Painting Bathroom Tile: Before & After

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My downstairs bathroom has taken up too much DIY planning brainpower over the past year as I’ve pondered what to do with it. There is no budget at this time for a renovation (unless an issue arises and want turns into need), so I’ve been working on easy cosmetic upgrades.

I’ve done the basics: switched out the mirror and lighting, painted, covered the plain white floor tile, added beadboard wallpaper and a chair rail, and removed an old and grimy mirrored (and mildewed!) shower door.

But what to do about that tile?

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You might be thinking to yourself, “Hey! That tile’s not so bad!” And the blue isn’t. It would not be my first choice, but it certainly would be manageable. But on closer inspection you will see that the “white” tile is not exactly white.

It’s more of an off-white and flecked with lovely goldenrod speckles. And the grout clearly leaves a lot to be desired!

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Beautiful, right?! On top of the 1980s-inspired speckled tile, there was a broken tile that resulted from removing the clunky old shower door, and blue anchors that were used when the shower door was attached.

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An interim solution had been to replace what was left of the old tile and use caulk to keep things in place. This was, clearly, not an ideal solution.

After much searching, I happened across a handful of blogs that used the Rustoleum Tub and Tile Refinishing Kit. Other than reports of a really strong smell, the project seemed to go over well for a lot of other bloggers. And since this tile couldn’t get any worse, combined with the fact that the shower doesn’t get a lot of use anyway since we have two other full bathrooms, I decided to go for it!

The supplies I gathered were:

Once I had everything in place, I spent an evening cleaning the tile as much as possible. I removed caulk, scrubbed the tile with the sandpaper, and cleaned with Krud Kutter. A lot of the blogs I read used more abrasive cleaners on their tile, but I went with the Krud Kutter because there is what I had on hand, and I really didn’t want to have any stronger fumes at that point since my children were home.

With the cleanup work complete, I used painters tape around the perimeter of the tile.

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I painted on a day my kids were out of the house because I didn’t want them exposed to any of the fumes. Needless to say, the pressure was on for this project to go well, because I had a definite time limitation, roughly 4 hours from start to finish!

The refinishing kit comes in two parts, the base and the activator. You simply dump the activator into the base, mix everything up, and you’re ready to paint. Well, it wasn’t quite that easy. I had a hard time getting the two products to mix well together, resulting in really runny paint. I ended up having to put the lid back on the base and give the can a few good shakes to full mix the products.

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The first coat when on fairly evenly, but I was definitely skeptical. Not only did the blue show through quite easily, but the speckles did as well!

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On even closer inspection, my initial coat of paint wasn’t very promising!

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After letting the paint dry for about 30 minutes, I added the second coat. I made sure to switch to a new tray and a new roller. I had read that the paint can break down the rollers, so I wanted to make sure that I had a fresh roller that had not been exposed to the chemicals, and a clean tray to ensure there weren’t any foam particles left behind.

The second coat covered a lot better, but you can see that I still had a hard time covering some of the blue tile. I think part of this was due to the fact that I didn’t do a stellar job cleaning the tile the night before. It was challenging to get the paint to adhere to the surface in those spots.

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Another 30 or so minutes of dry time, and then I added the third and final coat. As you can see, I was able to cover up the blue tiles that were giving me a hard time, and in general get even coverage throughout!

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I let the paint dry for about 2 days before removing the tape, caulking, and putting the shower curtain rod back into place. Fortunately, we don’t use the shower so I didn’t have to worry about exposing the tile to water too soon.

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Some observations after completing this project:

  • Yes, the paint smells! It’s strong. The ventilation mask helped, along with keeping windows open and fans running. Even thought I kept the bathroom door shut throughout the project, the rest of the house definition smelled like paint the rest of the day, but everything went back to normal the next day.
  • Despite my best efforts, the paint did eat away a little bit at my foam roller, which I knew was a possibility. This resulted in some of the tiles having a little bit of a bumpy texture. That personally doesn’t bother me, but you may want to experiment with different rollers.
  • Each coat went on really fast! It was a very easy project. I did have a hard time uniformly painting the grout, which was noticeable since the grout was rather…grungy. I used a foam brush to touch up the worst spots.
  • I had also debated painting the tub, especially since there are so many marks left from the old shower door and the fact that the white tile revealed a very dingy bathtub. But I think I would have a hard time evenly painting the tub. And while the paint is definitely an enamel and feels strong, I would be concerned about how well the paint would hold up long term on the tub. But never say never!

