Hire a Pro Advice: Paint Wall Tile

Get help finding a painter to paint wall tiles and advice about what should be included in a contract between a painting contractor and homeowner. Design wise, there's some tips for choosing paint.

By Gene and Katie Hamilton

Even if you are considering painting wall tiles yourself, it's generally a good idea to get a couple of estimates from reputable painting contractors. If nothing else, you will find out what they recommend, in terms of preparation, type of paint and number of coats. You'll also get a pretty good idea of the number of man hours the painter's crew will require. From that you can judge how much time you will need to spend and compare that against the money saved. A friend or neighbor can be a good source for referral of a painter. "Painting Contractors" are listed in the Yellow Pages and many paint dealers recommend paint contractors who are their regular customers. Use an online contractor referral service or type "painter in (your city)" in the search box of a search engine like Big, Google or Yahoo. Make sure the contractor has a certificate of insurance and workers' compensation insurance, if he has employees.

Generally, the contractor will come to your house for an assessment of the job and its conditions, before quoting a price in a written proposal or contract.

Here are the basic points that should be included in a written contract for painting wall tiles with a painting contractor:

  • Specific room and amount of tiles to be painted
  • Total cost
  • Payment schedule
  • Start and completion dates
  • Paint and primer brands with grade, colors, gloss and base; how they'll be applied; and the number of coats
  • Type of caulk to be used and the extent of caulking to be done
  • Specific preparation and repair work to be completed
  • How the site will be protected from spills, splatters and over spray and who is responsible for removing them
  • Who is responsible for moving things and cleaning up

If the price seems reasonable and you are unsure about the painter's reputation, ask for several references and make follow-up calls to determine if the homeowners are happy with the contractor's work. These should be referrals for similar work. To inspect a paint job, look for signs of inadequate preparation, such as peeling and flaking paint, paint splatter and poor workmanship, including paint splatters on surrounding surfaces.

The sheen (finish) of paint ranges from flat, to eggshell (also called satin), to semi-gloss to gloss. For tile choose eggshell or semi-gloss because they have a nice sharp sheen. Both are less vulnerable to dirt and are easy to clean. If painting tile is part of redecorating a room, consider whether you want to call attention to the tile or make it part of the background. Choose a bold and contrasting color to make the tile the center of attention, and a more subtle shade if it's a backdrop for the rest of the wall covering.