How to Paint Shower Tiles White

October 5, 2014

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Last Updated on August 10, 2021

For a budget friendly bathroom refresh, paint shower tiles!


Hey there! My name is Karisa and I blog over at Petite Modern Life.


I’m so excited and honored that Tasha asked me to guest post this week!  Today I’m going to share with you another project that made an astonishing difference in our home’s look! Painting our shower tiles white!  This post contains some affiliate links.  Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

Though the guest bathroom had been updated by the previous owners, I had always dreamed of having a shiny white bathroom. So I thought through my options of how I could change the bathroom's look:

1. Demo and re-tile.

2. Only tear out the accent tiles and replace them with something brighter.

3. Find a way to paint over the tiles.

Option 3 definitely seemed the least messy and costly, but up to that point I hadn’t known of any way to effectively paint tiles! Until I stumbled upon Rust-Oleum Tub And Tile Refinishing 2-Part Kit, White. It had great reviews of durability and ease of application. And for $26 a box, (I ended up buying 3) it was much less expensive than buying new tile.  After calling 4 large and small home improvement and paint stores I found I could only find this online.  So Amazon Prime it was!   Now, on to the tutorial!

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How to Paint Shower Tiles

Materials needed: 
Rust-Oleum Tub And Tile Refinishing 2-Part Kit, White
-Utility knife
-Flathead screwdriver
-400 grit sandpaper
Multipurpose Respirator
-Cleaning gloves +extra
-Scotch brute heavy duty sponge
-Comet with bleach powder
-Small high density foam paint roller and paint brush.  This paint did not come off even wrapped up brushes so I suggest having extra rollers and using cheaper brushes.
-Small tray.

MUST PIN! Learn to paint shower tiles! Transform your shower on a budget! Full tutorial by Petite Modern Life for Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body.
First you need to take off any glue and caulk that is touching the tiles you are going to paint. We decided to remove our whole glass shower door and use a curtain in the future, so there was a lot of glue to peel off the wall. Using an x-acto knife, utility knife, or flathead screwdriver with a hammer, get all the glue and caulk out so the paint will seal well. This part took me a good exhausting few hours, so you might want to do this ahead of time. Others pointed out that this would be a good time to fix any broken tile and grout if you want.

Next you will be following the instructions on the paint can on how to use your cleaning supplies to prep the tile surface. They are tough chemicals, so I put on my respirator and gloves, and turned on the fan before starting this step.

I kept thinking of this guy…

1. Vacuum the tub of dust and hairs. Rinse.

2. Apply bleach, scrub, rinse thoroughly. (…I should've taken a picture as proof, but I totally pulled my garden hose through the window to spray down ALL the tiles, including ceiling. It was the equivalent of a rain forest in the bathroom for about 45 minutes…)

3. Next, spread Comet across the tiles and scrub away. Rinse thoroughly.

4. Finally, spread LimeAway across the tiles and let sit 5 minutes. Scrub. Rinse thoroughly.

5. Let dry for at least 90 minutes before painting. ( I towel dried too.)

This is when you need the best air flow going, but if you can,  don't let it in the rest of the house. If I moved my respirator to wipe my nose while in the bathroom, I could feel my heart rate shoot up. This is really potent (and possibly dangerous) stuff. Consider that well before starting this project. We kept the bathroom door shut with the fan pushing the air towards the open window. It helped to have the rest of the house's windows open (but the bedroom doors closed). It'll stink it up bad for a few days. Some people even said they were glad they did it just before going on vacation. I didn't think it was unbearably bad so long as the bathroom door stayed shut and fans stayed running (for about 3 days). Also, if you don't want to mess up your bath tub, shower, floors, or counters (…I'm a bit of a clutz sometimes always) cover them up well. This stuff doesn't come off without a fight, sandpaper and some light scratches.

Keeping your gloves and mask on, shake the activator and base cans up to mix well and then poor them into your paint tray. When mixed, the paint looks very watery, but goes on like solid glue. The grout is tricky to cover, that's where I used a brush the most. Using your roller, go in one direction consistently feathering your edges. If you allow a paint dribble it will show bad when it dries. This paint dries fast. You can touch up spots easily in subsequent coats. In between the first and second coat wait about 2 hours for it to dry. Wrap your paint and brushes super well with plastic wrap in between coats. The can says to wait a day before the 3rd coat, but to not let your mixed paint sit out for more than 6 hours.  If you're not sure how much paint you'll need, the can shows the ratios to mix if you want to leave some unmixed in the can for a later day.

For all my tile I did 3 coats + 1 touch up session and used almost 2 full kits. Layer three ultimately covered up the previous tile color.

MUST PIN! Learn to paint shower tiles! Transform your shower on a budget! Full tutorial by Petite Modern Life for Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body.

MUST PIN! Learn to paint shower tiles! Transform your shower on a budget! Full tutorial by Petite Modern Life for Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body.

Here's the tile against my accent wall.

Painted Bathroom Tiles | Petite Modern Life

After painting the tiles we realized that the tub was biscuit rather than white, so I bought another kit and used half of it's contents to repaint ~2 coats on the tub. I'm saving the second half of the kit to touch up the tiles behind our new concrete counters see that tutorial here.

MUST PIN! Learn to paint shower tiles! Transform your shower on a budget! Full tutorial by Petite Modern Life for Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body.

MUST PIN! Learn to paint shower tiles! Transform your shower on a budget! Full tutorial by Petite Modern Life for Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body.

If you love this project, be sure to pin it so that you can refer back to it later :)

MUST PIN! Learn to paint shower tiles! Transform your shower on a budget! Full tutorial by Petite Modern Life for Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body.

Next on the list are the floors! We're going with a dark grey rectangle tile. I can.. not..  wait to see this in completion! I hope you're inspired to have at your dated, or “just not right” bathroom too!

If you liked this post, you'll love these other ones on my blog!

Now that your tiles look beautiful, are you ready to paint the walls also? Check out the guide below to pick your perfect wall colors!
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  1. Gaby says:

    Hello, I’m thinking of using this product for a busy bathroom. How has the paint hold up through cleaning and normal use? Do you recommend?

    • Tasha says:

      This is a contributor’s post. If you pop over to Petite Modern Life she will probably be able to help you!

  2. Lisa says:

    It looks amazing! Good for you!!

  3. […] in October I shared my tutorial for How to Paint Shower Tiles White. You can check that out here if you missed it. Today I’m excited to share with you a favorite addition to our recent […]

  4. Giulia Brooks says:

    Hi! Thank you for this tutorial. Heather, of October 2014, asked if you sanded as per the instructions. I wondered if you did, as it wasn’t mentioned in the tutorial. Also, how’s it holding up today? Do you think you could use it on a bathroom floor tiles? Thanks! I’ll let you know if I do it! (We have 1950 mud-set tiles that are HORRIBLE to remove!)

  5. heather says:

    Got my rustoleum and am ready to go, but I noticed you didn’t say anything about actually sanding…did you do that step? The box says to use “wet/dry” sandpaper…did you do that?? Loved your tutorial, super pumped to give this a try!!

  6. Love this transformation. So much brighter and all of the accessories really shine now. Great job, Karisa!

  7. Leslie says:

    You did an excellent job! Haha, your mask is great & I liked Baine, hah. That’s too funny! I hope your having a great Sunday!

    • Thank you Leslie! We’re really happy with the outcome and walking into a refreshingly bright bathroom. And lets be real, I liked the mask and might’ve even made Darth Vader noises at my husband. :P #nevergrowup

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