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How to Paint Shower Tiles White

One of the things I kept in mind while house hunting was to not get a house that was “nice and updated” by all standards, except in the way I wanted. For example, I’d feel terrible tearing out expensive granite and  fixtures only to spend the time and money replacing it with something I liked but that was worth less!

Fantastic tutorial for how to use tile painting kits to refinish your shower tiles! Looks so fresh + modern!

This house was really a great choice for starting with the basics and transforming it to our style, without the guilt! That is except for the guest bathroom. It was evident someone put some hard work into it. The tiling in the shower was extensive and must have been back breaking work.

Fantastic tutorial for how to use tile painting kits to refinish your shower tiles! Looks so fresh + modern!

Bathroom Then

Now, truthfully, the bathroom really wasn’t horrendous. It just didn’t fulfill my “white bathroom vision.”  At some point I weighed my options of what I could do to have a white or whitish bathroom.

< One > I could tear out the tile.. But that would damage a lot of dry wall and be a terrible mess. Then I’d have to pay for new tile quickly so we could use the bathroom again.

< Two > I could replace just the accent strip of tile and leave the brown ones. Then I’d have to hokey pokey around with choosing sizes and the right color.

< Or Three > I could find some way in the world to paint over the whole thing white.

Between Mr. G, our bank account, and I, option three sounded the best. So I did some research and found a product called Rust-Oleum Tub And Tile Refinishing 2-Part Kit. After reading the reviews carefully and checking the blog world, I thought $64 (2 kits) sounded like a legitimate way to makeover our bathroom shower.

Unfortunately, this product apparently can’t be found in store anywhere (I called at least 5 places in my area), so I had to order through Amazon (not prime) and wait a week for it to ship to me. Talk about impatient! I wanted to start the moment I learned it was possible ;). So if you’re like me and need to start on some part of “that next awesome project,” this one has some “great” prep work to be done. So prepare to “have fun.” (The below steps are what they prescribe on the box directions and how they worked best for me.)

Tub + Tile Cleaning Supplies

First, as you may have noticed in the second picture, we took off the glass shower doors, and no, they’re not going back up. I know glass is classy and spendy, but I’d rather wash a shower curtain then clean glass any day. If you are removing something similar you will come across a mighty amount of glue left on the wall. With your x-acto/utility Knife and flat head screwdriver (and maybe a small hammer) you’ll need to scrape or lightly chisel off, any and all glue remains. You’ll also need to go around the tub and remove all the caulking between the bathtub and tiles. This takes some time and patience. Have your vacuum nearby to suck up the dust and glue. I tried using sand paper to get the glue out of the grout cracks, but the x-acto knife did a much better job. (Don’t think the intense cleaning later will get the glue and caulk out either, it’s all in the x-acto knife.) Then sand down the tiles and grout with ~200 then 400 grit paper to remove lingering debris. You can tell that the previous tile installers had smeared the grout poorly and got it on the tiles. I left it there, deciding to just paint over it and get a rough look on some of the shower. This is also a good time to fix any grout that has crumbled away.

The glue and caulk removing phase took a long afternoon to accomplish. So you might want to set a day aside for it in itself.

Once you’re done cleaning out the glue and caulk, it’s time to open the window and set up your fan. I picked this one up at target from under $20.  Also, it may be time to don one of these…


This is a 3M Professional Multi-Purpose Respirator that you will DEFINITELY need for the painting process (even though the box doesn’t say to get one, please please, for your brain cells and nervous system, do.) While I was cleaning with multiple harsh chemicals, I thought it a good idea to wear it then too. Sure I kinda look like this guy, but at least it’s in pink. ;)

The cleaning steps are to insure that the paint will adhere well when applied. So though these aren’t the favorite household cleaners these days, I don’t think you should skimp or exchange any of them. Don your rubber gloves & mask, open your new abrasive scrubber, lock the kids and pets out, turn on the fan, and get to work.

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.)

Now for the painting. Know in advance that your brushes are toast after the process and buy accordingly. I went with the cheapest brushes at Lowes and a high density foam roller (buy extras if you plan on a third coat.) This is when you need the best air flow going, but if you can,  don’t let it in the rest of the house. 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 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 that 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) 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.


Fantastic tutorial for how to use tile painting kits to refinish your shower tiles! Looks so fresh + modern!

