Painting Bathroom Tile? 6 Things to Know First

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Gone are the days when your only option for refreshing dingy, dated, or plain-Jane bathroom tile was to rip it out and replace it. Today, commercial paints formulated for use on tile make it possible to restore the look of your tile floors, walls, and other bathroom surfaces—or lend them a new one altogether—with little more than a can! Simple as it sounds, painting bathroom tile shouldn’t start without first evaluating key project considerations and constraints. Below, we’ve outlined the six things to know before you even pick out a paint color.

Painting bathroom tile is much cheaper than retiling.

You’ve heard it before: Paint is an economical material. Unsurprisingly, then, it’s the most budget-friendly way to refresh bathroom tile that isn’t cracked, crumbling, or otherwise structurally compromised. Frugal do-it-yourselfers can spend as little as $100 to paint 100 square feet. Meanwhile, depending on the tile material, a DIY retiling can cost anywhere from $100 to $1,500 for a typical bathroom floor measuring 35 to 100 square feet. Retiling a tub surround or walls of a shower stall between 9 and 13 square feet, too? That’d be another $400 to $1,300, according to the online planning tool, CostHelper.com. Solid-colored tile in bargain materials like ceramic falls at the lower end of these price ranges, while patterned tile in premium materials like marble falls at the higher end—as much as 15 times the cost! Patterns in painted tile floors, on the other hand, would only cost you double or triple the expenses for materials (depending on how many colors) and time.

6 Key Tips for Painting Bathroom Tile

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It affords endless looks.

Popular bathroom tile materials—ceramic, porcelain (a subset of ceramic tile), natural stone (marble, travertine, slate, granite, or limestone), and quarry tile—are sold in a number of solid colors or patterns. Still, those preset styles might not suit the design of your bathroom, go out of fashion after you’ve installed them, or, be simply too cost-prohibitive to install. With paint, you can lighten, darken, or apply a pattern of your own design to your tile to fit any bathroom aesthetic, from a retro checkerboard pattern to a cool and contemporary geometric design. And, should your style change in three years, you can easily repaint.

Keep in mind that brighter paint colors are a better option for space-limited bathrooms; darker paint absorbs light and can have the effect of making a small bath look more constricted.

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It’s not practical to paint tile on all bathroom surfaces.

With the exception of glazed quarry tile (which doesn’t bond well with paint), you can apply paint to most popular types of tile: ceramic, porcelain, natural stone, or even un-glazed quarry tile. But your paint job will last the longest on tiled bathroom surfaces that receive low to moderate exposure to moisture—think bathroom floors (outside the immediate vicinity of the tub), walls, and backsplashes. Tiled countertops, tub surrounds, or shower surfaces, while paintable, aren’t as practical surfaces for this treatment

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Bathroom Ventilation: 9 Easy Ways to Improve

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Your bathroom is the wettest room in your home. Steamy showers, flushing toilets, running sinks, and occasional drips add up to high humidity. And with major moisture comes potential problems: mold and mildew, a funky smell, peeling wallpaper, paint that chips and scratches easily, and even lifting or splitting of laminated plywood vanities. Luckily, proper bathroom ventilation can keep humidity and its resulting issues in check. Here are nine ways to prevent excessive moisture buildup in your bathroom.

Do choose the right bathroom fan.

If you don’t have a window in your bathroom, chances are good the building codes in your city require a bathroom vent fan. These fans pull moisture-laden air out of the room—as well as bathroom odors—and vent them outside. You’ll find several types to choose from, including simple box fans that install in the ceiling, combination bathroom fan/light fixtures, combination bathroom fan/light/heater fixtures, and wall-mount bathroom fans for situations where you must vent the fan through the wall without much ductwork. More often, bathroom fans vent out through a duct running up to the roof.

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Although most bathroom vent fans are quite simple, some have bells and whistles, such as motion sensors that switch the device on when you enter the bathroom and turn it off once you leave. Some units even have a heat exchange function, which uses the vented warm air to heat up incoming cooler air, thus preventing the fan from sucking out your home’s warmth during the winter months. You’ll also find fan/light fixtures with decorative globes and finishes that add a bit of style.

Don’t forget to measure your bathroom.

Typical building regulations call for a full air exchange—a measurement of the air movement out of a space divided by the square footage of that space—five times per hour, but most contractors and building experts feel that’s actually a bit low, and recommend you choose a fan that provides at least eight full air exchanges per hour. No need to bother with a calculator and mathematical equations, however; you’ll generally get close to that goal by choosing a bathroom fan with a cubic-feet-per-minute (CFM) capacity that’s the same as your bathroom’s square footage. For example, if your bathroom is 80 square feet, you need a vent fan with an 80 CFM capacity. Add an extra 100 CFM if your bathroom sports a jetted tub to compensate for the additional moisture tossed into the air by the water’s agitation.

Do make the right installation decision.

If you’re simply replacing an old bathroom fan with a newer unit, the project is within the realm of most handy DIYers, as you’ll be able to use the existing vents and electrical connections. If working with electricity is not within your comfort range, however, leave the job to a professional. And you’ll need a pro to install a fan in

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Bathroom Materials | Bathroom Wall Material

A clean, well-planned, and stunning bathroom is every homeowner’s goal. But creating it can be a bit of a sticky wicket.

All that water, humidity, and artificial lighting, and those tight corners make the space a real challenge. Don’t make it worse by wasting money on materials that won’t withstand the task or will need replacing when they don’t work out. Dodge bad bathroom decisions by avoiding these five things:

#1 Wallpaper

Bathroom with red wallpaper

Image: Iriana Shiyan/Shutterstock

In a high-steam area such as a bathroom, wallpaper may start to peel in a few years, according to some designers. In fact, steam is used to strip old wallpaper off walls.

Despite the many photos of stylish, wallpapered bathrooms in magazines, unless it’s a half-bath or guest bath that’s seldom used, skip it. Really want the unique look wallpaper provides? Try a solid vinyl wall covering instead. It won’t allow moisture to seep through.

#2 Laminate Flooring

Love the look and affordability of laminate flooring? Use it in another room. Water and laminate floors don’t mix. Even tiny amounts of water will seep between the planks, causing them to expand, peel, swell, and lift from the floor.

Even laminate manufacturers advise against installing in high moisture areas. The good news? There are plenty of other products out there that work extremely well in bathrooms. Take another look at linoleum. It’s eco-friendly, budget-friendly, and comes in a wide variety of looks.

#3 Slippery or Glossy Tile or Stone

Bathroom with a slippery tile floor

Image: Iriana Shiyan/Shutterstock

Many ceramic, porcelain, and stone floors will become slippery in wet conditions. The more polished a tile, the more likely it will become slippery when wet.

Solution: Select your bathroom floor surface carefully, vetting each against slippery conditions. Look for tiles certified to meet slip-resistance standards specified by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

#4 Wall-to-Wall Carpet

Man removing carpet from a home bathroom

Carpet, while soft and comfy, isn’t ideal flooring in a powder room. Not only is the ick factor apparent, especially around the toilet, but mold and mildew can build up, which can cause health issues. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention specifically advises against carpeting bathrooms to avoid mold exposure.

If you really want the cozy touch of carpet in the bathroom, fluffy bath mats add color and comfort — and can be regularly laundered.

#5 Yellow Paint

When selecting paint colors, remember that color will appear more intense on your bathroom walls than it would in most other rooms, especially if the bathroom relies heavily on artificial lighting.

“In that smaller space, where the mirror multiplies the impact of the

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Bathroom Storage

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