Updating the Powder Room with Painted Tile

I have no idea why the previous owners tiled all the walls and ceiling in the powder room. Was that a thing for a while? So. Much. Tile. Aside from the dated tile, the rest of the powder room was do-able; the sink and toilet are a newer style that suits us fine and the wood floors that continue from the kitchen are so pretty!  We were making plans to tear out the tile and replace it with drywall, but then I got a wild hair and decided to try painting it instead. I figured painting the tile would be a cheap experiment and if it didn’t look right, we could go ahead with the drywall.

Transforming a dated bathroom with painted tile
dated bathroom: before
First, I scrubbed the walls with TSP and let them dry overnight. Then, I used an oil based primer followed by an oil based gloss paint. I rarely use oil based paint however, in this case, I needed something with high durability and shine. I did all the painting while Jesse and B were up in Omaha, which was good because oil based paint is so stinky! If you try painting tile (and you should!) be sure to open all the windows and wear a respirator!

I wasn’t entirely sure if I wanted to paint the tile gloss white, or go bold with a charcoal gray. After a bit of waffling, I started in with the gray, and chickened out part way through…I’m no expert, but I’ve painted enough rooms to know that if you get a wall mostly done and start to feel nervous, it’s time to bail! It took a few coats to cover the gray paint, but I love how the gloss white turned out!

painted bathroom tile, wine crate shelf, stained glass window
The antique stained glass window was a gift from my parents a few years ago and previously hung in the entry of our Omaha house. Full disclosure: We hung up white blinds first, which looked completely “off,” before discovering the stained glass window fit perfectly. The window faces our backyard, so privacy shouldn’t be an issue; bladder shy folks could always use the bathroom in the snug. I also painted the trim around the window gloss black, and plan to paint the interior portions once the weather warms up.
painted bathroom tile, wine crate shelf, stained glass window
painted bathroom tile, wine crate shelf, stained glass window

The shelf above the toilet is a wine crate that I picked up at a junk shop for a few dollars. I lightly sanded the crate to remove any potential slivers and applied a bit of walnut stain. I styled the shelf with baubles from around the house, plus extra toilet paper, lotion, and a stack of hand towels for guests.
I’m completely smitten with how our powder room turned out! Painting the tile and adding a few accessories was much faster and more budget friendly than all new drywall. Overall, we spent less than $150 (including the blinds we didn’t use). I would note, however, that if you had to purchase a stained glass window and a few accessories, the makeover would probably be closer to $400. Part of me wishes I was brave enough to have gone through with the dark gray paint, but the finished result is so lovely that I’m okay with it! Have you ever tried painting tile? How’d turn out?

Supplies for Painting Tile:
TSP de-greasing spray cleaner
Zinsser Fast Prime Oil Based Primer
Rustoleum Gloss White Oil Based Paint
Trim Brush
6″ short nap rollers
Respirator (important!)
Rubber or latex gloves

3 thoughts on “Updating the Powder Room with Painted Tile

  1. oh, wow–that looks amazing! the white tile with the black trim–yes! and the stained glass is beautiful. I'm a big fan of dark walls, but I think the white was the right choice in here.


  2. REALLY nice. I painted my kitchen counter tile when I lived in Hawaii 20 years ago. I used epoxy outdoor custom paint which I used to paint chipping tile around an outdoor pool for my employers. I found with constant counter use I had to repaint every 6 months, it would wear off from scrubbing, but I went from mexican blu and hello tile to ivory and it transformed the kitchen entirely. Regarding the grey paint, when you get tired of this look you can always repaint another color and it will just get better. I did it without a primer, so I think it would have been less repainting, had I known. I love Zinser primer for many things.


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