How to Ruin your DIY Painted Tile Floor

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Can you paint floor tiles? Yes, but be sure to read this honest review of my painted tile floors and the reality that DIY isn’t always the best option. I’m sharing why I would recommend thinking twice before painting tile floors based on our experience with painted bathroom floors.

Painting Tile Floors Honest Review

I really hope you know by now that one of my biggest goals with this blog is to inspire people to create a home they love at a price they can afford.

I want to help you come up with ideas for ways to update or decorate your home without spending tons of money! Many times, that involves lower-cost, DIY versions of projects or updates.

For example, in our recent One Room Challenge bathroom makeover, we chose to update our outdated brass shower doors by spray painting and adding trim to them rather than purchasing and installing new ones.

I wanted the look of high-end, glass paneled shower doors, but didn’t have it in my budget to purchase new ones, so I created something similar in style at almost no cost. And that’s the beauty of DIY!

But to be honest with you, the fantastic world of DIY and low-cost creativity is often laced with imperfection.

My shower doors look perfect from the outside, but from inside the shower you can see the superglue through the glass. If you get up close, you can see spots where the trim isn’t cut at exactly the right angle or it’s actually lifting up off the glass.

Those imperfections don’t make the project any less fabulous, but they do differentiate the DIY from the new.


My biggest struggle with DIY blogging is that those imperfections or DIY failures are RARELY discussed.

DIY bloggers always talk about how amazing their ideas and projects turn out but rarely address how well they hold up or give you close-up realistic looks at the results.

Don’t get me wrong, I love DIY. I love creating something beautiful at a fraction of the cost.

But because I just want this blog to give you real information on how to IMPROVE your home, I’m going to be honest with you when my DIY ventures don’t turn out how I’d hoped.

Or, at least you’ll have more information about the long-term credibility of a DIY improvement before you take on the project.

And so, today’s post is an honest review of our DIY, faux cement, painted tile floors. If you’re wondering “Can you paint floor tiles?” then you NEED to continue reading about our experience with painted bathroom floors!

An Honest Review of my
Experience with Painting Tile Floors

When we chose to paint the tile in our master bathroom renovation, I did what the typical DIY’er does and I searched Pinterest for a tutorial. I knew someone out there had done it before and blogged about it – I just needed to learn from their experience!

There were LOTS of step-by-step tutorials to read through and all of them gave a clear “Yes!” to my underlying question of, “can you paint floor tiles?” The best part was that all of them stated that, years later, their painted bathroom floors were still holding up great!

So, I ordered my stencil and then read every tutorial I could on the process to see what each person did.

Many of the tutorials used chalk paint and a polyacrylic sealer, while some used garage floor epoxy paint.

Since I was short on time (the ORC has a tight time-frame!) I had to choose the quickest method, which ended up being chalk paint and polyacrylic.

Most popular methods for chalk paint on tile floor:

  • Two coats of base color
  • One coat of the stencil
  • Touch-up paint
  • Three coats of sealer


I probably spent about 15 total hours painting it, and it looked STUNNING.

I LOVED IT. I was honestly convinced that the best DIY project ever was painting tile floors. And I was so excited that our painted bathroom floors looked just like expensive cement tile!


Then came the day for our bathroom photo-shoot. I had washed our bathroom rug in preparation for the photos but it wasn’t dry by the time we wanted to take pictures. I chose to lay the damp rug on the floor while we did the shoot – because there’s only so many hours of daylight and you can’t tell it’s wet in pictures – and had planned to finish drying it later that evening.

Unfortunately, I forgot to pick up that rug and put it back in the dryer. Instead it sat damp on the newly painted bathroom floors overnight and when I went to take a shower in the morning it had ruined the paint underneath it.

The dampness had caused the paint and sealer to dry up and curl away from the tile, leaving me with a mess of paint debris to clean up and a terribly looking floor…

Here are a few pictures of the damage after I cleaned it up best I could:


This was on the first day of using the bathroom.

I was heartbroken. And embarrassed.

I didn’t want anyone to know my project had failed, so I hid it. Every time someone came over and wanted to see the bathroom, I would make sure I was first to walk in so I could stand on top of the rug and make sure it didn’t shift and expose my mistake.

To say I’m disappointed would be an understatement, and while I’m sure there are people that have had great success with their paint on tile floor, we certainly aren’t those people.