All-in-all, the project was around $75 for the paint and extra supplies, and about 2 hours of cleaning/prep and about 4 hours of actual painting. Considering how low-traffic this bathroom is, this was the perfect level of investment! The space is much brighter, and I was also able to make the broken tile and old anchor holes blend in better with a combination of paint and caulk.

 

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DIY Bathroom Floor: Vinyl Decals

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After moving into our home we ended up having two of our three bathrooms renovated, primarily out of necessity (spoiler alert: issues with uneven floors, exactly what one would expect from a tipsy house).

But we left the main floor bathroom as-is because it was not a big priority and the issues with it were primarily cosmetic.

One project I’ve been desperately searching for an easy solution for is redoing the floors.

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Now, there are far worse bathroom floors out there in the world. These tiles at least are neutral/white and not cracked or damaged. They just happen to show every single speck of dirt, and with three kids, there are many specks of dirt and they add up quickly. All over this floor.

Also, because the floors in this bathroom are not completely even (again, tipsy house problems), the toilet does not sit flush on the floor, and therefore there was a layer of grime/yuckiness that was surrounding the base of the toilet and I just couldn’t look at it anymore.

Now, the logical thing to do would be to get the floors redone so that everything could be properly leveled out, fixing the floor and toilet issues, but we’re on a budget here at tipsy house so that is not in the cards at the moment. I needed a super easy DIY-friendly solution that required very little skill to execute.

Enter: vinyl decals.

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Now, we all know that vinyls decals have basically turned the DIY home decor world upside down in the last 5 years. I stick them on everything in order to achieve a quick and easy design refresh.

When I came across Snazzy Decals on Etsy, I was skeptical at best. It seemed like a terrible idea, especially in a bathroom that is both high traffic and prone to messes and mishaps. But I read through five-star review after five-star review for Snazzy Decals, looked at some “after” pictures by past customers, and went for it. They promised to be opaque, waterproof, and durable, so after a few months of waffling, I finally decided to test that promise.

The decals come in either individual squares or long rolls with faux grout lines. I opted to buy the individual squares. And of course, my tiles were not a standard size (just under 12″ square) so I requested a custom order.

Even with my custom order, my decals shipped within a couple of days of my order, and arrived all the way from Malaysia within a week of my order being placed. And of course, I immediately ripped open the package and installed them that evening. Patience is not my strong point.

On first sight, they seemed rather thin and I was skeptical. But since I’d only be out around $100 and a few hours, with no long-term impact on the tile underneath, it was worth a shot.

Installation was as easy as you could imagine. I may have pulled the backing paper completely off of the first square and then laid it down onto a tile. Don’t do that. You will have no less than 75 bubbles under the decal that you will never, ever get rid of.

Instead, unroll one edge by a little bit, stick it down, then slowly pull off the backing paper with one hand while smoothing the decal out with the other. Once you get into the swing of things, you’ll be able to lay down a decal without a single bubble underneath. And you will feel accomplished and awesome as you completely transform your floor!

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Now, if that’s not a miraculous (& easy!) transformation, I don’t know what is.

I’m happy to report that these decals have been in place for around 3 weeks and so far, so good. I was afraid they would get dented/scratched from my kids dropping things on them or from shoes, but they don’t have any marks on them. They are staying put despite being just a millimeter too big for the tiles (my fault when measuring the existing tile). And I have sworn my five-year-old to secrecy, never to reveal to our twins that these are stickers (after which they would make it their mission to pull up each and every one).

But the best part (beyond, you know, the pretty pattern)? The decals have masked the grime around the base of the toilet. Hallelujah.

I’ll be the first to say that this is not a long-term solution, but rather a short-term bandaid over sad, old floors. I know that one day we will prioritize this bathroom on the list of tipsy house projects, but until then, we will be using decal trickery to make our bathroom look refreshed and updated.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to admire my floor…