When your tiles are looking a bit old or have an unfashionable tone of retro about them, it may be time to consider a tile refurbishment. The main issue when it comes to re-tiling is that tiles are generally meant to be a permanent fixture, hence why tiles still exist from Roman times. If you are considering re-tiling, then this would mean hacking off the old tiles with a hammer and bolster which depending on how they were fixed originally
could be extremely labour intensive, not to mention the damage that will occur to the existing substrate, especially gypsum plaster, render or wood based substrates. There will probably be a need for extra preparation to the substrate
now which could include re-plastering, or new boards being installed prior to the new tiles being fixed. This refurbishment of your old tiles has now turned into an expensive and long term project. If the existing tiles are sound
with no sign of hollows behind (tap the tiles with a coin and listen for a hollow sound) then it may be possible to tile onto existing tiles. It can be very expensive to buy new tiles or prepare your substrates prior to tiling, but if you want a change of look or to cover up those old tiles then another option may be tile paint.
Tile Paint – Another option?
There is another option which will certainly be a lot cheaper and less labour intensive than re-tiling and that is to cover existing tiles with paint. This will only be worth considering if you have a very tight budget or the existing tiles are so out-dated that a painted finish will be an upgrade to the overall design of the room. If you are considering using tile paint then there are some considerations before you start to give your refurbishment the best chance of lasting. You should only consider using the commercial tile paints available on wall tiles only, this is because a painted surface is not a wearing surface and used on floor tiles, the paint will wear off as the floor is trafficked. If you did want to consider painting floor tiles, it would need to be some Epoxy type paint which will not give you the type of finish on your floor that you require.
Tile Paint – preparation
As with most painting jobs, the success of the project will be directly related to how well the existing surface was prepared prior to painting the tiles. Preparation is the key to a finish which will last for many years and give you the kind of finish you can be proud of. Obviously tiles are not meant to be painted, on the surface of the tiles there is a glaze which you can basically think of as a “glass surface” and glass surfaces are not conducive to receiving paint successfully. Following are the steps you should take prior to painting your tiles:
- Clean the tiles and the grout joints with a proprietary tile cleaner that removes grease and other contamination and will strip back the tile to it original glaze. If you have cleaned your tiles with beeswax polish previously, you should give extra attention to make sure that wax layer is removed.
- If your tiles are high glazed tiles which most wall tiles are, then it will be beneficial to lightly sand the tiles to give a key to the surface that the primer and tile paint can stick too. Use an orbital sander to make the job easier, you are just looking to remove the high gloss finish on the surface of the tile here. After you have sanded the tiles, clean any dust off the from the tiles and grout joint. (read the instructions from your tile paint manufacturer as some may supply a primer which negates the need for sanding)
- If your grout joints have gaps or holes or are starting to crack, it will be worth raking out a small amount of grout around the damaged area and replacing with new grout, make sure that the grout in most areas of the tiling is flush finished with the tiling as otherwise the grout joints will stand out when painted.
If you take away the preparation stage or paint your tiles with a standard emulsion or latex paint, the surface of the paint will start to peel off in a very short time and will require more extensive removal and remedial work to correct!
Tile Paint – Application
When it comes to applying your tile paint, it is worth considering using a small radiator roller or similar which will take away the brush marks you invariably get when using a paint brush to apply paint. If you do use a brush, then do it in much the same way you would normally apply gloss paint, keeping the strokes even and vertical and making sure that no drips of paint accrue on the surface. Read the instructions for your particular manufacturer as to how many coats your tiles will need with the paint, it may depend on the colour of your existing tiles as a dark colour being covered with a white paint may require at least two coats.
Most of the mainstream paint manufacturers manufacture a tile paint, the best systems certainly appear to be the two-part primer and paint solutions that are available from major D.I.Y chains. The instructions do vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, so please be sure to read the instructions carefully in regards to drying times, application of primers and how long the drying process will take.
As most of the tile paints available are white, you could consider buying some decorative pvc tile stickers which are waterproof and available in many different designs to suit bathrooms or kitchens. They are not hard-wearing such as a tile transfer but it should not be an issue on bathroom wall tiling and may just give the finished look less of a clinical white appearance.
Tile paint is certainly not the most comprehensive tile refurbishment option, but it is certainly the cheapest option and may be worth considering as a stop-gap or if you want to give your bathroom tiles a lift prior to putting your property on the market. If you want a more comprehensive solution that is a compromise then consider tiling onto existing tiles instead of tile paint.