It is lots of fun to paint on ceramic plates, do pouring on tiles or simply completely renovate your bathroom.
You only need the right paint that works and sticks to porcelain or ceramics. So what are the best paints for porcelain?
Acrylic and enamel paints are best to use on porcelain and ceramic small items while epoxy and two-process paint are great for floor tiles. Acrylic enamel is also the best way to paint glazed ceramics as it is a high gloss durable paint that has a very fast air drying time.
You can paint on different ceramics and porcelain surfaces including:
- ceramic vase
- bathroom tiles
- porcelain plates
- tea pots and cups
- unglazed ceramics / glazed ceramic
Let’s see what are some recommended paints, what are some alternatives and how we should proper;y prep and paint ceramic or porcelain surfaces.
Table of Contents
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What kind of paint to use for porcelain and ceramics?
The trick with choosing the right paint for ceramics or porcelain is to have a paint that can withstand higher temperature, as normally you need to bake or seal a painted ceramic item in a kiln.
It is safe to use these types of paints on porcelain or ceramics:
- regular acrylic paint
- acrylic paint for ceramics/glass or multi-surface acrylic paint
- enamel paint
- ceramic paint
- bake-on markers
- epoxy paint for tiles or bathtubs, sinks and toilets
- two-process paint for tiles, bathtubs, sinks and toilets
- alkyd paints for tiles
- latex paint
Enamel paint is usually oil-based and it has glossy finish once dry.
It is known to be very durable.
Acrylic paints can be regular – for painting mainly on canvas or paper or special paints that have additives to make them stick better to a specific surface, for example acrylic paints for glass, fabric, or in our case – ceramics.
I should mention though that even regular acrylics are the most versatile paints, the special paints just got an extra kick. Additives hekp with better adhesion of the paint and add durability.
Ceramic painting with acrylic is one of the easiest way to start as acrylics are widely available and can be pretty cheap.
One of the major advantages of acrylics is a wide variety of colors to choose from.
Ceramic and porcelain paints
Craft ceramic paints are sometimes water-based paints, similar to acrylic paint.
Porcelain paints can be air-dried or baked to set the design permanently.
Glass paints can sometimes be used on porcelain and ceramics with good results, especially if they are compatible with heat setting and you’re working on a small items.
These paints are specifically designed for glass but can adhere to other smooth surfaces, including porcelain.
Read also: Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Glass
Do I need to use primer on ceramics?
Priming ceramic surfaces before painting is generally a good idea as it can enhance the adhesion of the paint and create a smoother, more even surface for your work.
If you painting on a tile you can sand it and ise gesso, but for floor tiles you need to use proper universal primer like Zinsser.
Once you applied priming coating, do an adhesion test to see if the paint sticks well and doesn’t peel off.
Priming can be completely optional for small items but if you work with porcelain tiles, you should really do a coat of primer for best results.
Top-10 Best Paints for Porcelain & Ceramics
- Highly pigmented for opaque coverage
- Durable, scratch-resistant finish
- Top-shelf, dishwasher safe
- Air-dry or bake to cure
- Acrylic paint
- AutoAir acrylics
- MontMarte ceramic paints
- PEBEO Porcelaine
- PEBEO Ceramic
- Ratel Porcelain paint for ceramics (UK)
- Decola glass and ceramic paint
- Ceramic paint pens Artistro
- Baker Ross pastel porcelain paint pots (UK)
- soto touch up
Note on FolkArt
You can actually use 4 paints from FolkArt to paint on ceramics or porcelain:
- FolkArt multi-surface
- FolkArt enamel paint for glass
- FolkArt ceramic paint (enamel)
- FolkArt Terracota
How do you paint porcelain ceramics?
- Clean, dry porcelain ceramic surface
- Porcelain paint or ceramic paint
- Porcelain primer (optional, but recommended)
- Paintbrushes suitable for detailed work
- Water (for cleaning brushes if using water-based paint)
- Lint-free cloth or paper towels
- Oven (for heat-setting, if required)
- Clear sealant (optional, for added protection)
- Clean the Surface:
- Wash the ceramic piece with warm, soapy water to remove any dust, dirt, or grease.
- Rinse thoroughly and dry it completely with a lint-free cloth or paper towels.
- Apply Primer (Optional but Recommended):
- If you choose to use a porcelain primer, apply a thin, even coat over the surface of the ceramic.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for drying time.
