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Painting kitchen tile and grout

Tastie Cereale
November 13, 2018
last modified: November 13, 2018

Hi all,

I've looked through topics here and see others have asked same question. Not seeing any examples from people that have gone through with painting kitchen tiles.

I bought my house last year. The kitchen is very dated. Wood cabinets don't kill me, but the beige tile with brown grout that make up the countertop, backsplash and lower half of the walls is too much.

I don't have the money for major renovations right now. The one thing I am going to do is replace the countertop because it's cracking.

I've been researching options on the cabinets and wall tile, and at this point I'm willing to try my hand at painting the cabinets, but not sure about the tile. Demolition and replacement of the tile is beyond my ability, and I don't have the funds to pay a professional right now but I would like to try painting them to improve look of kitchen for at least a few years since I have little to lose from trying, as evidenced by the pics.

I have read several accounts of people who have purportedly successfully painted kitchen tile, however, I'm somewhat limited by certain health issues in that I can't use oil based or other products with strong odors.

Also, many of the tile painting demos I've read say to sand the tiles. Well I just tried that with a rough grade paper on my orbital sander- No change!? How's that possible? Plus, being an old, cheap tile, the chances that it contains lead are pretty high and I really don't need to be inhaling lead dust, nor do my dogs or cat.

So, uh, in light of the many issues outlined above- suggestions on the tile? My dad is a contractor and he suggested temporary fix of just placing drywall over the tiles. If he were nearby, I'd say go for it, but he's not and I'm not a contractor, so that won't work.

Let the ideas flow!

P.S. any idea why I can't add more than one picture??

Comments (148)

  • mkritt
    That is frustrating, especially when you're excited and ready to put them on.
    Here's hoping they come today!
  • Tastie Cereale

    OK, here is my prototype! I need to do a bit of touch up, adjust hinges so doors close better, though one door is and was warped and won't close, and i need to remove the tape and paint ceiling. But this is pretty much what my kitchen will probably look like. A bit too white, but a world better than the hideous tan tile, brown grout and brass hardware.

  • Tastie Cereale

    Now I have to figure out what to do with vent hood.

  • Mona

    I think it looks great!! The updated hardware looks really sharp. Nice job. It's not too white. Once you get all of your kitchen stuff back in there you'll be happy. I hope you took before pics from all angles so you can post before/after pics when it's all done! I can't wait to see it all together.

  • mkritt
    Wow, looks great!! I agree, not too white at all :) Can't wait to see more!

    Will the vent hood come off? I would think you could use a metal spray paint to paint it.
  • reupser
    Rustoleum makes a line of speciality finish paints including a hammered finish I’ve used and like a lot. I’m not sure if they will take range hood heat but you might check them out. You could also get your hood powder coated but I suspect that would cost more than buying a new hood.
  • pennydesign

    That looks great, Taystie!! (LOVE your name)

    Do you think the stove could go where the fridge used to be (by the window? And the fridge where the stove is now? Of course, you would have to have the gas line moved, but maybe it was there originally...

    If not, get a little cart for next to your stove for a landing area and to fill that space up.

    You might want to think about Ikea butcher block counters. Cheap, diy-able and holds up well (check Ikea hackers for photos) Also, I believe Lumber Liqudators has similar.

    I would spray paint your hood white...it blends in well now and just needs to be freshened up, imo.

    Cute cute cute!!

    If it was my kitchen, I would get myself off to the Goodwill and get some accessories (or use what you have) and buy a can of red spray paint. Very cute and retro...

  • nosoccermom

    Honestly, I'd spring for a new hood. I've seen too many hoods that were spray painted and started peeling after a while. Speaking of which:


    (she used chalked paint, so apparently not such a great idea.)

  • Tastie Cereale

    I was also thinking of metallic spray paint but will first look into cost to replace hood. Ît looks like it's been painted before, so I suppose it could work., but @nosoccermom- it IS peeling, and it does not look pretty! However, it appears this kitchen has not been updated for decades, so perhaps the peeling didn't start for several years. I also bought can of Rustoleum metallic paint and can of metal etching primer to paint hinges before I found hinges on Amazon, so at least I have the materials to try it.

  • mkritt
    You've done such a good job and with such great success that I would give painting the hood a try.

    Red accessories would look pretty in there :)

    *I did not use chalk paint on my bathroom floor. It's been over a year with daily use. This was also the second time I painted it, not because there was a problem, but because it was so successful that I wanted to go bolder. There's never been a peeling problem. I also pull a basket full of weights out from under a stool in there daily with nary a scratch.
    Tastie Cereale thanked mkritt
  • Laura Hill
  • lindastein


  • Jess Pearson

    Tastie, you can buy just the metal replacement cover for less than $100. Or, you could build your own... You can do it!! https://www.hometalk.com/13883956/how-i-built-a-range-hood-cover

  • apple_pie_order

    Beautiful job. When you are ready to show your finished work, please take some photos in broad daylight with all the lights on.

