What Kind of Paint and Primer Is Best for Bathroom Tile?

Painting your tile can be a quick and easy solution when updating your bathroom. It is budget-friendly and a great way to add a pop of color or pattern to a room that can often be bland. So what is the best type of paint and primer for bathroom tile?

Water-based paint is best for ceramic bathroom tile and should be applied with a primer first. Water-based paint is easy to clean, low-odor, and dries quickly. A urethane primer should be used before painting the tile because it adds extra protection against water damage.

In this article, you will learn:

  • The 5 factors to consider when choosing paint for bathroom tile
  • What type of paint to use
  • What finish is best
  • My top picks for the best paint and primer for bathroom tile

The 5 Factors to Consider When Choosing Paint for Bathroom Tile

1. Tile Type 

Before deciding on the type of paint, you must identify the type of tile in your bathroom. Different types of tiles require different types of paint. Tiles such as ceramic and porcelain are the most common types of bathroom tiles and are compatible with various types of paint.

However, you must use specialized paint for natural stone surfaces if you have natural stone tiles such as granite, limestone, or travertine.

2. Water Resistance 

Bathrooms are constantly exposed to moisture, making it essential to choose water-resistant paint. Paints that contain acrylic and epoxy are ideal for bathroom tile painting because they have water-resistant properties that protect the surface from water damage. These paints create a waterproof barrier that helps protect your tiles from water damage.

3. Adhesion 

Choosing a paint that adheres well to the surface is the key to a long-lasting bathroom tile painting job. Paints that aren’t designed for bathroom tiles may peel or chip away over time due to the humid environment in the bathroom.

Therefore, you need to pick tile-specific paints that adhere well. Preparing the surface by cleaning the tiles, removing any loose materials, and sanding the surface before applying the paint is also important.

4. Color and Style 

The color and style of the paint you choose will significantly impact your bathroom’s overall look and feel. Before selecting a paint color, consider the existing decor and color scheme. 

Lighter colors like beige, gray, or white are popular for bathroom tiles, creating a clean and streamlined look. However, if you want to add a pop of color, you can opt for bold accent colors like blue or green. Whatever color you choose, ensure it complements the rest of the bathroom.

5. Budget 

While it may be tempting to use a low-cost paint alternative, it is essential to avoid compromising on quality. Investing in high-quality bathroom tile paint will save you money in the long run since you won’t have to repaint or re-tile your bathroom frequently.

What Type of Paint Is Best?

Water-based Paint (Acrylic or Latex)

Water-based paint, also known as latex or acrylic paint, is a type of paint where water is used as the carrier for the pigment.


  • Dries faster than oil-based or epoxy paints
  • Cleaning up after is easy
  • Less odor
  • Non-flammable
  • Environmental friendly


  • May not hold up as well as other paints if constantly exposed to moisture
  • Requires multiple coats to achieve the desired opacity and finish
  • May not adhere as well to glossy surfaces without proper surface preparation
  • Extreme temperatures can affect the application and drying process
  • Color may fade

Epoxy Paint

Epoxy paint is a two-component product consisting of one part epoxy resin and one part polyamine hardener. They cure into a thick, hard, and durable coating when mixed together.

It is best used for tiles exposed to moisture, such as in a bathroom or kitchen. The downside is that epoxy paint can be difficult to apply and may require several coats for best results.


  • Resists humidity and frequent cleaning
  • Applies over various surfaces
  • Enhances aesthetic with a glossy look
  • Creates a seamless, waterproof barrier


  • Complex application process requires precise mixing and quick application
  • Requires thorough cleaning and removal of existing coatings
  • Produces strong fumes, so needs good ventilation
  • Takes longer to dry and cure
  • Hard to remove once cured

What Paint Finish Is Best?

Given the moisture level in bathrooms, it is essential to opt for a finish that is water-resistant and durable. In general, a glossy finish is better for bathroom tiles because it is more resistant to water and stains.

A high-gloss finish is the most durable option for bathroom tiles. This type of finish looks sleek and modern and has a high level of shine that makes it easy to clean.

With its robust and durable properties, it can withstand the moisture level in bathrooms and help repel stains and dirt buildup.

Semi-gloss is another great option for painting bathroom tiles. The finish offers a slightly less glossy look than high-gloss but is still water-resistant and durable enough to withstand moisture and high traffic. This finish is an excellent choice for those who want a more subdued yet elegant look.

Satin finishes are also an option for bathroom tiles. Satin finishes offer a soft, subtle sheen that is neither too shiny nor matte. They provide moisture resistance and protection but may require more maintenance than higher gloss options.

The Best Paint and Primer for Bathroom Tile

Best Paint

Zinsser AllCoat Exterior Paint is the perfect choice for painting bathroom tiles. This high-performance paint delivers a long-lasting finish of up to 15 years.

Designed to provide excellent color retention, this paint offers the versatility of being tintable to any color through the appropriate tint base. 

With its incredible performance, it’s the top choice for painting bathroom tiles. The paint offers multi-surface application, which makes it a convenient option for both painted and unpainted surfaces. The self-priming system is easy to apply and can be used on various surfaces such as wood, metal, and tiles. 

With a fast recoat time of just 1 hour, this paint offers hassle-free application, making it easy to achieve an impressive finish. You won’t have to worry about waiting several hours before the paint dries.

Another excellent feature of Zinsser AllCoat Exterior is its flexible and micro-porous paint. It accommodates the expansion and contraction of surfaces, making them less prone to cracking and chipping. 

Additionally, its micro-porous nature allows the paint to breathe, preventing the growth of molds, mildew, and bacteria.

Best Primer

Benjamin Moore’s Insl-X Stix is an excellent primer option for bathroom tiles due to its outstanding enamel holdout and high-adhesion formula.

Insl-X Stix is an acrylic urethane bonding primer that is specially formulated to adhere to hard-to-coat surfaces such as tile. It offers a smooth and even finish and can be used both indoors and outdoors. Additionally, it can be easily cleaned with just soap and water.

One of its most significant advantages is its superb enamel holdout, which is essential when dealing with bathroom tiles. With this primer, you can rest assured that the paint you apply on top of it will adhere smoothly and evenly.

Another benefit of Benjamin Moore’s Insl-X Stix is that you can recoat in 3-4 hours, meaning you can complete your bathroom tile painting project more quickly. It can also be applied at low temperatures, as low as 35°F (2°C), making it a useful primer to have on hand in colder regions.

Joshua Milton

Joshua Milton is a passionate DIY and home improvement enthusiast. With his expertise in various projects, he provides practical tips, step-by-step guides, and creative ideas for transforming your living space.

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