- Use high-quality porcelain paint or ceramic paint. These paints are specifically formulated for smooth, non-porous surfaces and are available in various colors.
- Stir the paint well to ensure an even consistency.
- Apply the paint using fine brushes for detailed work. If you’re not satisfied with your first attempt, you can wipe the paint off with a damp cloth while it’s still wet and start again.
- Allow the paint to dry completely between layers, following the recommended drying times provided by the paint manufacturer.
- Additional Layers and Details:
- Layer your colors, allowing each layer to dry before applying the next to avoid smudging or mixing colors unintentionally.
- Add finer details with smaller brushes, taking your time to ensure precision.
- Setting the Paint:
- Some porcelain and ceramic paints require heat-setting to become permanent and durable. Read the instructions on your paint carefully to determine if heat-setting is necessary.
- If heat-setting is required, place the painted ceramic piece in a cold oven. Heat the oven to the temperature specified in the paint’s instructions and bake the piece for the recommended duration. Usually you need to bake it at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180C).
- After baking, allow the piece to cool completely inside the oven before removing it.
- Sealing (Optional):
- If you want extra protection for your artwork, you can apply a clear sealant after the paint has dried and been heat-set. This can add a layer of protection against wear and tear.
How to paint ceramic tiles
With the right type of paint you can make a custom coaster from an old tile, upgrade your bathroom floor tiles and add some patterns or simply refresh old paint.
Choose what is your goal:
Pouring or painting on a single tile
Poruing over tiles to make beautiful coasters or painting comic lines and full landscapes is very popular and satisfying.
Acrylic pouring on tiles can create stunning, vibrant designs.
- Acrylic paint in various colors (can use premixed)
- Pouring medium* (don’t need if using premixed pouring paints)
- Mixing cups and sticks
- Plastic sheets or drop cloths
- Disposable gloves
- torch or heat gun (optional, for removing air bubbles)
- Sealant (optional, for protecting the finished artwork)
- Hair dryer (optional, to make bloom technique)
- Prepare Your Workspace:
- Cover your workspace with plastic sheets or drop cloths to catch drips and spills. Wear disposable gloves to keep your hands clean.
- You can also place your tile in a large plastic container that will collect all drips.
- Mix Your Pouring Medium:
- If you are using regular acrylics (I suggest Amsterdan or Liquitex for pouring) mix acrylic paint with pouring medium in separate cups. Use a 1:1 ratio of paint to pouring medium or the ratio specified on the bottle (sometimes 1:2 or 1:3). Stir until the mixture is smooth and free of lumps.
- You can skip this step if you bought premixed pouring paint.
- Create Your Pouring Colors:
- Create different colored mixes for your pour by adding various acrylic paint colors to separate cups of pouring medium. Mix each color well.
- This step depends on what technique you want to use. Flip and dirty cup are the easiest.
- Prepare the Tile:
- Clean the tile thoroughly and place it on small cups or containers to elevate it slightly above the surface. This allows the excess paint to drip off and the dried paint won’t harden on edges.
- Pour the Colors:
- Pour the colored mixtures onto the tile. You can pour the paint from a central point or create intricate designs by pouring from different heights and angles.
- Manipulate the Paint:
- Tilt the tile gently to spread the paint, creating interesting patterns. You can also use a palette knife or a straw or a hairdryer to manipulate the paint and create additional textures.
- Remove Air Bubbles (Optional):
- Use a blowtorch or heat gun to carefully pass over the surface of the poured paint to remove air bubbles. Keep the heat source moving to avoid scorching the paint.
- Let It Dry:
- Allow the tile to dry completely. This may take 24 to 48 hours, depending on the thickness of the paint layers and the humidity in your environment.
- Seal the Artwork (Optional):
- Once the paint is thoroughly dry, you can apply a clear sealant or varnish to protect the finished artwork and add a glossy finish.
Remember, acrylic pouring can be a messy process, so make sure to protect your surroundings adequately.
Experiment with different color combinations and pouring techniques to create unique and visually striking tile artworks.
Repainting tile floors or walls
Tile DIY projects require good specialty paints that don’t require baking or heat setting (clearly we can’t bake our floors lol), is washable and can be used in high-traffic areas like bathrooms where we go at least twice a day!
For shower tile paints I would also look for a strong water-proof paint or additional water resistant coating.
Thus I wouldn’t recommend using regular acrylics or craft ceramic paints for tile floor.
