How to Refinish Your Kitchen or Bathroom Tile

How to Refinish Your Kitchen or Bathroom Tile
So, first things first, a little back story.
When we bought our house in October, this is what the kitchen looked like.
It had great bones, as they say, but the finishes were an eye sore and felt very dated. The cabinets were dark, and made the space feel like a cave. Chalk paint took care of that problem. You can read my How-To on refinishing kitchen cabinets by clicking here.

The other thing that I really disliked from the start were the dingy tan tile countertops with brown grout. An element that stood out even more after I painted the cabinets.

Since we plan to completely renovate the kitchen in five years or so, I began searching for an affordable way to refinish our existing countertops rather than replacing them all together. That’s when I discovered something awesome. Something that actually worked — tile paint!

Now I’m not going to lie, at first I had some hesitations about tile paint. . .

Does it actually work?

Will it look good?

Is it hard to do?

Will it last?

But after a little online research and many positive reviews, I decided to give it a try with Rust-oleum Tub & Tile Refinishing Kit.

Supplies I Used for this Project:

The first thing you have to do is remove all the caulk from the areas you will be painting, since you can’t paint over it. (You can go back and add it once your tiles have finished drying. I underestimated the amount of time it would take to remove all of the old caulk that filled in the seam between the counters and the backsplash. I found a caulk remover product from Lowe’s that made the job a little easier, but it was still a pain.



After removing all of the caulk, the next step is to clean the tile very thoroughly. So thoroughly, that the cleaning process itself is 4 steps.

Here are the cleaning steps I followed:

  1. Clean with bleach and water. Rinse.
  2. Scrub with Comet and abbrassive pad. Rinse.
  3. Clean with Lime-A-Way. Rinse.
  4. Sand with 400/600 wet/dry sandpaper. Rinse.

The result of this cleaning marathon are squeeky clean tiles. Allow them to dry for a good hour before you begin painting. When you are ready to paint, tape off the edges with painter’s tape and open as many windows as possible to help venitilate the room. The fumes from this product are strong, so wear a face mask also. Avoid opening windows directly by the tiles you are painting, because dust or debri could stick to them.

There are a couple of things you should know before you bite the bullet and start painting. First, make sure to use a foam roller. Otherwise, you’ll have tiny hairs sticking to your counters. I was warned by several bloggers to only use foam rollers, and they did not steer me wrong. The paint is so strong that it will eat through the foam, so buy several of the foam brushes and rollers. They’re very inexpensive, and the end result will turn out much better if you have the right supplies. Anything this paint touches is ruined, including clothing, so don’t wear your favorite pair of jeans (like I did) when you take this project on. Also, do not use the same paint tray for consecutive coats. Use a liner and throw it away after each coat, even if the paint in it looks dry and safe to pour over. The new paint will re-activate the old stuff juuussssttttt enough to leave annoying bumps all over your nice smooth paint job that will make you want to cause physical pain to the next person you see.

The Rust-Oleum paint is a two-part epoxy paint that is engineered to bond tightly to ceramic, porcelain or fiberglass tile.The first step to painting is to mix the paint by pouring part A (the activator) into part B (the base). Painting tile may sound a little scary and intimidating, but really, it’s no different from painting anything else. Once the product is mixed, use your brush to cut in the edges and corners, just like you would if you were painting wall. When that is done go after it with a roller. Try to work as quickly as possible, because the paint becomes tacky after just a few minutes. With just one coat, you’ll probably be able to see your tile underneath. You only need to wait a few hours before applying a second coat.



Here’s a picture of what it looked like after the first coat.

After the second coat dried, this is what my countertops looked like. Two coats totally did the trick and was plenty to cover my tile and provide a great looking finish. You may need less or more coats, depending on the surface you paint.

When looking at the counters really closely, you can see imperfections, but the counters weren’t perfect to begin with. Overall, the finish on the paint is surprisingly great. It covered the tiles extremely well and is holding up after nearly two months of use. The instructions said the epoxy paint would cure in a few days. Yes, it can be frustrating to wait so long, but ultimately I was pleased with the final outcome. Because of the lengthy curing time, I chose to paint the counters the night before our house was fumigated for termites (another perk of buying a 90 year old home.) The fumigation forced us to be out of the house for 3 days and we planned to move into the house right after that was completed, so this was the only window of opportunity I had to get the counters completed.

This kitchen transformation is one of my favorites. With that being said, here is the final product….bright and clean, which was just what I was hoping for! It went from being a total eye sore to being my favorite room in the house. It just goes to show you that you can work with what you’ve got in order to spruce things up on a friendly budget. Mission accomplished.

Click here to check out the full reveal of our kitchen makeover with all the sources & pricing.


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