You can permanently paint ceramic tile – no kiln required! The following instructions below describe two different methods. The heat set method is for tiles that are not yet installed and can be “baked” in an oven. The air dry method is for tiles that are already installed.
The Heat Set Method
For the heat set method, use Liquitex Glossies – water-based acrylic enamel paints that are formulated to adhere to slick, non-porous materials. When heat set, Liquitex Glossies dry to a scratch resistant, high gloss finish.
First, clean the tiles with soap and warm water. After rinsing, follow up a second time with rubbing alcohol or a 50/50 mixture of water and vinegar. Blot dry with a paper towel and avoid touching the tiles.
Next, it’s time to paint. Liquitex Glossies are very easy to use and to clean up. They can be mixed together to achieve any color and air dry by evaporation. Mistakes can be corrected by wiping with a damp rag while the paint is still wet, or repainting if the first coat has already dried.
After the paint has completely air dried, place the tiles on a cookie sheet and put in a cold oven. Set the temperature to 325 degrees F and “bake” for 45 minutes, then turn off the oven, open the door, and let the tiles slowly cool.
Test the paint finish by lightly scratching the surface with your fingernail. If the paint can be scratched, increase either the drying time or the baking time. The tiles can then be installed using a non-abrasive acrylic tile grout. The tiles can be cleaned with a mild dish detergent and warm water – no abrasive cleaners.
The Air Dry Method
The air dry method requires a little more work, but it is well worth it if you want to paint ceramic tiles that were previously installed. For this method, use Delta Air Dry PermEnamel products.
To prepare the tiles for painting, first clean the tiles with water and mild dish detergent – do not use glass cleaner, vinegar or any other additive on the tiles. Follow up by applying Delta PermEnamel Surface Conditioner with a clean, dry, soft paintbrush. The conditioner has a life of four hours, so apply only to areas that can be painted within that timeframe. The conditioner will leave a film on the tiles. Do not wipe off this film – it contains the bonding agents needed to make the paint permanent.
After the conditioner has had adequate time to evaporate, paint the tiles using Delta Air Dry PermEnamel Paint. One word of caution – this paint does not mix well with water. Do not use water to dilute the paint, and make sure the brush is completely dry if it rinsed with water. To correct painting mistakes, reapply the surface conditioner, allow to evaporate, and then repaint.
After the paint has completely dried, apply PermEnamel Glaze to further protect the new paint. Apply at least two coats of glaze and allow one hour of dry time between applications.
The tiles must be air dried for ten full days before the paint is considered permanent. No water or other liquid should come in contact with the tiles during this time. Once cured, the tiles can be washed with warm water and a mild dish detergent – no abrasive cleaners.
Although both methods are considered permanent, be cautious about using the tiles in areas that are repeatedly exposed to hot water, as well as areas of heavy use.
Both methods can be used to paint the tiles an entirely differently color, but if you feel creative, try painting designs on the tiles – either freehand or using stencils.
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