Last year I wrote a post about painting slate tiles. Since then, I have received numerous emails and private messages asking me about it. I thought I would share an update in 2023 about how it is holding up.
Slate Tile Before
If you haven’t seen the post, this is what my slate floor looked like before. I wasn’t originally planning on painting slate tiles, but something needed to be done with this floor. It is real slate but was ugly, yet also timeless. After contemplating what I wanted, I finally decided that I preferred the classic look of slate, just not the current color. I would keep the same tile, just paint the slate floors!
Our home is a Cape Cod style and the slate floor was original to the house, built in 1957. I really didn’t want to rip it out, so I decided to paint it using my Bungalow 47 Furniture Paint, which is a clay and chalk paint. This paint is not specifically made for flooring. But over the years, I’ve spilled quite a bit on the concrete floor of my warehouse where we distribute the paint. It hasn’t ever come up so I figured, why not?
I use this paint everyday and am confident in its abilities, but painting slate tiles was still an unknown. I’ve had a few retailers over the years tell me that they had painted tiles in their storefronts and it held up great. I figured I had nothing to lose. If it ended up being weird or not working, then I had plans to rip the floor out anyway, so this was worth a try.
How To Paint Slate Tiles
You can read about the entire process I did to painting the foyer floor here. Taking my time with it, I wanted it to cure properly. I also needed to work in stages as the floor I was painting is in the center of the house and the thoroughfare to everywhere.
Since I was only painting each slate tile, the grout lines were left as is. This definitely allowed the floor to look more authentic.
I’m pretty confident in my abilities when I start a project. I am a DIYer from way back. But I simply was not prepared for how this turned out! To say that I was surprised would be an understatement.
How It Turned Out
When I finished painting the slate tiles, I was completely gobsmacked! It looked so incredibly good and you simply could NOT tell that the tiles had been painted. Since I chose to paint each of the slate tiles, leaving the aged cement grout lines intact, it looked like it was original. I have a pretty steady hand from my decades of painting. Using the right brush is really important, and looking close up, you could not tell the floor had been painted!
I literally had to sit on the stairs and just admire it for a few hours, because I loved the transformation so much! The color was perfect (I used Tarnished Silver) and it worked great with my mostly blue and white scheme throughout the house.
Usage Over Time
When I first finished it, I decided to make sure it was fully cured before ever mopping it. I had sealed the floor using the Matte Finish from the Bungalow 47 Furniture Paint line, which is made to protect furniture. As you know, the usage a floor gets versus furniture is quite different. But I wanted to test my product this way and see how it would hold up.
I waited about 30 days for the painted slate and matte finish to fully cure before mopping the floor for the first time. This is longer than normal, but I was being cautious. The paint is generally fully cured in about 7 days.
I have mostly wood floors, so I tend to have a pretty dry mop anyway, as excess water isn’t great for a wood floor. The Matte Finish is a water and chemical resistant product so I figured it would do okay.
Verdict: it’s working great!
Using Throw Rugs
I am a lover of accessorizing in my decorating and always use rugs, especially in an entry near the door. As I mentioned, our entry room is one that is walked through all day long, as it is in the center of our home. Because of this traffic, I added another throw rug to catch any extra dust and grime before walking onto the hardwood.
I would have done this regardless of whether the floor was painted or not. Although I’m sure it aids in protecting the slate surface, it isn’t necessary. It is just a preference thing for me. Little flecks of dirt end up performing like fine grit sandpaper on my wood floor, so I use rugs to protect the wood more than the painted slate tiles. You can purchase the rug here.
Traffic It Gets
The whole floor is walked over continually throughout the day and night by us and a couple of dogs. Our home is often visited by family, adults and children alike, and we frequently have friends over. Of course, I am always dumping and or dragging Amazon packages across it as well. The first coat looks as pristine as it did the first day.
It has been about 14 months since I painted the floor and I have only had to do one repair, which was very easy. We do not baby this floor at all, and the entire floor still looks amazing.
While in the first days of the floor being painted, I hadn’t laid the rugs down yet. I was holding out a week or so, so that the floor paint could cure. Of course the paint was dry completely and could be walked on. However, someone must have had a rock stuck in the grooves of their shoe. As they entered the house, right near the front door, it scraped the paint on the slate tile in a small area. This is the most high traffic area in the room.
When I noticed it, I took action. I hadn’t put away all my paint and tools, so everything was handy. I simply sanded the surface of the individual slate tile, which did not remove the paint. Light sanding would create a good base so the new coat of paint would bond well. I cleaned the slate tile and applied just one coat of paint, making sure to cover the scratch. A second coat wasn’t really necessary, but could be done as well.
