How to Paint and Stencil Old Tile Floors

Transform the look of old, outdated floors with a DIY floor upgrade! There’s no need to pry up tile or play with grout here. All you need is some paint, a stencil, and a few other helpful supplies to give your bathroom floor a new life. Read on to learn how to paint and stencil old tile floors.

As some of you may know, I’m in the process of giving my half-bathroom a full DIY makeover and one of the things that needed updated was the flooring. The bathroom floor itself was in perfectly good condition but the color was a dull, dirty-looking sand color that HAD TO GO.

Tile Floor Before Picture

While the flooring material looked like it was ceramic tile, it’s actually luxury vinyl tile. LVT is a durable tile look-alike that’s affordable, easy to clean, and can be replaced easily if damaged. This tutorial is great for painting both tile and LVT flooring.

So, in keeping to a strict budget, I began researching ways to update the look of tile without replacing it. Turns out, painting your floor is a great option! I created a list of the best floor paint supplies, best floor painting methods, and the common mistakes people make. Then I got to it!

After successfully completing this project and learning some best practices along the way, I created this tutorial on how to paint and stencil old tile floors.

Finished painted and stenciled floor

Here are the answers to some common questions:

How long will painted floors last?

This is variable but the consensus is that correctly painted floors should last 2-3 years under normal use (not recommended for high-traffic areas). After the first 2 years, they might just need a touch-up in a few places and another coat of polyacrylic. If you take care of them and give them a re-coat of polyacrylic every 2 years or so, they may last even longer. It’s definitely a beautiful way to modernize your flooring before needing to replace them.  

What kind of floor paint should I use?

Over the past few years, we’ve seen an increase in paint products made specifically for painting floors. Some have great reviews and some, eh, not so great. I did a ton of research to find the best and most durable combination of floor paint products to use and then tested them out myself to ensure quality. Here’s what they are:

  • Zinsser All-Purpose Primer – Get it from Amazon here
  • Behr Porch and Patio Floor Paint (Low Lustre Enamel) $32
  • Rust-oleum HOME Floor Coating Step 1 $23
  • Minwax Polycrylic Satin Finish $11
Behr porch and patio paint

The reason I used Polycrylic instead of polyurethane is that polyurethane can cast a yellow hue over anything it’s painted over. Since I wanted my painted floors to be a nice crisp white, I chose polycrylic. Now, some say that Polycrylic is slightly less durable than polyurethane but that small difference was worth it to me to keep my floors looking white.

I didn’t use the Rustoleum HOME Floor Coating Step 2 because, to be frank, it just didn’t get great reviews. Maybe one day I’ll paint another floor and try it but, for this, I didn’t want to take any chances. Sorry, Rust-oleum. I still love you!

How long will this project take?

From start to finish, painting and stenciling my bathroom floor took 9-10 hours over the course of 5 days. The drying time in between paint coats is what really extends the life of the project. After the “work” is done in the first 5 days, the floor paint and polycrylic will need to cure for 2-3 days before regular use.

Here’s what you’ll need to paint your floors:

  • Zinsser All-Purpose Primer – you can get it here from Amazon
  • Behr Porch and Patio Floor Paint (Low Lustre Enamel)
  • Rust-oleum HOME Floor Coating Step 1
  • Minwax Polycrylic Satin Finish
  • 3-pk large 1/4 – 3/8 nap Rollers (make sure they’re shed resistant)
  • 1 Small Foam Roller
  • Nylon Paint Brush
  • Painter’s Tape
  • Sandpaper
  • Floor Stencil – I made my stencil but you can purchase one from Etsy for $7 – $10
  • De-glosser – I recommend this one from Amazon because it doesn’t have a strong odor and is biodegradable.
  • Degreasing cleaner – I like this Super Clean from Amazon. I’ve been using it for years and highly recommend it for all sorts of tough cleaning jobs!
  • Extra supplies: cardboard, Swiffer cloth, paper towels, small detail brush

Since I already had a paintbrush, some sandpaper, and some painter’s tape, this project cost me around $110. Not only did painting my tile floors save me from having to rip up the existing flooring but it also meant I didn’t have to use a tile cutter or spend big bucks on hiring a floor installation professional. Win!

