Wanna learn how to paint floor tiles and transform your space on a budget? I’m sharing all the specifics today. It’s easier than you might think.
Painting tile floors is an easy, cost-effective way to completely transform a front porch, back patio, or even an indoor space.
And after buying our home, I knew I wanted to give it a try in at least one area: the front porch. The tile was stained in certain spots and just looked a little bland. Initially, I wanted to re-tile it all, but I thought I’d give painting it a try first. I figured it couldn’t hurt. If it didn’t work, I’d just move forward with new tile.
Now that the tile painting is complete (and we’ve had a few months of use to see how it would wear), I couldn’t be more thrilled with the decision. The paint has held up great and the pattern adds personality and style to an otherwise basic porch.
If you’ve ever wondered how to paint floor tiles in your own home, click through for the tutorial. Bonus! I have a cost breakdown so you know exactly what to expect.
I’m no stranger to painting tile. I painted the tile for my old studio kitchen (DIY budget backsplash) and even tried a small scale tile floor project around the same time. BUT now that I have more experience, and some solid advice from a professional painter, I know exactly how to do it the RIGHT way.
Tile Painting Supplies and Equipment Needed
- Benjamin Moore Floor & Patio Low Sheen Enamel
- paint roller and extension pole
- paint brush
- stencil (I’ll explain how I made my own)
- pressure washer (or hose)
- flooring topcoat (optional)
- garden kneeler (optional but your knees will thank you)
What type of paint do you use to paint tile?
At the recommendation of the owner of the paint store I’ve been going to, I went with Benjamin Moore Floor & Patio Low Sheen Enamel. They can mix whatever color you want (can even color match if desired), so you’re not limited to a handful of colors. I believe you can get ANY BM paint color in this floor and patio paint.
I selected Carter Gray for the base color and Finnie Gray for the half circle pattern.
The BM Floor and Patio Paint worked well for me, so I would definitely recommend it. That said, whatever paint you choose for this floor painting project, make sure it is NOT regular interior or exterior paint. You want to make sure to use something that is specifically made for floors. It will withstand foot traffic, regular paints will not.
Should you use a roller to brush for stenciling on tile?
I used both and that’s what I would recommend for the most part. A paint brush is great for touch up and the roller will do a great job for the bulk of the painting.
But if you were going to use just one, definitely go with the roller! It’s the fastest way to get the paint down and easier to control the amount of paint you have on a roller than a brush. That’s important bc you want thin layers so your stencil design doesn’t bleed off the edges.
How to Paint Tile Floors
1. Pressure wash and/or deep clean the space.
I started by pressure washing the entire porch. There were some small paint spills and drips from when we painted the exterior and I also wanted to remove any dirt / debris that had built up, since we spend a lot of time out here.
It was recommended to me at the paint store that before I started painting, I wait two full days after pressure washing to make sure the tile was completely dry. Since our tile is slightly porous, the water can go deep into the tile and if paint is put on tee tile surface before the underneath is dry, it could cause issues with the paint finish down the line.
I felt like that was extreme because I hate waiting. BUT I listened. And waited 48 hours from the time I pressure washed until the time I started painting. Obviously up to you, but I wanted to pass that info along since it was a recommendation from a paint specialist.
**You can also use a cleaner at this stage, like TSP or Krud Kutter, which would be especially helpful if you don’t have access to a pressure washer.
2. Sweep and wipe up any remaining debris before painting.
On the day that I started painting, I first gave the entire porch a good sweeping, to make sure any new leaves, dirt, and debris were gone before I started.
3. Next, painting time!
Using a roller with an extension handle (so you don’t have to bend down), paint the entire floor surface of your porch / patio with the base color. I used Benjamin Moore Floor & Patio Low Sheen Enamel in Carter Gray.
Wait for the paint to dry according to the instructions before applying a second coat. You’ll definitely want to do two coats.
4. Make a stencil.
While I was waiting for the base coats to dry, I made a stencil for the floor tile pattern.
