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Covering Bathroom Tiles For Cheap: Complete How-To Guide

If you’ve recently relocated to an older house that needs renovating, you might be wondering how you can improve any damaged or ugly bathroom tiles on a budget, without having to replace it all. This guide will walk you through the different options you have available to cover your bathroom tiles while sticking to a tight budget…

Old bathroom tiles can be covered with materials such as paint, beadboards, wallpaper, or carpet tiles. This can help improve a bathrooms’s decor and protect the tiles from further damage or staining without the expense of replacing the tiles altogether.

In this article, we’ll take you through in more detail, the different ways you can cover up old bathroom tiles. We’ll discuss which materials are best to use, the pros ans cons of each method, as well as how to go about using each method…

Covering Your Bathroom Tiles

There are numerous reasons why any homeowner will want to cover his/her bathroom tiles, but one of the main reasons is typically that the tiles are stained or damaged. Other homeowners want to protect their new tiles from water and being stained. Fortunately, there are numerous options available for covering the wall and floor tiles of a bathroom.

The most crucial factor you have to consider is that your solution must be waterproof. Even if the tiles are not in the splash zone (sink or shower area), they still have to withstand the condensation produced by the shower’s humidity.

All bathroom tiles have a high friction level that helps prevent slippage, so make sure the type of cover you choose doesn’t affect these factors. (1)

4 Unique Ideas for Covering Bathroom Tiles

Let’s discuss some unique ways in which you can cover your bathroom tiles whilst maintaining the protection that the area needs, along with improving or maintaining the look you desire.

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#1: Paint Tiles with a Waterproof Paint

If you plan on making a permanent alteration to your tiles, then painting them is one of the best solutions. Waterproof paint can give your outdated, stained, or scratched tiles a new lease on life. You can even add a fun pattern that can help improve your entire bathroom’s decor.

Here are a few things you might want to think about before deciding to paint your tiles:

Painting Is Cheaper Than Replacing the Tiles

Painting is cheaper than retiling the entire bathroom. It is one of the most economical ways to refresh the tiles that haven’t crumbled or cracked. Repainting the 100 sq. feet can cost you as little as $100 while retiling the same space can go as high as $1,500. (2)

And you may also have to spend another $400 to $1,300 to re-tile the space surrounding your tub and shower as well if you need a more cohesive look.

It Can Give Your Bathroom a New Look

Famous bathroom tiles like porcelain, ceramic, and natural stone tiles have specific solid patterns or colors. Unfortunately, some of these patterns and colors don’t match your interior décor and tend to go out of style soon after installation. Therefore, repainting them every few years can afford you a chance to customize them.

It Isn’t Practical to Paint All the Tiles in the Bathroom.

Other than the glazed quarry tiles, you can paint all the other types of bathroom tiles. However, your paint job will last longer on the surfaces exposed to less moisture. Painting the tiles on the floor walls near the bathtub and shower isn’t practical in the long run.

And that is because they will prematurely blister, peel or fade thanks to exposure to water. So it might be a better idea to use this method on tiles that are away from direct exposure to water.

Pick the Right Paint for the Surface & Tile Material

Different types of paint will be suitable for different tile surfaces, and it’s important to pick the right one for your tiles.

Un-glazed quarry tile, porcelain, and ceramic can only take epoxy and latex paints in two-part or one-part variety. Latex paint goes for between $10 and $30 per gallon and is less toxic and smelly. But it readily weathers when exposed to moisture, so you should save it for the walls and floors away from the splash zone. You can find some at Amazon here.

Epoxy paint (like this one on Amazon) ranges between $20 and $35 per gallon and is ideal for the splash zones. Epoxy paint cures to a durable and more rigid coat that increases your tile’s resistance to wear-and-tear, heat, and moisture than latex.

On the other hand, natural stone tiles need acrylic latex paint prepared for masonry. Acrylic latex paint generally goes for about $35 per gallon, and you can find some on Amazon here. These paints come with a broad spectrum of sheens ranging between high and flat gloss. Matte and flat sheens offer more traction, while glossier sheens are more slippery. (2)

Here’s a handy table summarizing which type of paint is best for which type of tile:

Type of
Paint Type
Unglazed quarryEpoxy or Latex
PorcelainEpoxy or Latex
CeramicEpoxy or Latex
Natural StoneAcrylic Latex

Painting Your Tiles Will Put the Bathroom Out of Commission for More Than 2 Days

This project of painting your bathroom tiles can be split into five stages:

  1. sealing
  2. pattern application
  3. painting
  4. priming
  5. preparation.