I’m not saying we did it the absolute best way and treated it with perfect care, but I would have hoped that our painted bathroom floors could have held up to damp towels… Since then, we’ve not only dealt with more water damage (from small drips of water sitting on the tile) but also chips in the paint.

And so, if you are wondering “can you paint floor tiles?” – I will be bold enough to say, I don’t recommend painting floor tile. At least not with chalk paint and polyacrylic sealer the way I did.

I do plan on repairing our painted bathroom floors by sanding down the damage, touching up the paint and resealing the entire bathroom with 3 more coats of polyacrylic. Hopefully it works out ok in the long run because I love the look of paint on tile floor!

Do any of you have a DIY failure or project that didn’t turn out how you’d hoped? I can’t be the only one!





63 thoughts on “How to Ruin your DIY Painted Tile Floor”

  1. I’m in the process of redoing our whole house flooring. I always foul things up! ALWAYS!! I’m going to start a blog actually when I start the project next week. I’ve diy’d for years and it honestly never turns out right. I look at it like, oh well, it’s my spin 🙂 Everyone always likes it anyway….

  2. “Since I was short on time (the ORC has a tight time-frame!) I had to choose the quickest method, which ended up being chalk paint and polyacrylic.

    What is the ORC and why does it have a tight time frame? Why do people acronym everything these days? Please just use actual words that is what they are for, it takes so much longer to explain an acronym or look it up than it does to write out the actual words

    • Hi Maran – the ORC is the One Room Challenge and it’s a 6-week blog post series where bloggers all link up to each other’s projects. You can see the entire ORC project this post goes with here.

  3. THANK YOU for this honest review. I just finished doing our bathroom tile following the same tutorials. Our problem was that the poly we put overtop turned my pretty white a gross yellowed white that I could not live with. We decided to scrap it and tear it up. But I kept thinking: I cannot be the only one with this mistake! So thanks for your honesty 🙂

    • Hi Bonnie! I used chalk paint and polyacrylic from Rustoleum and basically cleaned the floor really well, painted two coats of black chalk paint, stenciled on the white chalk paint and then painted 3 coats of the sealer.

  4. I love you and give you so many props for admitting the reality of diy. My husband still doesn’t quite get it… we are talking thousands of dollars price difference, if you can see the glue from the inside you can see the goddamn glue. So be it.

  5. I was wondering about vinyl flooring, if it could be painted? That’s my worry, that it would not hold up and I’d have real mess!

    • I really don’t know how vinyl would hold up… My assumption would be not good, but you may find someone else that’s tried it and it’s worked well!

  6. It takes guts to admit this and I admire you for that. More importantly I want to thank you for your honesty as I know it’s helping so many fellow DIYers researching or attempting this same endeavor. I’m still gonna do it bec it looks so stinken awesome and is certainly cheaper than a new floor. I figure since mine is just a tiny powder room it won’t be as bad. What’s your opinion on doing this in a mudroom, laundry room and previously mentioned tiny powder room since they all share same flooring? Just feel that if I do the bathroom, i HAVE to do those other rooms bec it’s all same tiles. Thanks again for your honest review.

  7. Rachel, You did a fantastic job on the floors! Truly a work of art. We all have DIY projects that fail and that’s when we learn our tricks, right? The first time I upcycled an antique piece I think I had to redo it a few times due to the “unknown reason” which never allowed my paint to cure. The paint would peel off in sheets; I think the previous owner used a solvent. I had to sand it down to bare wood to make the project work. O well, we live and learn and decorate along the way!

  8. There is a new product out there called Rock Solid by Rustoleum that is designed specifically for painting on floor tiles. Maybe give that a shot!

  9. If I were you, I would be just as upset when it happened because it was perfect!! But to an outsider view, it looks kind of cool. Like ages character that you see in all the latest hipster restaurants. 🙂

    • I think so – I still haven’t tried, but I don’t see why I couldn’t sand them down and start over on just those then reseal the whole thing!

  10. Love the honesty so great to see those real moments! If anyone is looking for tips I did my highly used bathroom floor with messy drippy teenagers leaving towels and wet rugs on floor all the time even puddles and have had zero issues and it’s over a year old. I think the key is 2 coats of stix primer before I started, floor paint as base and 3 coats of General Finishes Matte poly on the top.

