How to Paint Ceramic Tile

The Heat Set Method

On this page, I explain how to paint ceramic tile with the heat set method. The heat set method is for painting ceramic tile murals that are not yet installed.

If you are looking for information regarding painting ceramic tile that is already in place, please see instructions for the air dry method.

Liquitex Glossies are the tile paint I recommend for this method. Liquitex Glossies are water based acrylic enamel paints that are formulated to adhere to slick, non-porous materials. When heat set, Liquitex Glossies dry to a scratch resistant, high gloss finish.

This method is not recommended for areas that are repeatedly exposed to hot water, such as showers, nor is it recommended for heavy use areas, such as floors and kitchen countertops. For these types of areas, you will need tile that is warrantied and professionally kiln-fired. Please visit Tile Murals for more information.

And now, following are step by step instructions for how to paint ceramic tile with the heat set method.

Ceramic Tile
Ceramic Tile Paint

Step by Step Instructions for How to Paint Ceramic Tile

Remember, these instructions are for painting ceramic tiles that are not yet installed.

STEP ONE:

You will first need to clean the ceramic tiles prior to applying the tile paint. To ensure the surface is free of all dirt, oils and soap films, clean with soap and warm water.

Rinse thoroughly, then clean a second time with isopropyl rubbing alcohol or with a 50/50 mixture of water and vinegar. Blot dry with a paper towel and avoid touching the surface of the ceramic tiles so that oils from your skin do not transfer to the tiles.

STEP TWO:

Let the painting begin! Liquitex Glossies, like other acrylic paints, are very easy to use and to clean up. Liquitex Glossies can be mixed together to achieve any color. The paints will air dry by evaporation. Thin layers take approximately 20 minutes and thicker paint films can take anywhere from 1 hour to 3 days to completely dry.

Mistakes (yes, they do happen when painting!), can be easily corrected by wiping with a damp rag while the paint is still wet. If the paint is already dry and you need to do some touch-up work, simply paint over the surface with the correct tile paint color.

STEP THREE:

After the paint has completely air dried on the tiles, place the tiles on a cookie sheet. Put the cookie sheet in a cold oven. Set the temperature to 325 degrees F and "bake" the ceramic tiles for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, turn the oven off, open the oven door, and let the tiles slowly cool. You can remove the tiles from the oven when they are no longer warm when touched.

Test the finish by lightly scratching the surface with your fingernail. Your fingernail should not be able to scratch the paint. If it does, it is likely that you need to increase either the air dry time or the baking time for proper adhesion.

STEP FOUR:

After you have insured proper adhesion of the paint, it is time to install the tiles. Use a non-abrasive acrylic tile grout. Other types of grout may scratch the painted surface - not something you want to happen after all that work!

STEP FIVE:

Cleaning ceramic tile murals is a fairly simple job. Do not use abrasive cleaners, but instead hand wash with warm water and a mild dishwashing detergent.

And that, step by step, is how to paint ceramic tile murals.

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