So the amount of time taken for the entire project to the end will depend on the amount of time it takes for the sealers, paints, and primers to dry. The complexity of the pattern will also play a key role in determining the duration of the project.

So here is what to expect:

  • Surface preparation entails scrubbing, vacuuming, and sanding the grout lines and tiles.
  • Priming the tiles will help make the bathroom tiles more receptive to the paints.
  • Painting the tiles can include brushing each tile separately or rolling the paint on a vast swath of tile at a time.
  • Applying the pattern includes taping the homemade stencil on the tiles you plan on patterning and creating a needed pattern.
  • Sealing the tiles will help protect the painted tiles from scratches, scuff marks, and grime.

Painted Bathroom Tiles is a Low Maintenance Solution

Keeping a painted bathroom floor clean doesn’t take much; all you have to do is mop, vacuum, and sweep. Make sure you use the right tile cleaner tailored for your tiles to prevent abrasions and retain the color. Laying mats in high traffic regions can help prevent scratches too.

So here are a few steps to follow when painting your bathroom tiles:

  • Get rid of the grout and then scrub the bathroom tiles to remove mold and soap scum. Extensive scrubbing will guarantee that you get a clean, smooth surface ready for painting.
  • Paint your tiles with the right paint and allow them to dry.
  • Once it has dried, you can sand the tiles lightly and create a unique texture that’s easy for the second paint coat to adhere to.
  • Apply as many coats of paint as you need to create the preferred look and allow the tiles to dry.
  • Once all the coats have dried, you can reapply the grout.

Advantages of Repainting the Tiles

  • It is cheaper than retiling
  • Painted tiles are more durable than unpainted ones; therefore, they can endure wear-and-tear.
  • You can customize the bathroom.
  • You can easily upgrade the tiles by giving them a new look

Disadvantages of Painting the Tiles

  • The tiles can peel or chip if not painted correctly
  • Applying multiple weeks can take a very long time to complete

#2: Attach Beadboard Panels to Cover Bathroom Tiles

Beadboard is a famous choice for wainscoting the living room and kitchen, but did you know you can also use it in bathrooms? Beadboards are characterized by raised beads and continuous, long vertical grooves. Beadboards fit side by side and are available in boards that are about 48 inches long and 4 inches wide.

To install the beadboards, you need the following materials:

  • 24 ft. base and top moldings
  • 100 sq. ft. of beadboard
  • A gallon of waterproof paint
  • Plywood
  • Miter saw
  • Cordless drill
  • Finish nail gun
  • Paintable caulk and caulking gun
  • Air compressor

How to Install Beadboards

Classic beadboard paneling can also be used in bathrooms

To give yourself an idea of what is expected if you use this method, here’s what you’d need to do:

  1. Disconnect the pipes linking the sink to the water supply and then remove the sink. Remove towel bars and all the other accessories in the walls that you want to be covered.
  2. Cut the plywood into 2 inches strips and apply them to the tiles. Make sure you drill the grout lines and then attach them to the wall using screws. The strips will come in handy when attaching the beadboard.
  3. Attach the beadboards with the nail gun and then cut them using your miter saw to fit.
  4. Install the top molding and baseboard using your nail gun.
  5. Seal all the seams using caulk.
  6. Once the beadboard installation completes, you can repaint the room using waterproof paint. You can paint the space above the beadboard before installing Wisconsin to save on time spent trimming the paint. (4)

Advantages of Beadboard

  • Wisconsin will create a visual texture and draw the eyes.
  • You can install these beadboards using some basic carpentry knowledge.
  • It’s affordable

Disadvantages of Beadboard

  • A faulty overhead plumbing or leaking roof can damage your beadboard.

#3: Apply Wallpaper & Wall Sticker

One of the most effortless and straightforward ways to protect your wall tiles is using bathroom stickers and wallpapers. The wallpaper can provide an instant solution for your rental unit with stained wall tiles. After all, wallpapers enjoy a comeback to the home décor stage after being considered outdated for years. (5)

Wallpapers can improve your home’s interior décor by decorating your living rooms and bedrooms. Luckily, the same rules apply to bathroom tiles; you can cover a specific part of your bathroom or all the walls. And if you want to cover all the walls, including the areas around the tub and sink, you should look for splash-proof wallpaper.

