How to use tile stickers, paint and stencils to cover old tiles

Nathan Law

Retiling is a big task, and if yours are in good condition it’s hard to justify tearing them down just because they’re not to your taste. Whether you’re tired of your choice, want to update to go with new decor, or dislike existing tiles, there are several options to hide […]

Retiling is a big task, and if yours are in good condition it’s hard to justify tearing them down just because they’re not to your taste. Whether you’re tired of your choice, want to update to go with new decor, or dislike existing tiles, there are several options to hide them… in as little as an hour.

Tile Stickers

Our first suggestion is the fastest and completely reversible, making it ideal for those constantly redecorating. Tile stickers are quick, cheap and have limitless options.

We spoke to Emma and Jamie, the couple who design, print and sell Wall Genie tile stickers, to find out exactly how these thin vinyl stickers hold their own.

This Wall Genie customer combined marble stickers with painted cupboard doors and new counter tops to transform this kitchen.

Wall Genie

The process is remarkably simple; thoroughly clean your tiles and grout with something that cuts through grease without harsh chemicals (washing liquid will work). Any grease or residue can compromise the adhesive. Then peel… and stick.

“Position them centrally [checking the corners all line up and flatten out from the middle to squeeze out any air bubbles with a squeegee,” instructs Emma, emphasising the importance of making sure they’re clean and free of any contaminants like dust to insure a; “lovely smooth finish.”

The cost? A pack of 30 is just £12.99, getting cheaper in bulk.

tile stickers

This colourful tile really lifts this grey and cream kitchen.

Wall Genie

The company’s stickers are 1mm smaller than labelled, this is so there’s a 0.5m edge all round, making sure the sticker doesn’t go over the edge of the tile and onto the grout.

Jamie says bad positioning is the main mistake people make: “Either they’ve got their size wrong, or they’ve position them so they’re overlapping the grout. The moisture will get straight under that and it will start to curl.”

If your tiles are a rare size you can contact about custom adjustments. As long as you get the size right and apply properly Wall Genie say they’ve had customers send delighted photos of five-year-old stickers still looking great.

They’re waterproof and suitable for kitchen and bathroom, and while they aren’t recommended to be used in direct line of heat, they are safe to use near ovens.

Aftercare is key, the team say to avoid alcohol based cleaners as these will damage the print. Fairy liquid is your best friend. Then to remove you can just peel them off. Heat from a hot damp cloth or a hairdryer makes that process painless.

Without the labour, or cost, you can use tiles to create such character; for one eye-catching area, a guest bathroom sink splash back, or a whole wall.

“You’ve got some that will suit real Mediterranean style or old Victorian houses, country cottage types, and then you’ve got far newer modern designs,” said Jamie.

tile stickers

They’re brilliant for fireplaces too, to turn it them into the charming feature that’s just so your style.

Wall Genie

With so many options to choose from Emma had some tips for picking your stickers: “Find something coloured that you really like in your kitchen, a kettle or something, work with the colours you’ve got, and go from there.”

Other things to remember in your tile choice is the 0.5mm border, if your original tile is something like a bright yellow, Emma recommends choosing a pattern with yellow in it, as there will be a faint line. The team advise ordering a sample to see what the finish looks like.

“They do offer really good opaque coverage because they are printed onto white vinyl. But we would definitely recommend getting a sample sticker if you’re planning on putting them on a dark colour, or over a bold pattern, as it could show through ever so slightly,” said Emma.

A must: Over order at least 10 and keep them in the packet flat in a drawer. And then six months time if you damage one with a scratch or a product, you can replace it.

Some of the designs on offer from Wall Genie and sister brand Tile Stickers 4 U

Self Adhesive Tiles

If your tiles aren’t in the best condition, self adhesive 3D tiles might be for you. They come joined in sheets of around six and you stick them over existing tiles. They’re sold online, in DIY shops and even pound stores.