    • Thank you! I have teens also & wasn’t sure painted tiles would be a match for their wear & tear styles but I’m willing to do it now. Confidence restored.

    • I agree, a good oil based primer is key! I tried a water based one and it scratched off easily, then I redid it with an oil based primer and no issues, I also used a paint specifically for porch and patio floors rather than using chalk paint

  11. We did concrete counter tops and used Behr concrete “stain”. It was gorgeous we followed the instructions to the letter except we didn’t wait 30 days for the concrete to “dry”. I’m not sure if that was the big mistake or if the product just doesn’t work like it’s suppose to. I will say that I use the term “concrete stain” with caution as it is really more of a paint than a stain. It doesn’t deep into the concrete at all. It looked great for weeks. You could scratch it, drop things on it, whatever…no problems BUT the moment my kids pulled a size sticker off of a brand new new shirt and stuck it sticky side down on the counter, it pulled off a giant spot in the most noticeable area of my countertop. No way to hide it without sitting a book on top of it. I was heartbroken. The life of a DIY’er is wonderful and disappointing at times.

  12. For what it’s worth, I was researching polycrylic and it’s not recommended for floors – on any surface. I would suggest trying a floor sealer next time. Fingers crossed it holds up better.

    • Oh, good to know! I agree – an epoxy or floor sealer would be a better choice. I hope your project turns out well! 🙂

  13. Thank you for sharing re: your failed project of painting your bathroom tile floors! All that work… you must be heartbroken. I was going to tackle that very project. Thanks, again, for saving me from all the hard work & disappointment!

  14. I had a flop with polyacrylic too. I find any kind of moisture lifts it. Do you think the outcome would have been better with a polyurethane?

  15. I’m so sorry this happened to you. I am ready to seal my stenciled bathroom floor. 1 week project turned into 3 weeks. I’m so ready to be done. Much more of an undertaking than I expected. Thank you for sharing.

  16. Thanks for your honest review of the job, especially after life happened to your painted tile floor. I think it’s the propensity of most DIY bloggers to paint the picture that the project went well and that the outcome was amazing without returning sometime later to provide a reality check of the feasibility of the project as you do here. This sort of true, complete assessment helps folks like me to make more informed decisions around projects and whether to do them as well as how to avoid pitfalls such as you experienced. It definitely helps set realistic expectation. Thanks again!

  17. I just found your blog so please forgive me for asking something that might be written here or in another post, but did you sand the tile at all before you started painting? I’m very much considering painting the tile in my very tiny master bath with floor to ceiling tile. It’s atrocious, but I can’t be spending $30k to redo the whole bathroom since every square inch of floor and wall is covered tile.

  18. What if you just embrace it and do a wash over it and do an intentional “distressed” look? Like the distressed silk oriental rugs that are so in right now? Just a softer look on those beautiful tiles? Like they’ve been there for ages? It’s such a gorgeous floor.

    • Wendy, that’s an idea I’ve mulled over a lot, actually! I still haven’t done anything to repair the damage, so I may just have to do this. 🙂

  19. Thank you for showing the down side! Pretty sure I would’ve done the same thing:) This update will save me a ton of aggravation. I’m wondering if I could do this on a fireplace surround that currently has cultured marble (ugh).

    • Melinda, is the marble fireplace surround tile or slab? I don’t see why you couldn’t paint over marble, but are you sure you want to?! 😉

    • I painted over my marble surround. It wasn’t pretty marble, it was black with random shots of white and maroon….it looked like a galaxy far, far, away. I scuffed it up a little with sandpaper, used a good primer for slick surfaces (Stix, I think) and paint. I think I used chalk paint and polycrylic, but honestly you can use anything over the primer. I can report that since it’s not in a high traffic area, and no moisture, it’s still in absolute pristine condition after five years. The tile countertop in the bathroom I painted suffered the same fate as this bathroom floor did, after my daughter left a wet wash rag on it. The tile floor in my foyer I painted has held up well, but not perfectly (it was the same ugly marble as my fireplace surround) – no moisture, but several scratches from the dog’s toenails when she was playing and running through the house too fast, and another scratch from my husband moving furniture – I touch it up about once a year. I wouldn’t paint tile in a bathroom again for the same reasons outlined here, unless it was temporary or especially horrible… those cases, I probably would, because I just can’t help myself. ? But I’ve had zero problems with my fireplace surround.