When applying wallpaper to your bathroom tiles, you should follow the following steps:

  1. Start by sanding the surface of the tiles to get rid of the glossy finish covering the tiles. You can prepare the surface using an electric belt sander attached to high-grit sandpaper. The belt sander can help you save time while covering a vast surface.
  2. Rinse the surface of the tiles using an all-purpose cleaner after sanding. You can remove the slick spots on the tiles using a de-glossing solution with a reliable degreaser and then rinse the walls with a lot of water and allow it to dry. (6)
  3. Fill all the grooves using a joint or spackle compound. Make sure the surface is as even as possible. Allow the grooves to dry and sand off all the rough spots.
  4. Apply a smooth layer of heavy-duty lining paper on the smooth wall. You can apply the preparation coat to the tiles before hanging the lining papers, but it should stick if the wall is well prepared. Hang the wallpapers using a heavy-duty adhesive.
  5. Prime the layers of lining paper as you would any other surface when wallpapering. Apply some acrylic primer, and then give it a few minutes to dry before finally wallpapering your bathroom wall.

Covering the tiles with brightly colored or heavily patterned wallpaper can be pretty challenging, but the ones with modern patterns and dark colors can do the trick.

Advantages of Wallpapers

  • It’s an affordable option that can serve you for about 15 years.
  • It adheres faster and hides the imperfections on your tiles.
  • It adds style, depth, and warmth to the bathroom that monotone paint cannot achieve.
  • It comes in a wide array of intriguing textures, designs, and beautiful prints that will leave a stunning effect on the walls.

Disadvantages of Wallpapers

  • Applying wallpapers takes more time than painting.
  • Removing them can be pretty tedious.
  • You have to prepare the walls before applying the wallpapers.

#4: Use Carpet Tiles to Cover Bathroom Tiles

Carpet tiles are small squared tiles that you can fit together to create modular carpets. And the ability to merge numerous patterns, textures, and colors in a single rug can allow you to create a unique rug for your bathroom tiles. (7) These carpets can be added anywhere in the house and have numerous benefits over the standard carpet.

But before you add these carpets to your bathroom, you should consider the following:

  • Will the floor be exposed to a lot of water? If so, then you should use a moisture barrier adhesive.
  • Will you remove the squares? If the carpet will be in a high traffic area and need replacement regularly, you should consider the adhesive.
  • How thick will the carpeting be? Thick carpets will require heavier adhesive.

Installing Carpet Tiles

Installing carpet tiles can be pretty easy and fast; in fact, any homeowner can do the job. And if the carpet needs an adhesive, you will have to install it on a soft floor like linoleum or vinyl tile. Some of the materials you will need for this job include:

  • Floor roller
  • Carpet tile adhesive

How to Install Carpet Tiles

Here’s a quick step by step for installing carpet tiles:

  1. Clean the surface of the bathroom tiles you plan on covering. Make sure you remove the debris and dirt and allow the floor to dry before proceeding.
  2. Lay all your carpet tiles on the floor to ensure that they fit and create the pattern you need. But make sure you measure the size of the bathroom floor when ordering the carpet tiles. After all, you can customize the tiles to fit your bathroom tiles.
  3. Apply the adhesive on the back of the carpet tiles and not the floor using a paint roller. Make sure that it’s evenly applied to the carpet tiles.
  4. Leave the carpet tiles upside down until the adhesive dries to a non-tacky, clear finish.
  5. Once ready, you can turn the carpets around and place them on your floor to the desired pattern.
  6. Finally, you can roll the tiles using a 100 pounds floor bond to attach the adhesive to the floor.

Advantages of Using Carpet Tiles

  • Durable products
  • Easy to maintain
  • Easy to install

Disadvantages of Carpet Tiles

  • Carpet tiles are prone to edge fraying


Can I Waterproof My Non-Vitreous Old Bathroom Tiles?

Yes, instead of replacing your non-vitreous tiles, you cover them using either waterproof paint or carpets. However, this can alter the entire décor of your bathroom, giving it a new and modern look while making it waterproof. Covering the tiles is one of the most effective ways of converting your non-vitreous tiles into waterproof units.

Can I Cover My Bathroom Tiles Cheaply?

Yes, just because you have some terrible tiles doesn’t mean that you have to retile the entire floor. Numerous cheaper options can change the entire outlook of your bathroom and even serve you for a very long time as you look for more cash to retile your home. Some of the cheaper options include painting and using wallpapers and stickers.

How Long Can the Cover Last On My Bathroom Tiles?

The answer to this question depends on which type of cover you used. Some cover-like paint can serve you for over five years, but this will depend on the amount of moisture in that environment. The measure taken to protect the covered tiles will also determine how long they will remain covered.

Final Thoughts

Just because all the tiles in your home are defaced doesn’t mean that you should break the bank to install new ones. After all, old tiles can affect your bathroom’s interior décor; therefore, you should look for affordable options to upgrade the tiles. And with the above cheaper solutions, your outdated tiles can look great in no time.