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Can I Lay Tile Over Painted Concrete Floor?

Over the last several years, using ceramic or porcelain tile for flooring has become more and more popular. Often, while challenging, the process of laying tile is one that avid DIY’ers can usually handle independently. There are certain surfaces, though, where tile doesn’t do too well. But what about painted concrete floors?

You can lay tile over painted concrete floors, but the adhesive isn’t always reliable. If you choose to try anyway, remove the paint, grind the concrete, or resurface the floor first to ensure that the adhesive holds. This requires sanding, power washing, paint strippers, or soda blasting.

Tile floor installation

This article will talk a little more about each of these steps in detail. Hopefully, it’ll help you decide the best course of action you should take to prepare your painted concrete floor and get ready for your new ceramic tile.

How Do I Lay Tile Over Painted Concrete Floor?

Tile floor

Laying tile over a painted concrete floor isn’t the easiest or quickest tiling job you can do, but sometimes, there’s no avoiding it. If you’re working on a flooring job and get down to painted concrete, don’t panic; you can certainly still use your tile, and it’ll still look just as good when it’s finished.

However, you may have to do a little extra prep work before you can get down to the actual tile-laying part of the job. Otherwise, you’ll probably run into issues with the adhesive not sticking properly to the concrete. There’s also the possibility that the tiles will stick initially, but then they’ll start popping off with very little pressure or effort.

Do I Need To Prep Concrete Floor for Tile?

Tile floor installation

Prepping to lay tile on painted concrete could involve a few different things, but there’s definitely going to be some prep work involved.

How Do You Prepare a Concrete Floor for Tile?

The most common ways to prepare painted concrete for tiling are:

  • Removing the paint by sanding, blasting, power washing, or using paint strippers
  • Grinding the concrete to remove its upper level
  • Resurfacing the entire floor with a new material

There isn’t necessarily one method that’s better than the others. The right option for you depends mainly on how much time and money you have available and what kinds of tools you have at your disposal.

How To Remove Paint From Painted Concrete Before Tiling

Pressure washer black nozzle

Removing paint from concrete isn’t a complicated process, but it can be time-consuming. There are four main ways to remove paint from concrete surfaces:

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  • Soda blasting
  • Sanding
  • Paint strippers
  • Power washing

Let’s look at each of these a little more closely.

Soda Blasting

Soda blasting is one of the most effective ways of removing paint on a large scale. It’s also relatively safe and environmentally friendly, although it can be harmful to houseplants. Basically, soda blasting is just what it sounds like – blasting the concrete with a mixture of granular sodium bicarbonate, otherwise known as baking soda.

The baking soda’s granular makeup blasted at high pressure onto the concrete strips the paint away quickly and effectively. It’s very much like sandblasting, but it’s less abrasive and won’t damage the underlying concrete as badly as sandblasting could.

This method is a little more expensive than some of the others, and it requires a specific type of baking soda, like this 20-pound bucket of ALC Keysco baking soda. In other words, you can’t just pick it up on the baking aisle at Walmart.


Sanding the paint off the floor is a much cheaper option, but it’s also much more labor-intensive. Most people who use this method use an orbital sander to get the job done, which works better in smaller areas and isn’t ideal for large rooms. For large rooms, a similar process using a larger buffer could also work.

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Although he’s using a larger buffer, you can use the two tools in the same way.

Paint Strippers

Another convenient way to remove paint from concrete is with paint strippers, but just be sure you purchase the correct stripper for the type of paint you’re trying to remove. For example, there are strippers designed to remove water-based paint; other strippers are more for use with oil-based paint.

Like Super Remover’s New Generation Paint Stripper, others work for both types of paint, whether it’s oil- or water-based. If you’re stripping a floor that you didn’t paint yourself and aren’t sure what kind of paint the original painter used, this is one of the best paint strippers you can buy.

Paint strippers can take a few hours to work, and sometimes you may have to go over the area more than once. Still, on the whole, paint strippers are very effective at removing paint from concrete floors. Be aware that there’s often a bit of a mess left behind to clean up when the strippers have done their job, however.

Power Washing

Power washing — sometimes called pressure washing — is similar to soda blasting in many ways. It isn’t a great option if you’re dealing with interior floors, however. It works better for outdoor and patio surfaces because it practically floods the area with water, which isn’t something you want going on inside your house.

How To Grind Painted Concrete Before Tiling

Tile floor

Grinding paint from concrete is a similar process to sanding concrete, but it’s a little more abrasive, and grinding can end up taking the entire top layer off the concrete along with the paint.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though. It’s actually a great way to even up your floor, and it leaves the entire surface perfect for repainting, staining, or tiling.

How To Resurface Painted Concrete Before Tiling

Tile floor

The final option for dealing with a painted concrete floor is resurfacing it completely. Resurfacing usually means pouring a new layer of concrete down on top of it. You could choose to resurface it with some other type of material, but that’s going to be more work and more time. The easiest way is with more concrete.

Start by cleaning your floor and fixing any cracks, uneven spots, or other damages. Once you finish that, you can pour the resurfacer over the entire area. Make sure to give it plenty of time to set and dry. Then, you’ll have a perfectly new, clean, and clear surface with which to work.

Will Mortar/Thinset Stick to Painted Concrete?

Mortar bucket

It’s not impossible to find thinset or mortar that’ll stick to painted concrete, but it’s not the ideal situation, as I’ve already mentioned. A lot of times, the adhesive won’t stick at all. Other times, it’ll stick initially, but it won’t hold as tightly as it’s supposed to hold, and you’ll end up with your tiles popping off constantly.

That’s why it’s so important to put in the time and do all the necessary prep work before trying to lay your ceramic or porcelain tiles. It does take longer, and it may even cost you a little more money, but in the long run, you’ll end up saving much more by doing it right the first time.

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ReadyToDIY is the owner of this article. This post was published on April 8, 2021.

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