Yes, Virginia…you really can paint a tile countertop.

15 Aug

It’s true. I didn’t believe it at first, but I sure do now. I have to admit that painting the countertop tile in the never-ending main bathroom project was by-far the most satisfying (though sometimes time-consuming) project I have ever done.

For one, I could do it without any help. I didn’t need Brett to trim in at the ceiling or to install a sink (that came after, of course) or to roll a wall higher than my 5’4” height could reach. I did every lick of it from buying the supplies to yelling at the children to stay out of the bathroom all by my little self.

I have to give credit to my friend Jennifer for the inspiration. When I was complaining about the very depressing color, (Tan? Mustard? Sand? Dirt?) she said, why don’t you just paint it? A revelation. And it isn’t hard at all. Just time consuming and requiring a lot lot lot of patience. Here are the steps:

1.  Vacuum the room completely, especially if you have pets. I didn’t do this and ended up having to pull out a few dog hairs that had floated on during the process. (We did not remove the sink to do this project, though some people recommend it. I just cut in very carefully around it and made sure I re-caulked it after.)

2.  Prime the cleaned tiles with Glidden Gripper, a primer and sealer ($10). My advice on doing this is to do it quickly. Don’t go over an area that had dried or your brush bristles will pull it up again.

3.  Wait. Let the primer dry completely. I gave it an hour.

4.  Paint the tiles with a semi-gloss color. We chose Burnished Clay by Behr. Brush the paint in the same direction so that you don’t end up with a lot of brush marks going in a million directions. It took just one of the sample size container ($2.49) to cover the countertop with two coats.

5.  Let it dry completely again. I gave it about two hours total, with an hour between coats.

6.  Apply 3-4 coats of Polycrylic, letting it dry for 2-3 hours between each coat. The woman at Home Depot recommended Minwax ($6.49 for a half-pint, which gave us 4+ coats).

7.  Wait a week.

8.  Wait another week.

9.  Wait some more.

10.  Yell at the kids to not use the sinks or get the countertops wet.

11.  When they do leave a cup on there and the paint and finish bubble up, peel it back, sand it, prime and start that area again. It can be fixed I promise.

12.  Wait some more and threaten them with certain death if they touch the countertop.

13.  Go on a not-so-great family vacation and leave the bathroom closed for a week.

14.  Wait until it’s been at least 30 days to put your lovely accessories and cups and toothbrush holders on it.

15.  Even then, don’t forget it’s painted and try to not let water sit on it too much.

16.  Enjoy the lovely countertop that you transformed for about $20!

Remember this?

It has been transformed into this…

We will let you know how it holds up. Anyone else ever have any experience with painting countertops?


24 Responses to “Yes, Virginia…you really can paint a tile countertop.”

  1. Leslie April 21, 2013 at 7:09 am #

    It has been almost a year since I posted that I was beginning to paint my kitchen tile countertop. I could not be happier with the results!
    (Revamping an ugly house takes more time than expected! )
    The results can be seen by viewing Breaking Away Cottage on I also have before and after pics on my Pinterest page-Leslie Wagner-Breaking Away Cottage. I am thrilled with the results (but possibly anything would have looked better than what was there to begin with!) I followed Brandy’s directions AND used the Glidden Gripper suggested by a lovely handyman.
    It was Absolutely not in our budget to replace countertops. If you find yourself in the same position I highly recommend giving this a try.
    It can’t look much worse than when you started out!

  2. Barry October 25, 2012 at 1:19 pm #

    I would not recommend using a sample paint for a countertop. Sample paints are really just to see how the color looks on the wall, and just a low grade paint with no additives reason why they are so cheap. What your getting is just a band aid. I would recommended a bonding primer and a product called tile doc. it’s a 2 part epoxy made for painting sinks , bath tubs , and counter tops made of porcelain and ceramic. you also don’t have to worry about getting water on it

  3. Leslie June 28, 2012 at 7:54 am #

    Awesome!!!! I have been reading endless articles and posts about painting tile counter tops and have found nothing but a bunch of naysayers. Thank you for your adventurous and experimental post. I’m going ahead with my project in our kitchen – yes, kitchen! Wish me luck!

    • June 29, 2012 at 1:07 pm #

      Good luck! Please let me know how it works out or send me photos! Thanks!

    • Ida August 24, 2012 at 4:26 pm #

      So Leslie this is Ida from Bullhead City Az. I read that you were attempting to Paint you Kitchen tile counters!! How did it go? I would love to hear from you.

      • Leslie August 29, 2012 at 3:23 pm #

        Hi Ida,

        The counter space I am painting is still in process as it is an out of town place. I can tell you it looks great but hasn’t been used much so I’m not sure how it will hold up. I will try to post again later. Good luck!

    • Lila Huff February 17, 2013 at 5:09 pm #

      Did you paint your kitchen tile counter tops? How did it work out. I am thinking about it.

  4. Leah June 11, 2012 at 12:15 pm #

    Hi there, i just stumbled onto this, thinking about doing this in our bathroom, and i was wondering is is still holding up?

    • Brandy June 13, 2012 at 12:50 pm #

      Hi Leah,

      Apologies for the slow response. YES! It is holding up wonderfully. Especially considering that this is the girls’ bathroom and is not treated gently by four adolescent little imps. I think that the key is letting it cure for a long time. If you have the luxury, I wouldn’t use the counters for a month. If you do, be sure you wipe up any water that gets on it. Also, don’t put any items on it until it’s cured either. I put down a cup and left it there and when I lifted it, paint came off because it wasn’t cured yet. Now, they leave water on it all the time and it’s totally fine. Good luck and please share your project!

  5. Jennifer January 29, 2012 at 6:10 pm #

    I am so happy to have stumbled onto your Blog. Just moved into a new 1960’s home and eager to start remodeling it on a BUDGET. I am dying to know how the paint held up on the tiles. I would LOVE to do this on my kitchen counters.

    • Brandy January 29, 2012 at 7:25 pm #

      Hi Jennifer…
      So far so good with the painted tile. It really needed about a month to cure though. Also, I would recommend self-leveling paint, which we didn’t use but learned about later. It apparently helps make the brush strokes less visible. Always be careful about water and wipe up around the sink and use cutting board. But other than that, I say go for it! We never regretted it. Good luck and keep me posted on how it goes! Thanks for reading the blog.

      • Jennifer January 29, 2012 at 7:34 pm #

        Brandy- thx for emailing me back. My husband is hesitant but I think they could not look any worse than already are. I am also looking into the Rustoleum cabinet kit. I found your blog by doing a search on the product looking for reviews and before/after photos.

  6. Trish August 16, 2011 at 9:04 pm #

    Looks great! I love the play-by-play instructions! Congratulations!

  7. Jerry Gropp (@JerryGroppAIA) August 15, 2011 at 2:47 pm #

    Brandy- Glidden’s “Gripper” is the key to making this a successful project.
    I really like your step-by-step instructions for what could well have turned
    to be something regretted in retrospect. Jerry.

    • Brandy August 15, 2011 at 3:24 pm #

      Thanks, Jerry! It was a really fun project.

  8. Andy Pierce August 15, 2011 at 8:12 am #

    Zero experience… but if I ever need any, I now know who to call! Turned out really well; fantastic work!

    • Brandy August 15, 2011 at 8:14 am #

      Thanks! I really love it. You guys need to come by and see it in person!


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