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Bathroom floor tiles go through a lot. Not only do they sustain wear and tear from constant traffic, but they also regularly come in contact with water and heavy-duty cleaners that can cause discoloration and changes over time. If your tiles have been bearing this kind of abuse for long enough, chances are you’re considering refinishing them but aren’t sure whether that’s the best move.
Bathroom floor tiles can be refinished if they’re made of ceramic and have minor, surface-level damage. However, tiles made of clay and vinyl, or those that have sustained significant damage or are too old may require replacement instead.
If your bathroom floor tiles look a little worse for wear, you don’t have to live with them anymore.
The rest of this article will go into what you need to know if you want to take on a ceramic floor tile refinishing project, including when replacing them might be the right choice.
Refinishing and Repainting: The Difference
If you want to improve the look of your bathroom floor tiles, you might think repainting them and refinishing them are close enough to the same thing that they’re practically interchangeable.
However, these two processes are quite different.
Repainting will just cover the tiles in their current condition. This is a great, fast option if the only problem you have with your tiles is their color. However, unlike walls, floors tend to go through more wear, affecting how long a paint job will last.
On the other hand, refinishing is a longer process that aims to improve the look of your tiles by fixing any discoloration (including repainting, if you wish), scuffs, and superficial damage through different chemical steps.
You’ll need to get primer, bonder, and finishing coats and glazes to properly refinish on your own. While you’ll need more time to do it, the final product should last much longer than a regular paint job if you make sure to follow all the steps.
Deciding Whether to Refinish or Replace Your Bathroom Tiles
Replacing your tiles is much more expensive and time-consuming than refinishing, and isn’t always necessary. However, refinishing your floor tiles may not be enough in some situations.
If you know you want to improve your bathroom floor tiles, but you don’t know whether you should replace or refinish them, here’s what you need to consider.
The Current Condition of Your Tiles
If your floor tiles are chipped, worn down until they’re uneven, cracked, or scratched on more than the surface level, that can all affect the overall condition of your tiles. That sort of damage is likely too severe for refinishing.
If this is the case, replacing your tiles might be the best solution.
Whether the Problems are Superficial
If your tiles are in good condition but just have some surface-level problems that make them visually look a little lackluster, then replacing them is probably unnecessary.
Superficial wear and tear can be fixed by refinishing. It’s a more cost-effective solution that should last about as long as replacing tiles with similar ones.
Deciding Whether to Refinish Bathroom Floor Tiles on Your Own
If you’ve decided that refinishing your tiles is the solution for you, you might be torn between calling someone to do the work for you or doing the project yourself.
Here are some things to consider:
The Size of the Project
Refinishing the floors of a half-bath and a master bathroom are two very different projects. Even if you feel comfortable with a DIY project, the time you need to set aside for a larger bathroom might be worth calling an expert. So the real question here is, do you have the time?
Your DIY Experience
Have you or someone you know ever done a home improvement project on your own? Particularly one involving tiles?
You might feel like refinishing your bathroom tiles is something you can do without much trouble. But if you don’t have much experience, you should really evaluate whether or not you have the skills and patience required to do the work.
It’s not just your skillset you need to consider. You also need to assess your risks.
If someone you hire makes a mistake, you’ll likely have a warranty or number you can call to have everything fixed for you. If you make a mistake, fixing it will be your responsibility. Worst case scenario, you might need to restart the whole process. Are you ready for that kind of responsibility and the costs that come with it?
This is one of the last things you should consider. But if you feel like you have the skills you would need to complete the project and are just debating time vs cost, your budget might be a deciding factor.
Making it a DIY project will cost a lot less than calling a professional. You’ll only have to factor in the cost of supplies. If you think budget should be a factor in your decision to resurface your tiles, you can take a closer look at the average costs of this project at Home Advisor.
Calling a professional to refinish your bathroom tiles for you will cost more, no matter how low of an estimate you get. Still, you likely won’t have to supply any equipment yourself, and you don’t have to worry about doing everything perfectly on your own.
It’s also important to consider the short-term vs. long-term implications of DYing. While refinishing your floors by yourself may save you money short term, you’ll end up spending more long term if you have to hire someone to fix any mistakes you make.
Can All Bathroom Floor Tiles Be Resurfaced?
Ceramic floor tiles are the most common for bathrooms. So when I say that bathroom floor tiles can be resurfaced, it’s easy to assume that that applies to all types. However, that’s not necessarily true.
Not all floor tiles can be resurfaced. Tiles made of clay or vinyl usually can’t be resurfaced without sustaining damage. And while tiles with carved designs can be resurfaced, they rarely regain their original look.
So before you start making calls or buying what you need to refinish your bathroom floor, ensure that your tiles are made of ceramic or another material that can be refinished.
Your floor tiles can make or break the look of your bathroom. While worn tiles can be an eyesore, you don’t have to replace them if they aren’t damaged. If your bathroom tiles are made of ceramic, and their imperfections are minor and surface-level, then you can refinish your tiles instead.
Whether you choose to do the project yourself or hire a professional, refinishing your bathroom tiles isn’t only possible, but it’s also a practical way to revitalize your bathroom.
- Miracle Method: Ceramic Tile Refinishing
- Home Advisor: 2022 Cost of Ceramic Tile Refinishing
- Showers to You: How To Revive Bathroom Tiles Without Replacing Them
- Home Guides: How to Reglaze Tile
- Apartment Therapy: How to Refinish Tile
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Giovanni Valle is an architect, designer, internet entrepreneur, and the managing editor of various digital publications including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place. He is the founder of BuilderSpace LLC.