I used my Cricut Maker and Cricut stencil vinyl (which has a sticky backing) so I could get customize the measurements to the exact width and height I wanted. My tiles are 21 inch squares, so I made the half circle shape the same length as the tile (21 inches). And then I shortened the height so that I could have a more organic looking shape with plenty of the base color showing.
I made 5 or 6 stencils total (all the same) so I didn’t have to wait for the paint on one stencil to dry before using it again for the next tile. It worked great to rotate them out. I never had to stop to wait for paint to dry and they all kept they’re stickiness for the most part.
5. Start stenciling / painting the design.
Remove the sticky backing from the stencil (if applicable) and start painting the design. I used a combination of a brush and a roller, using a thin layer of paint so I didn’t overfill the stencil and cause it to bleed.
I also found it really helped to plan out the direction of the surrounding tiles as I went, trying to keep a variety of placements going so that nothing felt too uniform. That’s my preference, but you might like them all going in the same direction. You do you.
*For the half circle design, I used Benjamin Floor & Patio Low Sheen Enamel in Finnie Gray.
**The stenciling portion of the project is a good time to breakout a garden kneeler or even some kneepads if you have them. Obvs not required, but your knees will thank you. There’s a lot of kneeling required for the stenciling work and it takes a while to complete.
6. Remove stencil, grab a new one, and repeat with painting.
Remove the stencil while the paint is still wet and place it back onto its paper backing when possible, while its drying.
Then grab a dry stencil and repeat the process with the next tile. Over and over again until the whole porch / patio is covered.
7. Apply another coat of paint to the stenciled design if necessary.
I did the second coat by hand. But you could always line the stencil up again for coat number two if it’s a simple shape, like mine. For more detailed stencils, you would want to stick to just one coat.
8. Add a topcoat / protective sealant. (optional)
After the paint has had time to dry and cure, add a top coat (optional). Full disclosure – I didn’t add a topcoat to our painted tile floors and it’s totally fine as is, but if I were to do it again, I would do a topcoat.
There are a few (really minor) spots that the paint has come up. There’s only three spots and they’re all smaller than a quarter (two of the three are smaller than a dime), but it annoys me. Mentioning it just to keep things real / honest.
Is the tile slippery once painted?
This question was asked a lot of Instagram when I shared the process originally.
I wasn’t concerned about whether the tile would be slippery when wet because our front porch is completely covered AND it almost never rains in the part of California we live in. In the last year, I think it’s rained twice.
BUT one thing didn’t think about was our sprinklers. Our sprinklers hit the tile once with water and it was slippery and also made the tile a little dirty. Easy to clean, but a little annoying. So, we adjusted the sprinklers and now they don’t touch the porch area. No more water to worry about for us!
If you get a lot of rain in your area though and plan to use a painted tiled area while wet, I would look into a different kind of paint. If you’re porch is covered like mine and there’s not a lot of opportunities for it to get wet, go for it on this project! Highly recommend.
How long does it take to stencil tile flooring?
This is totally dependent on the size of the porch / flooring you are painting. And there is a lot of drying time involved.
My front porch is 25 feet long and 8 ft deep (roughly 200 sq ft) and I completed the project by myself. With paint drying times included, it took a few days. But the actual amount of time I was painting was under 15 hours. This would be shortened dramatically with another person helping.
How much did this tile painting project cost?
Including all the paint and supplies, it was under $150 in total. I think the actual total was around $135, after looking at my receipts.
I used less than two gallons of paint total (one gallon for the base paint and about a half gallon for the half circle design). I already had the paint brush, roller, and extender. But even with purchasing all of those items new, it will still would have come in right at $150.
For the price, I don’t think you can beat it for this kind of transformation. Even the cheapest tile on the market would cost more than that for the square footage I was able to cover.
How is the painted tile holding up after use?
At the time I’m writing this post, it’s been three months since I painted the tile. So far, so good. We use this outdoor space every single day and my son runs all of his cars through it pretty much daily. Lol.
There have been a couple of very small spots (smaller than a quarter) that the paint came up for some reason (likely pieces of debris that I missed when painting originally), but that’s it. Other than that, its holding up great.
Have any other questions about this tile painting project? Let me know in the comments and I’ll be happy to answer.