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For example, in our recent One Room Challenge bathroom makeover, we chose to update our outdated brass shower doors by spray painting and adding trim to them rather than purchasing and installing new ones.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

  • 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!





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

  1. Shiplap is classic..even if you don’t live in a farmhouse. I do live in a farmhouse and have it in several rooms. It’s beautiful!

  2. Hi Christine! I’m not sure if porcelain would adhere to the paint as well – I’m honestly not sure. And I had a lot of people tell me to just leave it and embrace the character. That actually what I did! My home is pretty modern but I’m ok with that. 😉 There are a lot of people that seem to have successfully done this with enamel or epoxy paint, you might research that for your white floor! 🙂

  3. coming in at the eleventh hour and so appreciate your post I am not deterred in the desire to throw fate to the wind…
    I have porcelain tile on the front porch front path and fascia boards on the stairs

    I live in Sacramento winters long and wet and summers long and hot…..
    i so want to paint white 🥰
    It is a low traffic area as I use the side gate as my main entrance area
    my question is my tile is porcelain not ceramic do the same rules apply and seconds any new information i would greatly appreciate
    I actually like the paint lifted look it adds so much character but i can see if you home is more modern it would look just appear like a error😁

  4. Cathie – I still love the shiplap! And I will definitely do it again. I’ve found my style has gotten more refined and so I like the tongue and groove style better since it’s more modern. But don’t feel it will ever go out of style!

  5. Argh people people people! Do not use polycrylic on floors. It’s a light coat meant for light use furniture. No wonder you had issues! Preparing also matters- a lot…tile has to be buffed lightly to get rid of any sheen or residue and to ensure the paint adheres correctly… and don’t use chalk paint!

    How do you feel about the shiplap now that it’s a fad and over with? Just wondering…I liked it but never did it cause 1. I don’t live ina farmhouse and thought it would feel out of place and 2. Was afraid it would be dated so fast.

    Would you do it again?

  6. Absolutely right – I didn’t wait long enough and so that’s why I wanted to warn others so it didn’t happen to them!

  7. On every can of paint is written how long you have to wait before you can use your painted things. Maybe you waited not enough. Usually it takes like 20 days to dry out without using and washing it.

  8. How devastating! It really looked beautiful! I just finished stenciling a guest bathroom! I hope it lasts a few years! I did major prep on the tile (cleaning, etching and sanding), then 2 coats of high bonding primer, 2 coats concrete and floor paint, stencil paint, then 3 coats of polyurethane for floors! I plan on letting it cure for 3 weeks before it gets used. Not sure what else I could do to protect it! I will put 3 rugs down too! Thanks for sharing!

  9. I wish I could leave a picture. I used “Behr Floor and Porch” paint over my ugly Spanish tile in the entryway. While it looked nice and really refreshed the area for a week, for months it started chipping, staining, it was so ugly!!! So my kids got to listen to fun music and help me peel it off. It’s still stuck in the grout. Worst cheap decision of my life! I wish there were more “fail” posts and fewer “look at me—I’m perfect” posts. Thank you.

  10. I recently finished my small bathroom floor with Rustoleum 2step process. Some peeled away today after 2 coats of each. Another problem was keeping dog hairs off the floor – no matter what, they snuck in

  11. Yup, you are not alone. As much research as we did, I chose polyurethane to seal. Every day it turned more yellow. We did white chalk painted with light gray stencil. Somewhere I missed reading about oil based poly yellowing. You live and you learn. We are starting over, priming first this time (paint chipped up too easy when removing it by sand in and scraping). Then we are going to seal with polycrylic. Fingers crossed.

  12. So glad I saw your review before deciding to do this. You did such a beautiful job, it’s a bummer that it wasn’t as durable as was expected!

  13. Susan – so I assume by your post that you do step 1 of the kit – let it dry – do your stenciling – let it dry – and then continue to step 2 of the kit?

  14. I know this is an old post, I want to say thank you for your honesty. As a former home/DIY blogger, I can absolutely attest that bloggers RARELY show their mistakes and that “pressure to be perfect” (and continually turnout engaging, original, new content) is one of the reasons I retired my blog and moved on. What to be better than so many!! Regardless the floor was gorgeous!

  15. We’ve had other chips and damage not from the rug, so I don’t think that was the only issue. I think the biggest issue was that we didn’t PRIME. I was on the HGTV “Fix My Fail” and the designers said the biggest thing needed to make this project a success is to prime (at least two coats) before painting!

  16. Thank you so much for your honesty! I was so sad for you when I read about the paint failure, tho! What a disappointment after so much time and work. I know I would have cried myself!
    I came across your blog because I’m finally starting to think seriously about painting our 400+SF of kitchen tile. I do paint a LOT of things (I’m a certified interior designer and I refinish furniture). I have experience with a variety of different types of paints, and I love to research products. I’m still nervous about putting in all the effort to paint our kitchen tile, tho, and the possibility that it might just chip or peel. The kitchen floor gets so much use! I’ll continue my research on products before I really take on this endeavor!
    Thanks again for your honesty, and admitting the mistake. I do wonder if your paint would have held up just fine if the rug hadn’t been placed on it? So sorry!!

  17. I have done two out of three tiled bathrooms in my current house with Rustoleum’s 2-step floor tile paint system. The first bathroom I painted, stenciled, and sealed with this product was my 10 year old son’s bathroom, of course I followed the cleaning and curing directions very carefully, and a year later there isn’t even a millimeter or peeling or chipping. It’s as perfect as on the first day. I use vinegar to mop my floors with. That or Clorox wipes for small areas. No issues. But we don’t wear shoes inside the house, so maybe that helps. Anyway, I picked this product because it’s the only product on the market I’m aware of (after months of research) that is actually intended for ceramic tile. The paint (step 1) is super tacky so it sticks to the tile and it actually helps in stenciling because your stencil sticks better and doesn’t move when you roll your stencil with paint. Then the top coat (step 2) seals the paint and creates an amazing almost tile-like finish. I prefer the semi-gloss top coat, even in a wet zone. If I could post pics on here, I would. I have had ZERO issues with this product, and that’s after I did a bathroom tile in a previous home with oil based paint, which chipped in a couple spots just after a few weeks (and smelled for a month), so I can say that it’s not my first time painting tile. 💪😬

  18. 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….

  19. Please let us know if you do redo it and how it turns out! I’ve wanted to do that on my tiles upstairs but had you peeling floors in my mind every time I even consider it!

  20. 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.

  21. 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

  22. “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

  23. I was thinking this exact thing but putting a white wash over the top to “mute” the distressed look.

  24. Oh man, what a bummer! Yes, the reality of DIY is not all projects work out and we have to be ok with that!

  25. 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.

  26. 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 🙂

  27. 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!

  28. 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.

  29. 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!

  30. 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.

  31. 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!

  32. 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!

  33. 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. 🙂

  34. 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. 🙂

  35. 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!

  36. 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.

  37. 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.

  38. 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.

  39. 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.

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

  41. 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.

  42. 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!

  43. If I did it again, I think I would definitely use an epoxy top coat rather than the poly!

  44. 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?

  45. 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.

  46. 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.

  47. 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!

  48. 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.

  49. 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. 🙂

  50. 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.

  51. 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.

  52. 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?! 😉

  53. 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).

  54. 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!

  55. 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.

  56. 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. 🙁

  57. 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.

  58. 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!

  59. 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!

  60. 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.

  61. 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!

  62. 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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