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Retile? Why not paint?

Retiling is arguably one of the most gruelling parts of any renovation; the effort alone to remove the tiles is enough to make most people run for the hills. Renovators have their own horror stories of continuous hammering and the resultant shards and dust in their to-be-renovated bathrooms and kitchens.


Furthermore, retiling is undoubtedly expensive and time consuming; apart from the labour costs, replacing it can send any budget spiralling. So, what to do if you simply don’t have the time, budget or the inclination to retile your bathroom or kitchen?

Paint it! Yes, paint will do the trick and give a quick makeover without breaking your back or the bank. Today’s paint technology and techniques are sophisticated and cover most surfaces, including tiles. The most effort is really the surface preparation and priming, which will, in turn, ensure that your newly painted tiles stand the test of time.

* The right paint 
Firstly, and quite obviously, choose your paint colour and ensure that it is steam resistant and therefore suitable for areas such as kitchens and bathrooms. The label will clearly indicate what the indoor paint can be used for, be it water- or oil-based. The key is to read the label properly to ensure it can handle conditions that are less ventilated and more humid.

* Clean equals success
Secondly, and importantly, is preparing the surface. Ensure the surrounding area is protected from any dust or paint. 

Next, take a suitable detergent and wash down the tiles to remove all dust and grease. For the grouted areas use a nail brush or similar to get right into the joins. If there are any cracked or chipped tiles, these will have to be repaired or replaced in order to achieve the best possible result and a uniform finish.

Once you are sure the tiles are clean, wash them down again with clean water and allow to dry. 

* Most importantly: prime
The next step is the most important as it forms an integral part of achieving a high-quality final product. Priming is critical as it seals, binds and ensures good inter-coat adhesion; so choose your primer accordingly. Again, the packaging is straightforward; you can choose primer that has been designed for tiles or universal applications.  

Don’t cut corners; an inferior and low-priced product or primer that you used as part of an exterior paint job a year ago will put some serious cracks in your tile painting efforts. As with any foundation, your priming efforts must be solid. Ultimately, primer extends the life of paint – it can withstand elements such as rising damp as it offers better alkaline properties.

Applying the primer is relatively straightforward; once the area is clean and dry, use a synthetic bristle brush and coat the tiled area evenly – smooth, vertical paint strokes are the key to achieving an even coat.

Once you have coated the entire area, you will need to leave the primer to dry, normally for several hours as indicated by the label instructions. Again, adhere to the drying time as it will contribute to the success of the final product.

After the primer is dry, rub down the entire surface with fine sandpaper and remove the dust with a lint-free cloth. Now apply the second coat of primer in the same way, and again rub down with some fine sandpaper and clean off with a lint-free cloth. 

* The end is near: paint
The next and final step is the most fun as all the preparation will start showing some results and give you a very real idea of what the finished product will look like.  

Take your natural bristle brush, or a synthetic brush if using a water-based paint, and apply the paint in much the same way as you did the primer, although it may give a better finish if you paint the grout first. 

Once you have covered the entire area, leave the paint to dry according to the manufacturer's instructions. After the paint has dried, continue with the second coat, using the same technique as before, and leave to dry thoroughly. 

The above steps are undoubtedly time consuming but not half as painful as retiling, plus it is substantially cheaper and will allow you to change your bathroom or kitchen as often as you want without the resultant dust, shards and back aches. 

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