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We Painted a Ceramic Tile Floor - AND IT WORKED! Step-by-Step Floor Stenciling Tutorial

Posted by Alex Kuzmenko on

We Painted a Ceramic Tile Floor - AND IT WORKED!

Painted Tile Floor - Finished Product
Gripper Coat with Taped Off Edges
Before and After - The brown bathroom pic was from the week we moved in
Before and After - The brown bathroom pic was from the week we moved in


Difficulty: 2/5 Paint Cans - you could totally do this

Project Time: A long weekend or one week a few hours a day (this project can be done in phases)

Cost: ~$200

Supplies Needed:

- Cleanser  or Bleach (~$5)

Sandpaper (optional) ($5)

- 1 Quart PPG Gripper Paint (~$15)

- 1 Quart Chalk Paint (Base Color) (~$20)

- 1 Quart Chalk Paint (Stencil Color) (~$20)

- 1 Quart Water-Based Matte Poly (~$15)

Painters Tape (5-6 rolls) (~$20)

Tile Stencil (~20)

Small Sponge Roller (~$5)

Mini Sponge Roller (~$5)

Small Paint Brush(es) (~$10)

- 37 Gallons of patience (one may substitute prayer)


That one time we painted a tile floor...


Here’s what you need to know. This project turned out AWESOME. We actually tackled this about 18 months ago. We have pretty much tortured that floor in the last year and a half and it still looks brand new. YOU GUYS, THIS ACTUALLY WORKED! One disclaimer is that this works on ceramic tile with a matte-like finish. We have not tested this process on glossy tile. 

If you want to tackle this in your house here’s the deal: it is about as fun as watching paint dry. That’s because the majority of this project is waiting for the paint to dry. You could tackle this in 4 or 5 days in a few hours after work or over a long weekend. We knocked this out Friday-Sunday. The total work time was probably 8-12 hours, but the drying time in-between extends this into a 3-5 day project. You can definitely tackle this project solo. In fact, it may actually be easier as a one-person job depending on how tight of a space you tackle.

Find a tile stencil you love. Amazon has great ones. For this project we used this one. And pick your paint colors carefully. We tested colors on a piece of cardboard before tackling this. Once you get started on this – there is no turning back. So make sure you feel good about what you want before you dive in.  


As with painting any surface, you will want it to be clean. For this particular project we used a bleach/water mix, but you could also TSP. Before wiping it down, we took a heavy grit sandpaper and lightly sanded by hand just in case.


Tape off your baseboards, walls, tub, toilet, vanity etc. Do not forget to tape off the transition from the tile floor to the next room or floor. Think of it like turning your floor into a “tray” for the paint. You will need quite a bit of tape for this project. Our favorite for this project is Scotch Blue Painters Tape - we used ~1.5 inch width.


This step is VERY important. We used PPG Gripper and it worked very well. You can get it at Home Depot (Lowe’s does not sell PPG Paints). Roll on a single coat with your foam roller. Make sure to get into all of the corners and along all of the edges. No need for this coat to be pretty.


Wait for 12-24 hour for the Gripper to dry. Calling this step out because the Gripper needs to fully adhere to the tile surface. 


For this you will need chalk paint. Again, Home Depot sells it by the quart and you can get it tinted. Do not use craft store chalk paint (lesson learned from the second time we painted a tile floor). This color will be the base color of your stencil AND your grout lines. For this project I chose white. For application I used a small FOAM roller. Any other roller can leave fuzzies in the paint. 

REMINDER: Check the floor for any debris (see also: hair, goldfish cracker crumbs, baby dust bunnies) that may have found its way to the floor. Whatever crumbs you may accidentally paint over in this phase will forever be an accent in your new floor.

We needed two coats of white chalk paint and waited 3-4 hours between the first and second coat. For the second coat we actually would pour the paint directly on the floor and then use the roller to cover. Remember those corners and edges!


Sensing a theme yet? Give it another 12-24 hours for the base coat to fully cure. The waiting is important. In “The second time we painted a tile floor” we got over-excited and stenciled too soon and the stencil bled (and we cried inside - outside we said a lot of swear words). 


If this project hasn’t yet tested your patience – here it comes. You will need to tape off every single tile before you get to stenciling. Also make sure you do not tape over edges of wet tile. Which means you will be able to tape off every other tile in every other row – then go back and do the others once the paint dries. Cue music: …I’ll be right here waiting for you”

Once you are taped off, place your tile stencil (We used small pieces of tape on the corners to hold it in place) and then use a very small FOAM mini roller in your second color of chalk paint. We used this mini roller that came with a touch up kit. It worked swimmingly.   


If you can remove the tape as you go, that works best. We removed the tape from each tile as we moved across the floor, and pulled up the tile from the baseboards/vanity/toilet/etc. as we finished small sections. It is best if you can pull up the tape while the paint is still a little wet. 

You can pull up the tape once the paint is dry too. Make sure to use a razor or utility knife along the edges so that your paint doesn’t peel up when you pull the tape. 


Yes, it is super annoying. Just trust us on this one and wait for the stencil paint to dry. 


For this step we used WATER-BASED MATTE polyurethane. Water-based is important because oil-based will turn yellowish when it dries. Matte finish is what makes it look like tile. You guys, this is the EASIEST step of the whole process. Again we used a foam roller and a foam brush to get into the corners. Put on one coat and then a second coat after 4-6 hours. If you are worried about the seal go for a third coat – it won’t hurt a thing. With the tape removed, this allows you to water-tight seal EVERYTHING. On this floor the second coat of poly was super thick. We just poured it on the floor directly then pushed it around and into every corner, up against the seal on the shower, etc. 

WARNING: If your first coat of poly isn’t dry and you pour on the second coat your stencil may bleed. A solid dry on the first coat is important.


YOU SHOULD TOTALLY DO THIS. Or you should totally hire us to do this. This is one of the coolest things we have tackled. Since this floor we have painted tile in 5 other locations (including a few other folks’ houses). A brand new tile floor would have cost $3000-$5000 to install. This was less than $200 total. Most guests think it is brand new tile. 

This is an exercise in patience. You cannot rush this project. If you take your time with each step and stencil carefully you will have a BEAUTIFUL space. Good luck – and send us your pics!

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