    • I had a similar fireplace insert (ugly peach coloured 1970’s ‘marble’). I did a ton of googling and eventually decided on chalk paint, but after seeing prices, decided to make my own using black paint I already had, and a recipe i found online – plaster of paris mixed with the paint. I scuffed the surface and it went on fine, and still looks great. (The fireplace isn’t in use, though – If it had been, I’d have used a heat-resistant paint. Hope that helps!)

      And Rachel – I’ve had a similarly discouraging experience with painting outdoor tiles. Needed a colour that standard tile paints don’t come in, so did loads of research and eventually tried masonry paint in my custom colour over Zinsser Bullseye primer on half, and an exterior tile paint as primer on the other half, to see which wore best. 6 months later, both are chipped and peeling. It actually seems like just applying the masonry paint straight to the tile wears much better! so in my efforts to do the thing carefully and properly I actually wasted time and money, as have now scraped all the paint off and just applied the masonry paint directly to the tile. My point is: THIS STUFF HAPPENS TO US ALL, AND GOOD ON YOU FOR POINTING THAT OUT! 🙂
      I’m now looking for the best product to seal the finished job, tho – so if anyone has any suggestions… stone, concrete and tile sealers all seem to be designed for porous surfaces and can’t be applied over paint. And I want something matt, like the tiles are.

    • I too feel compassion for you. After just seeing your photo I realized how easily this could have been me. I hate it for you that it did not work. I praise you for your integrity in showing and sharing your mistakes. Thank you! I would have repeated youridtake had you not shared with us. I do have a thought, and not certain if it would work in a bathroom but would like to know what you think of possibly using Epoxy paints like what is used in garages. Do you think it is safe to paint using that on a small pantry bathroom with no tun or shower? Do you know of anyone who used this inside a house? I am concerned about inhalation of fumes. Thank you for your response.

      • I’ve read a few posts from other bloggers that did the epoxy paint and I don’t see why it couldn’t be done in a smaller bathroom. I’d recommend reading up on the epoxy a bit to make sure, but I’d imagine the fumes would be fine with a fan or something. 🙂

  20. I suffered similar. When I redid (and I completely redid!) I made my son’s use my bathroom (oh the agony!) for several days and that helped… BUT I have another issue. I went with a different sealer, the triple thick, and now I’m sanding and correcting the awful yellowing it has in some places ( no natural sunlight and I chose an oil base!) We live, learn, and cry I guess.

    • Oh, I’m so sorry to hear you’re having to try and fix a second try… 🙁 Such a bummer when these things don’t work out! That’s a great motto – Live, learn and try something different!

  21. Just curious how long you waited before putting the rug on the floor? Often times people confuse drying time with curing time. The polyacrylic may “dry” in a few hours but it probably takes about 30 days to “cure”. Best not to disturb the project for as long as you can (2-3 weeks) before subjecting to high traffic. Maybe stenciling the floor may be best for 1/2 bathrooms with no tub or shower.

    • Hi Brenda! Oh, I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t wait long enough to put the rug down… We were in a time crunch for taking pictures and I had only planned to put it down for a the photo shoot but forgot to pick it up after we were done. I think the floor would have done much better if I’d allowed it to cure properly – but even the spaces where I let it cure that long have experienced water damage. 🙁

  22. Oh, Rachel, I almost cried. 15 hours. You and your husband are awesome and I cannot thank you enough for your honesty! Thanks for showing us the good, the bad and the ugly.

    • Thank you, Claudine, for following along and supporting us in this journey! We love DIY renovations, but there are certainly times they aren’t pretty and I want to be sure my readers understand that. 🙂 We appreciate you!

  23. You’re amazing! Life is so like that sometimes where we find ourselves rushing in to cover our mistakes. It takes boldness and character to lift up the rug, move on, and help others. This post was quite more literal 😉 love you girl!

    • Wow – I never thought of it as brave, but that’s such a neat thing for you to say! I definitely want the reality that I’m human just like everyone else to be evident in my writing. 🙂 Thanks for encouraging me!

  24. Truly sorry it didn’t work out. It was beautiful and I’m sure you will find a way to make it much better than the first time! I love all you guys are doing!


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