- Tile cleaner / degreaser or TSP
- Fine-grit sandpaper (around 220-grit)
- Tile primer (KILZ or Zinsser)
- Tile paint (preferably epoxy or professional tile paint)
- High-quality brushes or a paint sprayer
- Painter’s tape
- Drop cloths or newspapers
- Clear tile sealer (optional)
- Clean the Tiles:
- Clean the tiles thoroughly using a tile cleaner to remove any grease, grime, or soap scum. Rinse and let them dry completely.
- Prepare the Surface:
- Lightly sand the tiles with fine-grit sandpaper. This creates a slightly rough surface for better adhesion. Wipe away the dust with a clean, damp cloth.
- Repair any chips or small damage in tiles. You can use this repair kit.
- Apply Primer:
- Apply a thin, even coat of tile primer over the tiles. Use a high-quality brush or a paint sprayer for a smoother application.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding drying time. Usually, primers need to dry for several hours or overnight.
- Paint the Tiles:
- *If not sure about color, if the primer has dried or if the paint will stick at all do not paint the entire surface and do not start from a visible area. Do a quick test first.
- Use high-quality paint, preferably epoxy or urethane resin-based, for durability and resistance against water and wear.
- If you decide to use epoxy-based paint please have all required protective gear like mask and gloves as epoxy is toxic and work in a well-ventilated area.
- Apply the first coat of paint using smooth, even strokes. Avoid heavy application to prevent drips. Let it dry completely.
- Apply a second coat if necessary, ensuring the first coat is completely dry. Follow the recommended drying time between coats.
- Add Decorative or Patterned Tiles (Optional):
- If you want to create patterns or decorative elements, use painter’s tape to mask off the areas where you want the base color to show through or make (buy) stencils.
- Apply the second color (or colors) over the taped areas. Remove the tape carefully while the paint is still wet to achieve sharp lines.
- Clean grout lines from excess paint
- Allow Drying Time:
- Let the tiles dry for at least 24-48 hours after the final coat. Avoid heavy use or exposure to water during this time.
- Bathroom floor tile can take up to 20 days to completely cure so don’t do any heavy duty cleaning until then.
- Seal the Tiles (Optional but Recommended for High-Traffic Areas):
- Apply a clear tile sealer to protect the painted surface, especially in high-traffic areas or in places where the tiles are frequently exposed to water.
- Reassemble and Decorate:
- Once the paint and sealer are completely dry, carefully reassemble any fixtures or furniture.
Once finished clean brushes, especially if you used epoxy paint, and make sure there is no pets near those tiles. A hair can stuck in epoxy and it will be there for good.
Will ceramic paint work on porcelain?
Yes, ceramic paint can work on porcelain surfaces. Both ceramics and porcelain are fired at high temperatures, making them similar in composition. So ceramic paints, especially those designed for high-temperature applications, can adhere well to porcelain.
What is the best paint for glazed porcelain?
Enamel paint is the correct paint to use on glazed porcelain and you can reglaze the item. However the paint layer over glaze will have visible brush strokes.
How do you get acrylic paint to stay on porcelain?
To make acrylic paint adhere to porcelain effectively, you need to properly. First, degrease or even lightly sand the surface. For heavy duty work you can use a primer. To ensure durability, you can also bake the painted porcelain piece in an oven. This process helps the acrylic paint bond with the porcelain surface, making it more resistant to wear and washing.
Can you use enamel paint on porcelain?
Porcelain surfaces can be painted with enamel paint. It adheres well to smooth and non-porous surfaces like porcelain or ceramics.
Can I use acrylic paint on porcelain?
Yes, you can use regular acrylic paint or ceramic acrylics on porcelain surfaces. To make sure acrylic sticks well, clean the porcelain thoroughly and apply a primer specifically designed for non-porous surfaces before using acrylic paint, and once the primer has dried, you can paint your design using acrylics. Remember, some acrylic paints require heat-setting in an oven.
Does paint stain porcelain?
No, fresh paint generally does not stain porcelain due to its non-porous nature. Wet paint can be easily wiped off porcelain surfaces without causing stains. However, if paint is allowed to dry and harden on porcelain, it can be challenging to remove it.
Warm, soapy water or paint thinners, can help remove dried paint from porcelain. Avoid abrasive materials or metal scrapers as you can simply scratch porcelain.
Masha Eretnova is a certified teacher. She started painting and drawing 20+ years ago and now is an international abstract artist and educator passionate about acrylic painting, gouache and crafts.
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Last update on 2023-12-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API