Here’s how to paint and stencil old tile floors:

  1. Begin by taping off your baseboards, toilet, vanity, and anything you don’t want to be painted.   
  1. Next, use the de-glosser over the entire floor. Wipe off the excess with a damp cloth.
Floor Paint Preparation Deglosser
  1. Then, use some sandpaper to roughen up the floor surface and remove any unsightly grout bumps. Give the floor a quick wipe to remove most of the dust.
  1. Now, give that floor the best cleaning of its life! I used a degreaser to ensure a really good, deep clean. Make sure the floor is clear of any dirt and dust particles. I recommend using a Swiffer cloth through the process to clear the floor of any dust or lint that may float in.
Super Clean Degreaser
  1. Now you’re ready to apply the first coat of primer. Start by using a paintbrush to cut in from the baseboards in a small section in the far back corner. Then, fill in with a roller. I find that by using the roller to apply primer/paint while the edges are still wet, I get a more blended, seamless application. Keep moving, section by section, towards the doorway until you’ve primed the entire floor. Avoid painting yourself in! Allow 3 hours to dry.
  1. Apply a second coat of primer and give 3 more hours to dry.
  1. Now you can apply the first coat of floor paint! Apply the Behr Porch and Patio paint in the same fashion as you applied the primer. Allow to dry for 3 hours.
  1. Apply a second coat of paint and allow to dry for 3 more hours.
  1. Now for the fun portion of learning how to paint and stencil old tile floors: Stenciling! Start in a far, back corner in a somewhat inconspicuous space. Your first stencil attempt probably won’t be perfect. Roll a small amount of the Rusto-leum floor paint onto the mini foam roller and roll off the excess on a piece of cardboard. Less is more here!   
  1. Holding the stencil firmly in place, roll over the stencil with medium pressure until you’ve covered all areas.
  1. Pick up the stencil and place it in the next spot! Line it up carefully and think ahead about where the next few stencils will line up. Continue this process until you’ve stenciled all of the main areas of the floor. Don’t worry too much about the edges at this point. Allow to dry for 6 hours.
Close-up Floor Stenciling
  1. Now you’ll work to get your stenciling up against the wall and in hard-to-reach areas. You may need to cut your stencil for this. Be strategic in cutting, making small cuts at a time so that you’ll have the right size stencil for all areas. This is also when you can free-hand any areas of the floor that the stencil can’t reach and touch up any bleeding from the previous stenciling. Allow the edges and touch-ups to dry for 6 hours.
  1. Now, remove the tape! You may want to use a box cutter to create a clean cut along the bottom of the tape first. I suggest removing the tape prior to sealing the floor for two reasons: The first is so you can touch up any unpainted spots along the baseboards prior to sealing. The second is so the polycrylic will be able to reach and seal down any exposed paint edges that occur. This will help stop the paint from lifting/peeling in the future.
  1. Next, use a low-shed roller to apply the polycrylic and smooth out any bubbles with a brush. Allow to dry for 24 hours and then apply a second coat.


Finished painted floor


  • The primer and paint instructions may indicate that you can apply a second coat in 1-2 hours. However, since you’ll be walking on the painted flooring, it’s best to wait a bit longer so it doesn’t smudge.
  • I recommend allowing the 1st coat of polycrylic to dry for 24 hours before applying the second coat because it will give you a more durable, hard finish.
  • Many stenciling tutorials advise you to use a repositionable adhesive to keep the stencil in place. I HIGHLY advise against it. Here’s why:
  1. It will leave a sticky residue on your floor which may interfere with the polycrylic’s ability to adhere.
  2. This sticky residue will attract and collect dirt, dust, hair, EVERYTHING.
  3. The adhesive will build up on the underneath of the stencil, making the stencil thicker and making it more difficult for the foam roller to transfer paint to the floor.
  4. The adhesive instructions say it dries after 3 hours. It doesn’t. My hallway floor is still sticky days later (It’s a construction zone so I haven’t cleaned it yet)
  • If possible, I recommend adding shoe molding when you’re finished painting your floor. Here’s why:
  1. After removing the tape, there could be a visible line under the baseboard where the paint stops.
  2. There’s always the possibility of the tape removing some of the paint from your baseboards.
  3. Some of the floor edge stenciling/free-handing may not look as good as the rest of the floor.

The good news is that if you can paint your floor, you can definitely add shoe molding! It’s so easy and it only costs a few bucks. I’m creating that tutorial as we speak!

And there you have it! Everything you need to know about how to paint and stencil old tile floors! This is one DIY project that packs a HUGE punch!

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