How to Paint Terra-cotta Floor Tiles


Terra-cotta tiles, like ceramic tiles, are created by firing clay in a kiln. However, terra cotta is left its natural color, while ceramic is typically treated with a glaze coat that makes it impervious to soil and liquids. Terra-cotta tiles, usually 6 inches square, are reddish-brown. One variety of terra-cotta tiles is used in kitchens because it is given a slip-resistant surface. To apply lasting coverage to terra-cotta floor tiles, the floor must be thoroughly cleaned and correctly primed, painted and coated.

Things You'll Need

  • Distilled or purified water
  • Trisodium phosphate cleaning solution
  • Cleaning brush
  • Wet/dry vacuum
  • Acrylic masonry primer
  • Paintbrush or roller
  • Paint
  • Urethane or polyurethane finish
  • Thoroughly clean the tile. There may be mineral residue, grease, or other dirt trapped in the porous tiles. Scrub the tiles with a brush and distilled or purified water, to avoid adding mineral residue from tap water. If necessary, use a trisodium phosphate cleaner according to manufacturer directions. Avoid the use of abrasive cleaning methods or materials like strong acids, high-pressure water, or metal-bristled brushes.

  • Dry the tile using a wet/dry vacuum.

  • Apply an acrylic masonry primer to protect the finish. Several paint companies offer a variety of masonry primers. Use a roller or brush, and apply the primer according to manufacturer directions.

  • Allow the primer to dry completely.

  • Apply a semigloss or high gloss acrylic or latex paint. Follow manufacturer directions.

  • Let the paint dry for two to three days, then coat the floor tiles with clear, non-yellowing, water-based urethane or polyurethane.

Tips & Warnings

  • Make sure the room is properly ventilated throughout the cleaning, priming, painting, and coating processes.
  • Tile surfaces without any sort of slip-resistant surfacing can be extremely slippery, particularly when wet.


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