The team at Wall Genie don’t sell them, but recommend them in some cases: “If you’ve got tiles that are really textured, or in bad state, you’re better going for the 3D tiles; they’ll cover everything. That would be where we direct those people,” said Jamie.


Capri Sea Glossy 3D Wall Decal, 12 pack, £28 (72 tiles)


With Emma explaining: “3D tiles are designed to cover all imperfections, whereas our stickers complement existing tiles.”

Just swipe to look at what these white self-adhesive tiles are covering…

Tile Paint

Many don’t know that you can actually paint tiles. Lots of brands have paints developed especially for them.

Award winning home blogger Kel Harmer of Oh So Kel decided to give it a try and in just one weekend had transformed her family bathroom.

“We really wanted a low cost quick solution for the bathroom to keep us going until we can replace it properly in a few years time,” explained Kel, “Weighing up the mess, time and cost of pulling off all of the tiles and then re-tiling them VS painting over our existing ones… there was no contest!”

tile stickers

Kel’s bathroom was beautiful before and after, but can you believe those are the same tiles?

Oh So Kel

Kel opted for Ronseal’s Mellow Green Satin tile paint to cover existing brown tile: “I really wanted the space to feel spa-like with a boho touch so fell in love with the green over perhaps more predictable safer choices.”

Options like painting do allow you to make those bolder choices as it is less expensive and permanent than new tiles.

tile stickers

Oh So Kel

Kel got these results with two thin coats of paint with, with coat one allowed to fully dry before coat two, and finished up with a white grout pen to go over the painted grout.


BUY NOW Ronseal One Coat Tile Paint Mellow Green Satin 750ml, £21.99, Homebase

The trickiest bits to do were the edges (have plenty of masking tape to hand) and going over the grouting afterwards.

Tile Stencils

Now this method is a little more time consuming than the stickers or paint, BUT if you enjoy getting hands on and creative this will be an incredibly rewarding process with results you will be showing off to anyone who steps in your door.

This content is imported from Instagram. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

Swipe for the ‘before’s!

We spoke to Jasmin Sharpe from UK stencil brand Dizzy Duck for their top tips for getting it right.

She began with the importance of planning and prep. Like ordering a stencil 2mm smaller than your tile: “That will make sure you don’t get any paint into your grout lines and make the tile look authentic, clean and neat.” And practicing first with a cereal box, your stencils and paints, to nail that finish and master your technique.

Prepping the wall is vital too: “It’s so important for durability, we think it’s the most important step. If you paint onto a dirty surface or one that’s not porous, the paint will just chip and peel [unless using tile paint],” said Jasmin, explaining that you should sand tiles down for grip, make sure they’re clean and apply a quality primer before you get started.

    This content is imported from Instagram. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

    Another mistake is too much paint. Whether using a brush or roller the amount needed is “miniscule” according to Jasmin who says for crisp clean lines you only want to;”kiss the surface”.

    Once you’ve prepped and got started, one of the companies biggest tips is to start with full tiles. Jasmin advised: “Tackle full tiles first, then when you get round to going round plug sockets, sinks, showers, sometimes you can bend your stencil to fit, or you might need to cut them; so save those for last.” Dizzy Duck stencils come in packs of two for this very reason.

    Another tip? Not to be hung up on perfection: “When your nose is practically touching the tiles and you’re zoned in on your project, all those tiny imperfections look massive, but take a step back, look at the bigger picture; you’ll see it looks fantastic.”

      You can wet wipe your stencils clean between each tile but Jasmin says the only time you really need to clean is if your lines start to go blurry, as that means you have a build up of paint. Soak in hot soapy water and use the second stencil while it dries.

      This content is imported from Instagram. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

      Tile paint would save some of the prep, but you can use emulsion for the base colour and stencilling as long as you seal it all with 3-4 coats of strong varnish. Follow the instructions on coats, drying, temperature and curing to the letter; “If you don’t it will likely compromise the finish and lifespan,” explained Jasmin.

        Shop Dizzy Duck Stencils here…

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