How to Refinish Tile in Your Kitchen or Bathroom Like a Pro

published Jul 28, 2020
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Credit: Lana Kenney

Tile can make or break the look of a kitchen or bathroom. Clean, <a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="classic-looking%20tile%20creates%20a%20sophisticated%20backdrop%20for%20space,%20but%20the%20dated%20stuff%20(think:%20intricate%20floral%20patterns,%20or%20dingy%20'80s%20beige)%20can%20quickly%20drag%20down%20any%20other%20updates.%20Totally%20replacing%20the%20tile%20can%20be%20expensive,%20time-consuming,%20and%20complicated%E2%80%94but%20the%20good%20news%20is%20that%20there%20are%20other%20options.%20If%20you%E2%80%99re%20looking%20for%20a%20relatively%20quick,%20easy,%20and%20inexpensive%20way%20to%20upgrade%20your%20tile,%20reglazing%20might%20be%20the%20perfect%20weekend%20project%20for%20you.%20You%E2%80%99ll%20want%20to%20make%20sure%20that%20your%20<a%20href=" https: target="_blank">tile and grout are clean and in good shape, with no missing areas or cracks, before starting the project. Then, pick up a tile reglazing kit from your local hardware store and arm yourself with a pair of goggles, proper ventilation, and a bit of elbow grease. Read on for step-by-step instructions, plus helpful tips from experts.

1. First, figure out logistics

“Have in mind that this project takes around two days,” says Eva Bowker, a home improvement coordinator at Fantastic Handyman. This means that you need to make sure that you have other facilities that can be used while the tile is being prepared, glazed, and dried.

2. Assemble your supplies

For this project, you’ll need:

3. Do a thorough cleaning

Make sure that your tiles—and grout—are ready to receive a new coating and have been cleaned of any dirt, dust, debris, mold, soap residue, or hard water deposits. Bowker says that you can use anything from a baking soda paste to muriatic acid to bleach or a powder soap, but your reglazing kit may also come with some cleaning materials or degreasers that will do the job.

4. Sand, rinse, and dry

Your next step will be to sand down the tile. “Use sandpaper with 400 to 600 grit and the type used in both dried and wet conditions, moving the sandpaper in a small circular direction to remove the bumps,” says Adi Donna, founder of Cozy Down Home. This will both remove any remaining dirt and also gives the epoxy paint—the specific type of paint used for this reglazing work—a grippable surface to adhere to. After you sand, you should clean the tile with water and let it dry completely.

5. Tape and protect

Protect both the surrounding surfaces and yourself. “To protect the sides of the walls connecting with tiles, cover it with painter’s tape and keep it on until you finish working,” says Donna. Make sure you put on a respiratory mask, rubber gloves, and goggles so that you don’t come into contact with toxic material.

6. Follow the directions specific to your reglazing kit

Now you’re ready for the actual application of the glaze, or epoxy coating. Make sure you read the directions on the kit or coating that you’ve purchased, because the exact steps will vary. Some are one-part systems, while others are two-part systems that require combining an activator and a base, or a primer and an acrylic-urethane resin. You might also find that the coating can be applied as a spray, while others can be applied like regular paint with a roller or paintbrush. Pay special attention to the corners, says Bowker, which can sometimes get overlooked. This is especially important with a first coat or primer, which ensure any subsequent coats will adhere evenly.

7. Cure and reapply

Because different products dry, or cure, at different rates, this is another instance where you’ll want to make sure you follow the directions that are specific to your purchase. If you’re reglazing a light color over a dark color, you might need to apply multiple coats, and some manufacturers have specific instructions about the timing between coats. But regardless of the number of coats, you will need to wait at least two to three days before using the bathroom or kitchen again, and, says Donna—and even longer (up to a week!) if you’re reglazing the floor. But the wait is worth it! Allowing the tile’s paint to fully harden will ensure smooth, even results that look professionally done.