How to Paint a Ceramic Tile Fireplace for an Easy Home Update

We’re all moved in! The house is an unfinished mess but we couldn’t be happier. We’ve got room to roam with 3 acres out back and a house that is slowly becoming our own. An outdated 1980’s fireplace was one of the first little spaces to get transformed. It’s a super easy DIY but it definitely required research on how to paint a ceramic tile fireplace.

how to paint tile fireplace

Before moving in, I could not let this space go. There were many wish list projects cut for the sake of time and money, but I could not look another day at this peachy ceramic tile. You know how it is, sometimes a small detail will haunt you every. single. day. So I jumped in and painted this sucker.

We were dealing with some serious orangey Oak and peach faux marble here. It was screaming for a full-on makeover. Since I wanted to paint both the wood mantel AND the fireplace tile surround, I needed to really sort out the steps and process

outdated fireplace before painting

I wanted a more modern, minimal look for the tile fireplace. I know that updating a fireplace has major impact and would completely change this space. For example, I later painted a Stone Fireplace and previously whitewashed our suburban brick fireplace.

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    Painted Fireplace DIY Supplies:

    How to Paint a Tile Fireplace:

    DIY painted ceramic tile fireplace

    1. Sand & Clean Mantel

    If you’re dealing with orange wood that saw its prime in the 80’s (not knocking it – my dad has the cabinets and rocks it) , you’re likely looking to paint that too. If so, sand that baby first. You don’t need to take it down completely to raw wood, but fully remove that shiny sheen.

    We used an electric sander but if we didn’t have access to that, I’d use these little sanding blocks because I pretty much hate the feel of sandpaper. I did give the tile a little rough up to help the paint adhere. For shinier tiles, I definitely would’ve sanded more.

    painted fireplace mantel

    2. Mask Off Tile Surround

    I covered the tile with plastic using painters tape. It seems kind of redundant but since I think it helped keep the lines clean and the overall finish smooth.

    I used this blue tape and it works best I’ve found after taping off almost every sqaure inch in this house. But going one step more than taping edges, I also covered the entire center with plastic. This was necessary since we used a paint sprayer, but I might do it if hand painting anyway just to be cautious.

    3. Paint the Mantel

    We sprayed the entire mantel with Sherwin Williams Pure White which is a touch warmer than our walls which are Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace. I don’t trust myself with a sprayer and would’ve done this step by hand.

    4. Clean Ceramic Tile Fireplace

    (Seems basic but oh so important!) You could really do this step after sanding, but for clarity’s sake I’m gonna put it right here. Either way, it’s super important. The tile must be cleaned from dust, dirt, and other crap that builds up from the 80’s.

    HOWEVER, you also want to make sure to use a non-residue cleaner so the paint adheres well after cleaning. I used a TSP (an old school cleaner that cuts through anything, but wish I would’ve gone with a more eco-friendly choice)

    how to paint a ceramic tile fireplace

    5. Tape Off Mantel

    So much taping and prepping. But really, isn’t that most of what painting is all about? Once the mantel has dried for a few days, go ahead and tape off that baby being careful to make smooth clean lines with the tape. Because we were in the middle of a full on remodel, I didn’t worry about the floors. Otherwise, be sure to cover and tape!

    painted ceramic fireplace
    finished fireplace – yay!

    6. Prime & Paint Ceramic Tile

    Time for the fun part! For this fireplace, I used a black paint that included a primer but if it hadn’t I definitely would’ve primed it separately first. Here, I used the foam rollers for a smooth finish (paint brushes might leave brush strokes on tile).

    I painted over the grout lines because I really wanted the most clean, minimal look possible.

    tile fireplace makeover with black and white paint

    There it is, easy! Let me know if you have any questions on my process and definitely let me know if you choose update your fireplace as well!

    tile fireplace makeover
    moving things in with Pete the cat 🙂

    5/20/2020 – So… here’s the update. Despite my best efforts at researching (trust me, it was hours), I ended up using a paint that I later learned is not officially recommended for tile -even though it was recommended to me by a paint professional. Cue failure soundtrack.

    However! It’s been well over a year and our fireplace is still looking good. Despite the paint snafu, I learned a lot from this project and am sharing all those tips! I would recommend just regular latex paint, like I used on my other fireplace projects.