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 counter that is in the works! (Check back next Wednesday to see how we did it and what we learned!) It was hard to get a distinctive before and after picture of the bathtub with all the surrounding white, but I’m grateful for that because it disguises any brush blemishes I may have.

Here is the new tile against my accent wall.

Painted Bathroom Tiles | Petite Modern Life

I can’t wait to get new tile floors and finish the counter and cabinet! I’m in love with the process and results thus far, I hope you enjoy the painted shower tiles too. If you have any questions shoot them my way!


Fantastic tutorial for how to use tile painting kits to refinish your shower tiles! Looks so fresh + modern!

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  • Reply Leigh Anne

    This looks fantastic! I can’t wait to see the rest!

    August 6, 2014 at 7:39 am
  • Reply beck campbell

    Totally awesome…LOVE!!! I redid my bathroom several years ago and fortunately I was smart enough when I finished out the house to use white tile…but this could be a life saver. BTW, your cabinets would be PERFECT for the gel stain treatment if you plan on changing them. I used it in my half bath and kid’s bath and LOVE!!!

    I am right there with you on the shower doors…I took mine down when I redid my bathroom and have NEVER regretted it!!!

    August 6, 2014 at 10:14 am
    • Reply Petite Modern Life

      Thanks for sharing! I’m looking into all my options for those cabinets and gel stain is one! I just checked it out on your blog :) Thanks for stopping by!

      August 6, 2014 at 11:46 am
  • Reply josh

    Nice work!

    August 6, 2014 at 11:50 am
  • Reply Kim

    That is awesome! I have a pepto- colored bathtub and that would save so much!

    August 6, 2014 at 3:59 pm
  • Reply Erica

    this looks SO GOOD. I’m also glad you didn’t lose too many brain cells in the process ;) can’t wait for more updates!

    August 6, 2014 at 4:43 pm
    • Reply Petite Modern Life

      “too many,” now I have an extra excuse in my back pocket for when I forget where I put things haha ;)

      August 6, 2014 at 9:53 pm
  • Reply Sarah @ Little Red Brick House

    Oh my gosh, Karisa! This looks fantastic. From the FB picture I thought you had installed all new tile. It looks soooo good! You guys are doing a beautiful job on your home and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

    P.S. My hubby and I literally LOL’d at the Bane reference. ;)

    August 6, 2014 at 8:15 pm
    • Reply Petite Modern Life

      hahaha, I was LOL’n it up while I was wearing it ;) You’re so sweet, thank you for the encouragement!

      August 6, 2014 at 9:52 pm
  • Reply Elke Clark

    We redid our outdated bathroom in white tiles, biggest mistake ever. Impossible to keep clean, everything shows up. Hope you like yours, wish I’d have done ours in a more neutral color.

    August 7, 2014 at 3:43 pm
    • Reply Petite Modern Life

      That was definitely a thought I had Elke! We’ll see how it goes! I’m hoping the texture of paint is easier to wash than standard grout and tile, but only time will tell. I’ll update in the future how it’s going. But good point!

      August 8, 2014 at 6:11 am
  • Reply Bre @ Average But Inspired

    LOVE!!! I need to do my kids’ harvest gold bathroom. So glad you had an awesome experience with this product. And thanks for the tip on the respirator. :-)

    August 8, 2014 at 12:05 pm
    • Reply Petite Modern Life

      I’m so glad this post helped and I can’t wait to see your bathroom before & after!

      August 8, 2014 at 12:34 pm
  • Reply Simple Concrete Countertops Tutorial | Petite Modern Life

    […] we’ve been busy. If you missed last weeks post on our painted shower tiles, you can read that here! Up next for your viewing and learning pleasure are our new concrete […]

    August 13, 2014 at 8:59 pm
  • Reply Inspiration for the Weekend - Petite Modern Life

    […] The paper cone wreath image is in this month’s issue of Martha Stewart. I love the creamy yellow against that dark color– which, if you’ve been with me for a while, is the accent color I’ve used in much of my house. See here & here. […]

    December 6, 2014 at 6:00 pm
  • Reply The Noncommittal Chalkboard Wall - Petite Modern Life

    […] is one of my favorite colors for inside a house, like you’ll see in my bedroom, entry, and bathroom! I wanted to use chalkboard paint where where I originally had the DIY Industrial Tapestry […]

    December 17, 2014 at 12:34 pm
  • Reply Anna @Annabode

    This is insane! We’re looking to buy a midcentury home this spring and I’ve been dreading having to do the bathrooms, but knowing this product is out there is a game-changer. Thank you so much for sharing the tutorial! Definitely pinning for later!