When the paint was dried, I buffed it with a dry cloth. Using a paint brush, I applied another coat of my clear acrylic sealer. Of course, I allowed it to dry completely before letting anyone walk on it again.
What Color To Use on a Slate Floor?
We have several colors that would look great on slate floors. Slate is a very porous stone and this type of paint works beautifully. The colors I would recommend are:
Tarnished Silver – this is the dark charcoal color I used. In my space, I do not notice a blue undertone to this color, but a few people have mentioned it.
Tin Can Camper – this is a very pale gray but would be pretty in a romantic space.
Metal Roof – this is a classic gray.
Fire Pit – this darker taupe would be perfect for a stone floor.
Iron Gate – this is a medium gray that has a khaki undertone. Looks great with lots of darker wood.
Pebblebrook – this is another medium gray that has a bit of a green undertone. It is the color of a natural stone.
I would suggest ordering a few different colors to sample before committing to your chosen color. We offer a 2 ounce sample for sale. Although this project is not difficult, it can be time consuming depending on the size of your floor. You definitely want to get the color right!
Maintenance for the Floor Paint
Other than the occasional mopping, there really is no maintenance other than fixing any scratches that might come up. But these do not happen often, as I’ve only had to do this one time in the last 14 months.
I may end up reapplying an even coating of Matte Finish again in a few years. This goes on quick using a roller brush. Slate floors can use a good sealing now and again. And yes, I do roll the clear Matte Finish over the grout. It all dries clear. If I go to the hassle of doing the project, I will probably apply a few coats of finish on the tiles using a thin layer of Matte Finish.
Other Product Options
If you like to mop with a soapy water mixture, then you may want to seal your floor with a finish that is meant for floors. Also a marine finish could cover the tile paint and allow frequent heavy water usage.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you need to use a primer?
I did not use a primer, but you could. Just make sure you don’t go too close to the edges near your grout, as you wouldn’t want to see it. Our primer dries clear, and could be used to increase adhesion, but not necessary. Primer is generally used to block stains that seep through wood, and that wouldn’t really be the case with stone.
Can you paint different colors?
If we’re talking about blending colors on each stone, sure you could do whatever you like. If you want to paint two coats, I would do the first even coat in your main solid color in a thin layer, then build up your blending on the second coat. My slate was painted in one single color on each stone. I did not paint the grout, and painted one heavy coat of paint.
Can you paint slate tiles on walls?
Yes, but I would not use this paint on shower walls or in the bathroom! For tile that is susceptible to frequent water, I would use epoxy paint.
Can you paint other stones besides slate?
Yes, stone is very porous and works great with this paint. You can paint most surfaces; wood, glass, metal, stone, concrete, fabric and more. If you aren’t sure, simply test a small area with a few coats and then try to scratch it off. With something as porous as stone, I only had to paint one coat as I was using a darker color.
Do you have to have a well ventilated area?
This paint, in the quantities you would use, is no VOC. It is labeled low VOC by law, but in the sizes it is sold in, it actually is no VOC. It has no paint smell, and is safe to use indoors.
Can I paint my grout lines?
This is a preference thing. I think the painted stone would look more authentic by not painting the grout. But you know how you want your floors to look, so again, preference.
Can I paint tile floors?
This depends on the tile. I would test it in an inconspicuous place, like inside a closet, or if you have a spare tile. The slicker the tile is may be problematic. You just want to make sure whatever coating is on the tile would let the paint adhere to it. Once again, if the tile is constantly wet, I would use an epoxy paint.
Slate is more porous than a regular tile floor and is a great candidate for the clay and chalk paint.
Could you spray paint a tile floor?
I would not recommend this. Spraying the entire floor would not look as authentic as brushing the slate stones. Although you can achieve an even coating, this would obviously cover the grout as well. I also would not use a spray on polyurethane to seal. Use something you need to brush or roller on for best coverage.
I have been asked many times, would you do it again? And my answer would always be a resounding YES! I love the way it looks, and it was certainly cheaper than having to replace a perfectly good floor that was just the wrong color for me.
If you were planning on tearing out the floor, this would be a fun option to try to see if you could save yourself some money. I’m glad I did it, and love that you would never know it was painted slate! For more decorating inspiration, follow me on Pinterest.
If you think you might want to paint a slate floor in the future, save this post on your Pinterest.