Tile Paint Instructions

The Air Dry Method

On this page, I explain how to tile paint using the air dry method. The air dry method is for painting ceramic tile murals on tiles that were previously installed and already in place.

If you are looking for information regarding painting ceramic tile wall murals on tiles that are not yet installed, please see instructions for how to paint ceramic tile using the heat set method.

Delta Air Dry PermEnamel Paint is the tile paint I recommend for this method.

PermEnamel Paint is a no-bake, air dry permanent paint that can be used on glazed tile, as well as glass and metal.

When using PermEnamel, you will also need to use PermEnamel Surface Conditioner and PermEnamel Glaze. Depending on your preference, the glaze is available in either shiny or satin finish.

If applied properly and allowed to cure properly, the tile paint will permanently bond to the tile, and will even be dishwasher, microwave, and oven safe to 350 degrees.

And now, following are step by step instructions for how to painting ceramic tile murals with the air dry method.

Step by Step Instructions for Tile Painting with the Air Dry Method

Remember, these instructions are for painting ceramic tiles that were previously installed.


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 dish soap and warm water. Rinse thoroughly and allow to dry completely.

Do not use glass cleaner, vinegar, or any other additive. Avoid touching the surface of the ceramic tiles so that oils from your skin do not transfer to the tiles.


Prepare the tile surface for painting. Using a clean, dry, soft brush, apply Delta Air Dry PermEnamel Surface Conditioner to the tile surface. The Conditioner has a life of four hours only, so apply only to the areas that you will be able to complete within that timeframe. If necessary, you may reapply the conditioner and continue with the project after giving the conditioner adequate time to evaporate.

After applying the conditioner, you will notice a visible film or haze on the tiles. Do not wipe off this film - it will eventually disappear on its own. The haze is caused because the bonding agents within the conditioner are suspended in an alcohol base. The bonding agents in the conditioner cause the paint to permanently bond to the tile when cured.


After the PermEnamel Surface Conditioner has completely evaporated, you can paint the tiles. Stencils are one of my favorite choices for painting designs on tiles, however, check out my page about transfer techniques for other good ideas.

Although painting with PermEnamel Paint is very similar to painting with acrylic paint, there is one big difference. Water is not compatible with this type of paint. Soap and water can be used to clean the brushes, and the brushes can be rinsed in water between colors, but the paintbrush must be completely dry before returning it to the paint. If you rinse the paintbrush, use a clean, dry paper towel to blot off all water before continuing with your project

To achieve a watercolor effect or thin the paint, use Air Dry PermEnamel Thinner and follow the manufacturer's directions. To slow the drying time of the tile paint and allow for extended blending time, use PermEnamel Retarder and follow the manufacturer's instructions.

To correct any painting mistakes, use the end of a cotton swab to remove the tile paint before it is dry. Dip the clean end of the swab in the Surface Conditioner and reapply and allow to evaporate before repainting.


After the tiles have been painted and are dry, apply PermEnamel Glaze to further protect your ceramic tile design. There are two types of glaze. PermEnamel Gloss Glaze will provide a shiny finish. PermEnamel Satin Glaze can be used if a high luster shine is not desired. Glazing will cause the paint to look as if it were part of the surface rather than painted on top. The glaze can be applied to the entire ceramic tile surface or just the painted portions depending on your preference. At a minimum, apply two coats of glaze and allow one hour to dry between applications.


Let the waiting begin! PermEnamel tile paint requires ten full days to air dry before it is completely cured and permanent. During the drying time, no water or other liquid should come in contact with the surface.

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 after the paint has completely cured.

And that, step by step, is how to use tile paint with the air dry method.

Show & Tell

Upload photos of your murals or check out the submissions from other visitors to our site in the Show & Tell section of this website.

The pictures above are just a small sample of the inspiration that awaits in our visitor submission gallery!