    January 17, 2015 at 12:46 pm
    • Reply Petite Modern Life

      It’s really an amazing product. I was able to do the whole thing myself (which usually isn’t so with house projects.) I love that bathroom now!

      January 17, 2015 at 2:48 pm
  • Reply Aimee, The Crazy Craft Lady

    This. Looks. Ah-Ma-Zing! I had to laugh about ordering off Amazon… My heart sinks a bit whenever I find something I want, but it doesn’t come with Prime shipping. They have gotten me so spoiled!

    March 10, 2015 at 12:31 pm
  • Reply Yasmina @ Mina and Her Blog

    Oh wow this looks so good! We are thinking to paint our tiles too! Great tip of wearing mask haha love the picture!

    March 11, 2015 at 1:03 am
    • Reply Petite Modern Life

      Thanks Mina! It’s a pretty awesome simple transformation (though stinky!)

      March 11, 2015 at 11:06 am
  • Reply DIY April

    I’ve been wondering about this. The best pic is the one of you though.

    April 17, 2015 at 5:06 pm
  • Reply 7 Steps to a Modern Bathroom - Petite Modern Life

    […] You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on new tiles. You can use a Tub And Tile Refinishing Kit over your existing tiles for a dramatically different + refreshed look for $25! You can see how I did ours here. […]

    July 13, 2015 at 6:00 am
  • Reply Trude

    It looks amazing, thanks for sharing all the steps! And I am so with you on shower curtains v. glass. Where I’m renting now has glass and I HATE having to clean it and see the water marks every day (so I wind up spraying a 20% vinegar solution once a week and calling it good). Love the light you chose too!

    August 13, 2015 at 11:08 am
    • Reply Petite Modern Life

      I hear you! Whereas some glass is just gorgeous on a fancy remodeled bath, my DIY guest bath did not need that type of maintenance. Way to find a renter solution! And thank you sweetly for your compliments :))

      August 13, 2015 at 1:22 pm
  • Reply janet

    Now that it’s been about a year, how is it all holding up? You did the interior of the tub, too, right?? My bath isn’t soooo bad, but it’s really old and could use a new coat. re: things showing up against white, I use bleach/water mix in a spray bottle and give it a shot every now and then – works well for me – on the white shower curtain too. washing in the machine with bleach doesn’t do as well. of course, i try not to do it too often.

    November 1, 2015 at 6:04 am
    • Reply Petite Modern Life

      Hello Janet! I wish I could honestly answer on how it is all holding up, but we actually sold the house in July and never used the guest shower while we lived there! A bit of a failed experiment right? I know there are others who have used the kit and you could google it or look up the reviews on Amazon :) I hope that helps somewhat!

      November 1, 2015 at 7:13 pm
  • Reply Gaby

    Hello, did you use painters tape at all for the edges? If so, from your experience should one remove the tape asap? If the paint dries super fast and gets hard, I’m afraid it would be difficult afterwards to remove any tape that had contact with the paint. Any advice on how to paint around the edges would be super helpful ?

    June 6, 2016 at 9:03 pm
    • Reply Petite Modern Life

      Hi Gaby! Yes, I would remove the painters tape early after application. Thinking back, I didn’t use tape around the shower because my walls were white and we were replacing the floors with tile. I was careful near my black wall, but just touched up the edges with leftover black paint when all the tile painting was done.

      June 7, 2016 at 8:01 pm
  • Reply Lisa

    I’m interested in doing this with my 1981 tiled baths and kitchen. Can you tell me how it’s holding up so far?


    June 25, 2016 at 7:22 pm
  • Reply Kathleen

    You said you removed the grout but never talked about going back and regrouting. When in the process did you do this?

    October 2, 2016 at 8:47 am
    • Reply Petite Modern Life

      Hi Kathleen! Good question. What I meant was that I cleaned up the grout that had gotten on the tiles (ours were super messy!) I left the grout in between the tiles and just painted over them. Is that what you meant?

      October 3, 2016 at 10:29 am

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