Paints & Coatings Resource Center

Ask the Expert Question-and-Answer Archive

by Ron Joseph

October, 2005

Preparation and Coatings for Tile and Stairs

Q. I am in need of PREPARATION and PRODUCT CHOICE info for two painting projects. I am in the process of preparing to paint over the Mexican (Saltillo) tile - VERY POROUS TILE - of my foyer floor as well as the oak stairs which have been dark-stained and have a Minwax high-gloss polyurethane coat on them. (1) As far as preparing the foyer floor, I have been advised to strip it and the RE-seal it BEFORE painting so the paint does not seep into the tile since this is a very porous tile. (I was thinking of using Aldon Chemical's premium floor stripper.) How do you recommend preparing this type of floor for a SPECIFIC product that you might recommend (I am assuming an oil-based and/or urethane enamel is the best product)? (2) As far as preparing the stairs, again, how do you recommend preparing the stairs for a SPECIFIC product that you might recommend without stripping down to bare wood (again: I am assuming an oil-based and/or urethane enamel is the best product)?

A. Typically for a stone or concrete paint application we recommend cleaning the surface extremely well with a good strong detergent, acid etch if required, and apply the required coating. I don't know that resealing it with a stone sealer would be such a good practice.

Since this is typically a high traffic area, my best recommendation for a good quality system for the foyer tile is to use an epoxy primer and a polyurethane top coat. These are industrial use coatings. I recommend that you seek out a supplier of industrial quality paints and coatings. (Ameron, Rust Oleum, or Sherwin Williams etc.), Visit with them, explain what you intend to do, tell them what type of tile that you have and ask for product and application recommendations. They may be able to assist in locating a qualified applicator for you.

As for the stairway, clean the surface extremely well and sand the entire surface to be painted with a 220 or 320 grit sand paper. Be certain to remove all sanding dust prior to application of any coating, and wipe the surface clean with a damp rag. If you select a polyurethane type or an oil base paint in a light or white color, you may experience yellowing of the coating. I recommend that you also discuss this with the folks at the paint supply center.

When preparing any surface for the application of paints or coatings, be certain to take precautions to protect against breathing in any air borne dust particles or debris that may be created by the prep work.

Please be aware that paints, coatings and solvents are chemicals and therefore you should always pay attention to proper handling procedures and be prepared to wear protective clothing, such as respirators, gloves, coveralls, etc. For further information on the health and safety requirements for the coatings and solvents you wish to use we strongly advised you to contact your local coating supplier. If possible, go the extra step and look for this information on the website of the product vendor.


Jim Burke

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