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Paint and Stencil Tile Tutorial

Raise your hand if you love boring brown tile!  OK I will admit that I raised my hand several years ago and chose to install the brown tile in our new home.  What was a thinking?  I will tell you exactly what I was thinking… “It seems safe.” “Brown neutral tile never goes out of style…right?” “Everyone else is doing it!”   Well now I am ready to stand on my own two feet and be BOLD.  Are you?

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Step 1: Prep Tile

Prepping anything always seems to be the most boring part of any project, but it is SOOOOO important. When done properly it will ensure the paint will adhere properly and you won’t have problems with it peeling down the road .

First, sand all of the tile using 120 grit sandpaper and a palm sander. This will rough up the surface of the tile and give the primer something to stick to.

Sanding Tile

Then thoroughly clean the tile. SOS steel wool soap pads worked great for cleaning the dirt out of all the crevices in my tile. Scrub in a circular motion.

Cleaning Tile

Finally, tape off everything you don’t want painted. Then roll on the Sherwin Williams Extreme Bond Primer. I used foam brushes to get the primer in the grout lines.

Primer Coat


After the primer is dry, I rolled on 2 coats of the base paint…Sherwin Williams A-100 Exterior Acrylic- Iron Ore. I used an exterior paint versus interior to give it an extra layer of durability. Tip: Using a roller is tons faster than a brush. I took me less than 30 minutes for each coat. Plus, it doesn’t look streaky.

Base Coat

step 3: Stenciling

1.Make sure the base coat is completely dry because you are going to spend a lot of time crawling all over it:)

2. Tape down the stencil using painters tape. Roll on the stencil coat using Sherwin Williams A-100 Exterior Acrylic- Pure White. Tip: The trick to getting clean stencil lines is to have very little paint on the roller. A lot less than you think you will need. Trust me…I learned this lesson through trial and error. Thankfully, you can always go back and do touch ups:)

3. I also wiped the back of the stencil using a rag before placing it on the next tile. Just in case there was any paint left over from the previous application.

4. The stenciling process is definitely the most time consuming part of the project. It took me several hours to complete. Tip: If you can buy two stencils instead of one…it will make your life a lot easier. Since, I only had one stencil, I had to cut the stencil down to get it to work along the edges where the tile met the wall. It would have been faster to have two stencils.

Step 4: Glazing(Optional)

One of the things I love about actual cement tile is the aged look…like it has been sitting around in some ancient Roman Cathedral for decades. Well I wanted to try to “age” my tile by adding a glazed over the top. This is an optional step, but I LOVE the way it turned out.

I used Minwax Dark Walnut Stain for the glaze. It is best to glaze one tile at a time, so the stain doesn’t sit too long.

Using a foam brush, apply a light layer of stain to the entire tile. Immediately wipe off using an old rag. It may seem like a long process, but it actually goes on really quick.

step 5: Finish

Once again, wait for the glaze to dry before applying the finish. I used Polycrylic Protective Finish for the final coats because it has low fumes and a fast dry time. I rolled on the Polycrylic in sections then quickly used a foam brush to smooth out any bubbles. I did three coats of finish allowing each coat to dry before applying the next.

Applying Finish

The floor is done! Overall this wasn’t a hard project and I would definitely do it again. If you dare to take the plunge I would love to see the end results. Now I need to get going…I still have a bunch of other projects to complete before the One Room Challenge comes to an end.

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    1. Tina-Marie says:

      I just came across your tutorial and the results are amazing! I had picked out a very similar tile to redo my current kitchen floor (which is identical to the one you transformed) and you’ve inspired me to give it a go! I ordered the stencils and hopefully will tackle this over the next few weekends. Thank you for taking the bold plunge and sharing your stunning results!

      1. You can do it! Let me know if you have any questions and I would love to see a picture when you’re done!

  1. The best stenciled floor I have seen in a long time! Great job!

  2. Loralee,
    This looks really good – well done!! We are totally starting to rethink quite a few things for our project, as well! We finally started placing pavers for our patio last night at 9 pm and I kept saying, I think we should have gone with 12″ instead of 24″ square pavers. Hubby kept saying, they’re here now! Needless to say, we are going with what we’ve got! Looking forward to the reveal next week!
    P.S. Pinning this!

    1. The glazing really makes it look good!

  3. I absolutely love this floor! Fabulous choice, and I can’t wait to see the whole shebang — next week! 🙂

    1. Thanks so much! It is going to be a busy week but it is exciting to see it all come together!

  4. What size tile do you have and what size stencil did you purchase?

  5. Addie Fernandez Turner says:

    Let’s begin with the obvious. I hate my bathroom tiles. They are 16×16 inches. The bathroom is 3 feet wide… The tiles are uneven, as are the grout lines. Oh, and did I say the tiles are porous? They are. Was so excited to here about painting tiles! Decided I could paint my tiles and create faux grout lines giving my bathroom the look of smaller tiles. Everything was going great until I lost my balance and stepped smack dab in the middle of the freshly painted tile. I was on the second coat. Ripped up the first coat of paint too. Gonna let it dry really good tonight, and then sand those spots in the morning. Hopefully I can get a good enough finish. I’m thinking it’s gonna take at least 4 coats of paint. The tiles are sucking it up! I refuse to be a Pinterest fail!

    1. Oh no!!! How did it go? Were you able to get your bathroom floor stenciled?

  6. This looks so good! How is it holding up? Do you know the durability of this paint versus the Rust-Oleum floor paint? I’m about to tackle our guest bath AND entry way but can’t decide which paint option is the best.

  7. How has this held up! I love the looks of it!

  8. Thank you for helpful tip with stain. I love it! I was going to look for cream of off white paint but i like the aged look stain gave it.

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