  • Tastie Cereale

    that's broad daylight. The lights aren't on but they make no noticeable difference during the early part of the day.

  • Mona

    Looks great!!! Did you paint the floor, too? It looks like a completely different color.

  • Tastie Cereale

    No, that's just my crappy camera and the difference in the light. The before pic is from the home sale ad and was likely taken in late summer when there is much more light in my kitchen and coming from a different angle. I will be replacing the the floor with something lighter, as well as the ugly beige vinyl baseboard material.

    I have to say, I'm quite proud of my results so far. The contractor I've hired for other stuff that is beyond my capacity seemed genuinely impressed when I sent him a picture. He is coming by this weekend and I'm interested in hearing his thoughts once he sees it in person.

  • reupser
    Rustoleum also makes a hammered finish paint and I think they make a nickel color. It comes in as spray or brush application. The brush on goes on really thick and the brush marks flow away while drying. If you still think the kitchen is too white a nickel hood would break it up. A $15 gamble?
  • apple_pie_order

    Good photos. What is the small white post next to the stove? and what was the soffit-type thing over the cabinets?

  • Tastie Cereale

    That white box is an oddity- someone custom built it to house the gas line connection. It's a drag because it makes it so I can't move the stove over enough to fit a narrow but commercially available kitchen island between stove and wall. But the plus side is that it still looks better than the gas fixture and makes it much less likely for someone to walk into it. I looked at back of stove and it doesn't have any space to allow for the connector to fit behind it.

    The light box thing over the cabinets appears to have just been some relic of the 70's. It served no purpose other than to look lovely. The main row of cabinets had the same setup, but with an exterior floodlight enclosed behind it, creating a 60's or 70's bar ambiance when turned on. The whole thing was nailed together with no way to change the bulb. Impractical and a waste of space. At least now things can be put up there if needed.

  • Tastie Cereale

    @reupser- I agree that a metal would break up the white, which is why I want to try it. The one thing about that, though, is I think all the white may look good with SS appliances, and a metal hood may look weird with SS stove unless they are a near perfect match.

    I tried out the Rustoleum nickel color and a few others at Home Depot. To me they all came out very glittery and like a car finish. None looked like real metal. Perhaps I was looking at the wrong Rustoleum line, but they were the only metallic spray paints carried in store. For something like a metal hood I would prefer spray paint over brush on to ensure even coverage in the tight corners, etc.

    Does anyone here have personal experience with any of the metallic spray paints that they could recommend? Ones that look like "real" metal?

  • reupser
    I’ve tried many of the Rustoleum ‘s and the most metal like are the brushed hammered finishes. Even when they are the same color the brushed and sprayed end up looking very different. The brush on is quite thick and gives a much deeper appearance. Brush marks aren’t a problem because you leave it thick enough that they fill in. I will say it takes some practice because it doesn’t perform like any other paint I’ve used. In your hood I might spray the inside and brush the outside. Your project is looking great. Thanks for all the progress post!
    Tastie Cereale thanked reupser
  • gigirambles

    I'm so glad I stumbled onto this thread! I hate the tiles in my kitchen...now I'm imagining the look on my husband's face if I were to tell him that we are painting them...

  • mkritt
    Looks amazing Tastie, really brightens up that space!! I love the side by side comparison.
    Have you started the other side yet?? No rush haha, just ready to see more. Before and afters are my favorite :))
    Tastie Cereale thanked mkritt
  • Tastie Cereale

    it's supposed to rain tomorrow so I'll be staying in and starting on the rest. First need to sand ceiling and wall where the box was because it was never painted. Now I have a better understanding of what and how to do things, so I'm going to try and prime all surfaces before moving on to paint. I have many cabinets, limited space, and potentially wet outdoor conditions, so I can only paint so many doors at a time. I'm messy so I don't want to risk getting paint on the original hardwood floors in rest of house, leaving only kitchen to paint and dry the doors. Might be a bit of a slow process.

  • mkritt
    Hi Tastie! How is your project coming along??
  • Tastie Cereale

    Hi. I found out last month that there was going to be a big utility construction project in my neighborhood, and because I work from home and have a medical condition that makes me extremely sensitive to noise and vibrations, it was clear I would not be able to stay here during the project, so I decided to sell my house. I have no interest in being a landlord and I figured it would be better to sell now before the market stalls out, so I've been dealing with packing, finding a rental, etc.

