How to Decorate With Paint on Ceramic Tile

Use a small paint brush for fine details.
Use a small paint brush for fine details. (Image: paint brush to paint big parts image by Ramona smiers from

Ordinary ceramic tile can be transformed by adding artwork with paint. You may wish to add a mural to your kitchen backsplash or a decorative border to tiles on your bathroom wall. With a bit of prep work and artistic skill, decorating ceramic tile with paint is a fairly simple task to accomplish.

Things You'll Need

  • Bathroom cleaner
  • Paper and pencil
  • Stencil and painter's tape, if desired
  • Glossy acrylic paint
  • Water-based urethane

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Clean the ceramic tile with a mildly-abrasive bathroom cleaner to remove any residue like dirt, oil or grease.

Plan out your tile designs. It may be helpful to sketch out your plan on paper. For those who are not artistically inclined, using stencils provides a way to create shapes and patterns.

Paint the designs onto the tiles using high-gloss acrylic paint. Use fine-tipped brushes for small tiles and intricate details. If you’re using a stencil, attach it to the tile beforehand using small pieces of painter's tape in each corner.

Wait two to three days for the paint to adequately dry. Avoid touching the paint in any way during this time.

Paint a coat of water-based urethane over the entire surface of the tile. Urethane finishes seal in the paint so the design holds up to wear and tear. Once the coat is dry, add a second one.

Tips & Warnings

  • While an oil-based urethane can be used on tile, over time, it may develop a golden tint. Water-based urethane stays clear forever, avoiding this potential problem.


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