You can change tile colours fairly easily, disguise a pattern you hate, or add a border for a quick update, using tough tile paints.
This job doesn’t take long in itself, but there may be waiting time between steps. Painting tiles gives a reasonably long-wearing finish, depending on the amount of water the tiles are subjected to. This treatment is probably not a good idea for a tiled shower compartment, for example, but should be fine behind a sink.
You will need special tile paint (some types require their own primer), available from all DIY stores. Also a sponge, mild detergent, small brush or roller, masking tape (if planning, for example, a chequer board effect), and white spirit or brush cleaner.
1. Clean the tiles with a drop of detergent in warm water. As with all projects, paint won’t stick properly to dirty surfaces. For best results, also rub over with medium grade sandpaper, so paint can get a better grip. Rinse off, allow to dry, and give a final wipe-over with white spirit. Allow to dry overnight.
2. Following directions on the can, prime if necessary. Allow to dry, overnight if possible.
3. Carefully apply a specialist tile paint. Follow the directions on the can. Use a good quality brush or a mini-roller. If there is a marked change of colour, or you are covering up patterned tiles, you may need a second coat, but let the first one dry overnight.
4. If creating a two-colour effect (a chequer board for example) first mask edges of tile you are painting, using low-tack masking tape. Remove this before paint has full dried (which takes about eight hours). When one coat is completely dry, use masking tape in the same way for the second colour.
5. When paint is fully dry, smarten up the grout lines with a “grout pen” (International, £3.99). This is very easy to use, and will freshen up grout that has become discoloured anywhere around the home.
You can use stencils on old or painted tiles for a more adventurous effect, so long as tiles will not get too much hard wear. Choose small motifs that will fit into tile squares, or cover a larger area with a single stencil. Try The Stencil Library (stencil-library.com).Their director Helen Morris has good stencilling hints on her blog, designinspiration.typepad.com
Water-based paints are best for stencilling. If possible use exterior paints (for better wear). Tester pots give you a good range of colours fairly cheaply. When dry you can protect the whole area with a varnish.
The paint in the pictures is International One Coat Tile Paint, which comes in 15 shades and costs from £17.99 for a 750ml tin (covers up to 6sq m.). For a more robust finish, use International High Performance Tile Paint, available in six colours (750ml, from £17.99) over International Tile Primer (£10.69 for 750ml). For more information, call the International technical support line, 0844 7709444; international-paints.co.uk.
Ray Munn (861-863 Fulham Road, SW6; 020 7736 9876; raymunn.co.uk) sells a primer for tiles, Formica, metal and glass which prepares these surfaces for painting (I.can primer, £14.29 for one litre).