    That said, I have done more work, and it's looking good. My friend is here to help me pack up and move, and we plan to finish the cabinets and walls next week. I may put in a new vinyl tile floor, too. I'm going to remove the existing plastic baseboard and either sand and paint or replace it.

    The few other upgrades suggested for selling I'm leaving to pros -i.e. a new counter top,exterior paint, etc. I am sad that I didn't do this sooner so I could enjoy it, but working on the kitchen myself has made me feel a bit better - I now feel I have more choices in buying because I don't necessarily need to have $$$ to improve the livability of a structurally sound but ugly home. Plus I really enjoy doing the work.

    I'll post pics when we're done, which should be next week.

    And btw- I ended up trying the Valspar paint, and I so wish I'd used that from the start! It is SO easy to use and looks great! I am kind of stuck finishing the tiles with the Behr premium, but next time I have a paint project like this, I will be using the Valspar premium. Seriously took one coat over the primed cabinet doors.

  • mkritt

    That's too bad that you are having to sell but definitely understandable. You've done such a good job on your kitchen that you will be able to look at any prospective new house with a different eye knowing "I can fix that." :)

    Sounds like you have a good plan for finishing your kitchen to sell; I'm looking forward to seeing the pics.

    *I'm glad you tried the Valspar paint. I painted all the trim at a house my son is redoing, and thought again, while doing so, how much I like that paint too.

  • tartanmeup

    Good to see this thread pop up as I was thinking of your painted backsplash while reading a bathroom with unfortunate tiles thread. I'll be linking back to it. Sorry to hear you're having to move but looking forward to seeing pictures of all you've done so far. Good luck with your next place. I hope you find the quiet you need to work in peace.

    Tastie Cereale thanked tartanmeup
  • hbeing

    Blondelle's wall tile suggestions great. Take a sledge to the counter tile. It needs to go. Replace w/something. Anything. ;)

  • Tastie Cereale

    Getting Close. Countertop to be installed tomorrow.

  • thinkdesignlive
    What counter top did you select?
  • mkritt
    Wow, tastie!! Your hard work has paid off, your cabinets look amazing!
    I can't wait to see the countertops :))

    It's so fun to see a project like this progress, thank you for sharing!
    Tastie Cereale thanked mkritt
  • Tastie Cereale

    Hi all, countertop installed couple days ago. Left to dry a few days as the nonstop rain and cold is slowing everything. There is significant gap due to difference in thickness, and installer cracked a few tiles in back splash. I hope he plans to fix it. I've left that to my real estate agents to deal with. They are the one that chose the off white color and installer. I'm not keen on the color. They also chose the wall color, a blah "greige" that I find depressing. My gray was too blue for them ( me, too, actually). I have also decided to change out the cabinet pulls. The bars I chose are too conspicuous for a kitchen that is now playing the part of blank slate to inspire imagination of potential buyers. :P

    I'm about done with my part. Did my last coat on remaining doors today and got the rest of the hinges and new round cabinet knobs delivered today.

    I'm quite happy with my handiwork. The tile is great and the doors are also quite nice for a novice painter. My contractor guy said he is very impressed with my attention to detail because I actually took the time to sand out paint drips and imperfections, and i filled in larger holes and cracks. I feel much more capable and confident in my diy skills and ability to make cosmetic improvements, which may pay off when looking for a new house.

    This is how I left it tonight:

  • Tastie Cereale

    For those wondering if you can successfully paint tile- yes, you probably can with the right paint and reasonable care. This pic ain't great thanks to the unfinished look, but it shows how tan tiles with brown grout can be transformed into shiny white tile with white grout with good primer and decent quality latex paint ( low VOC, even!)

  • Tastie Cereale

    @ thinkdesignlive - I got a quartz countertop. I don't know brand or the name of the color. I left that up to the real estate agent. I just work here. :P

  • tartanmeup

    It's looking great, Tastie! The greige walls look good. It'll be a perfect blank slate for potential buyers. :) You've reason to be proud. Massive effort and great attention to detail. Good luck with everything.

    Tastie Cereale thanked tartanmeup
  • mkritt

    It looks amazing Tastie! You are a testament to how with a little (*a lot) of elbow grease and the wherewithal to give it a try, you can turn around and make beautiful a once outdated space.

    I hope others who face this same dilemma get the courage to give it a go...paint those tiles. It does work, it does last, and it can change a space that was less then liked to one that is loved.

    I'm really glad you posted this and I wish you the best of luck with your new home. :))

    Tastie Cereale thanked mkritt
  • mkritt
    What goes around... :)

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