How to Paint Porcelain

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Bring new life to old porcelain items by giving them a new pop of color or by simply refinishing the old paint. Whether you want to do a small project or are looking into refinishing your large bathroom fixtures and walls, learning how to paint porcelain can be a daunting task, but it can save you money in the long run.

​The Best Paint for Porcelain

When it comes to painting porcelain, your best choices are between an epoxy or an enamel paint. This is because these two specific paints will harden and be water, chemical and abrasion resistant.


Well known for how well it sticks to various surfaces, ​epoxy paint​ will generally come in two packages, the paint and the reactor/hardener. The reactor is what allows the epoxy paint to harden and become resistant to damage. If you are looking for the ​best bathtub paint​, then epoxy is a highly recommended choice.

When you are ready to paint, you will mix the hardener into the paint and paint it as you normally would. You can use a brush, a roller or a squeegee to apply epoxy paint. If you use a paint sprayer, check the instructions booklet​ to make sure that the ​paint is compatible​ with your appliance.

paint brushes to paint porcelain wall


This oil based paint is widely recognized for it’s hard, glossy and opaque finish. You can opt for a water based enamel paint however, the oil based variety is better known for it’s longevity. Water based enamel paint is easier to work with because it dries faster and is easier to clean.

When it comes to choosing ​which type of enamel you should use,​ it is best to know that water based paints are the go to for basic projects. Oil based enamel should be used with projects that will need to hold up to constant wear and harsh indoor or outdoor conditions.

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Choosing and knowing your paint is the biggest step you will take with preparing for painting porcelain. Different paints can require different top or bottom coats as well as a possible finishing agent.

Take the time to speak with a paint professional at your local home improvement store to make sure that you are picking the right paint for your project.

How to Paint ​Porcelain

​Painting Your Bathtub, Sink and Toilet

You could ​replace your older plumbing appliances​ and shell out hundreds to thousands of dollars for new stuff plus the labor to have them installed. Or you could pocket most of that cost and freshen up your bathroom with some hard work and a new coat of paint.

When your bathtub is starting to chip or if the color is looking older, you can repaint it or re-tile it ​to bring back it’s modern look. This is also the case if your bathroom has the dated pastel colored appliances look and you would like to paint them white.

There is some elbow grease required to prep and paint your bathroom sink, toilet and bathtub but the results are worth it in the end.

Savogran 10622 Trisodium Phosphate (TSP) 4.5lbs
  • Use TSP to clean surfaces after using paint/varnish removers
  • Preferred by painting and cleaning professionals
  • Removes smoke and soot stains from walls
  • “Clumping” or caking of product can be remedied by dissolving in hot water
  1. Clean the surface of your plumbing appliance with a good household cleaner like Trisodium Phosphate (TSP)​. This is not an everyday cleaner since it can dull the shine, but it is perfect for cleaning before painting to remove soap scrum and grime.
  2. Sand the surface thoroughly with a medium grit sandpaper. This will smooth out any chipping paint.
  3. ​Replace the medium grit sandpaper with a fine grit and sand the entire surface to smooth it out
  4. Wipe down your plumbing fixture with a damp rag to remove the sanding dust and any other debris.
  5. You will need to apply some type of bond or etching agent to pre-prime the porcelain to accept the paint. If you skip this step then your paint will eventually peel off.
  6. When the surface is dry it is time to apply a primer. For bathtubs, sinks and toilets epoxy is recommended due to it’s hardening and resistance against daily wear and tear. Use thin coats of paint and even lined brush strokes ​if you can. Otherwise, you can check out our reviews of affordable paint sprayers to see if you would prefer those.
  7. ​Once dry, sand the entire surface with a fine grit sandpaper to smooth out any rough areas or uneven lines.
  8. ​Apply a second thin coat of primer and once dry sand it lightly again to smooth lines.
  9. When you are satisfied with the color then you will apply a coat of acrylic topcoat. Work in one direction with a high quality brush. You will apply two to three layers of this topcoat. Allow it to fully dry in between coats.
  10. You will need to let the paint fully cure for seven days before heavy use. You can lightly shower, it is just not suggested to use bleach or other strong cleaning products on your fixtures until completely cured.

This project will take a full day to complete mainly because you will be waiting for each coat to dry before reapplying. Make sure that you are keeping the area well ventilated by running the bathroom fan, opening windows and keeping the doors open as well to allow the air to flow through.

white porcelain bath tub how to paint porcelain

Painting Over Glazed Ceramic

A glaze is a clear acrylic solution that is used to make the paint more transparent. Most glazes are water based ​that will not cause any issues if you want to paint over it.

You will follow the same prepping steps to clean and prepare your ceramic surface for a fresh coat of paint. Make sure that you use a primer to give your new paint the right base.

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Always allow your coats to completely dry in between to make sure the paint does not clump together or chip. Paint that is not fully dried will also give your tiled walls ​​​an uneven look.


Learning how to paint porcelain can sometimes be a big task to take on. Whether you are new to DIY or are an old pro, if you do your research before going into the project then you can succeed and save yourself a lot of money by refreshing your furniture and appliances instead of replacing them.

An expert at home repair, remodel, and DIY projects for nearly 40 years. His first experience came in completely restoring an antique home. Completely redone from the inside out, and restored to its original form, the home is a featured design by renowned Southern California Architect Cliff May, considered to be the father of the California Ranch Home. Now Dennis spends his time on fine woodworking projects and tool comparisons.