensive task, especially should one live in a fully furnished house full of antique furniture.  An alternative is to hand paint the tiles which can save thousands of dollars in furniture removal, storage expenses and labor costs.  Let’s not forget the the noise and dust created by using pry bars to rip up old tiles.  By hand painting tiles, small sections of a floor may be redecorated by shifting furniture from one area of a room to another.

Perhaps the most rewarding aspect of hand painting ceramic tiles is the limitless range of possibilities in recreating historical designs or creating your own original designs.

Painting Method.  

Using bleach and Pine-sol, first mop the section of floor to be painted.  Use a can of of Comet bleach and SOS pads to remove any built up hard to remove dirt and a stiff brush to clean the grout.   Rinse thoroughly and allow to dry.

Apply Zinnser Primer Primer with brush or roller.  Allow to dry.  One coat will do, although a second coat may be applied should one prefer.

Paint tiles using artist’s acrylic or interior house paint or a combination of both.  Glidden One Coat make for a good base layer prior to adding design work with artist acrylics.

Apply several coats of varnish with brush or roller.  CystaLac varnish dries fast and several coats may be applied in a day.

Maintenance cleaning may done with wet mop sheets or a mild mixture of water and bleach.


The photos above and below are of a small half bath painted using the above listed method.  The gray tiles shown below outside the bathroom are the same tiles that are in the bathroom.

This painting method was also used to paint the toilet seat and sink base.  The toilet seat was painted with a base coat of Zinsser’s, a top coat of Glidden’s and gold decoration using Sargent Art Liquid Metal Gold paint.  The walls of this small bath were painted with a base wash of artist acrylic applied with a sponge, brushed on acrylic colors and gold paint.  The angel on the angled wall behind the toilet was decoupaged by gluing a magazine print to the wall with Yes Paste and then sealed with Rust-oleum Spar Varnish.  The ceiling is a variegated gold leaf.

The tiles outside the small bathroom serve as the before picture as the tiles inside were the same.


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— Leonardo Da Vinci