When homeowners are faced with the prospect of remodeling a home’s interior, they often feel that the cost of updates prohibits them from making any changes at all. Improvements are not always an expensive endeavor, however. Sometimes, a small DIY project can have big results.

Tile, while durable, may be outdated or not to the current homeowner’s taste. Fortunately, there are many ways it can be updated that don’t require a total gut and redo, opening up a wide variety of options for floors, backsplashes, and more.

Consider a Stencil
Stencils have been reimagined to reflect current design trends. No longer made from flimsy plastic, stencils are a great option for updating your tile. Achieving the look of colored grout lines is also possible using a high-tack grout line stencil tape before beginning the project.

If you decide to stencil your tile, you should consider watching a few how-to videos online. There are multiple steps to achieving this look and many opinions about the best way to complete the task.

Pick the Right Products
Royal Design Studio offers stencils for many projects, from furniture and walls to tiled floors, fireplace surrounds, backsplashes, and even concrete patios. If you can imagine it, you can stencil it! Each stencil is laser cut from reusable Mylar plastic sheets. With hundreds of designs to choose from, it is easy to incorporate a look with your home’s décor. Other companies offer stencils as well, but in our research, Royal Design Studio stencils were the most widely used.

Choosing the right paint for the job has never been easier. Paint companies have developed products that include primer for better adhesion, although it is recommended to lightly sand tile before painting. Most sources also suggest that two coats of primer be applied before you paint, regardless of whether or not primer is included in your paint.

Companies have also come up with specific products for the type of project you’re working on. Rustoleum offers Chalked Ultra Matte paint in various colors for a matte finish reminiscent of cement tiles. Behr offers Porch & Patio floor paint that holds up well to foot traffic. High gloss enamel paints are a good option for changing the look of a backsplash while also making a surface highly durable and easy to clean.

A sponge roller and paint tray, stencil and paintbrushes, rags, drop cloth, and polyurethane round out the supplies you’ll need to complete this type of project.

Add a Decorative Element
Another way to refresh a tiled surface is to incorporate custom art tiles into the existing plan.  The addition of artistic tiles may be an option for homeowners looking to add a distinctive touch. Rather than remove all tile in a kitchen or bath, you could choose to replace just a few tiles for a specific design.

 Colleen Crowley is the senior project designer at Motawi Tileworks in Ann Arbor. She offers some suggestions for incorporating art tiles into the design.

“Our team can create design concepts to freshen up existing tile installations with Motawi tiles or create an entirely new design for a space. One way to do this is to add a horizontal tile border to the top of an existing wainscot,” Crowley said.

Art tiles can also be used to create a focal point.

“Another option is to replace a specific and significant area of existing tile with a new tile panel or mural piece. For example, focusing on the area between the stove and the hood in a kitchen or cutting in a horizontal border.”

Unless you have experience removing and replacing tile, this sort of project is probably better left to the professionals.

“Our biggest concern would be the installations where some existing tile must be removed. It is difficult to remove installed tile without damaging the adjacent tiles, so getting that clean edge could be a challenge.”

Clean It Up
Finally, another way to bring new life to old tile is to have it professionally cleaned. Many companies offer services to clean and repair tile, replace grout, and even change tile colors. A tile restoration company can breathe new life into old tile and give it a like-new appearance at a fraction of replacement cost.