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I want to preserve the look and finish of the chipping paint on my antique tin tiles. Basically, I want to use them for creating a backsplash in my kitchen (behind stove and sink areas as well as the walls) and want the chippy paint look which is currently on the tiles, but need the surface to be sealed and protected. Can you advise what I should use? Thank you....

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  • Would putting them behind a sheet of glass be an option?
    – spuck
    Nov 23, 2022 at 17:21

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Any sort of "clear" finish, be it lacquer, polyurethane, epoxy or other should do quite nicely to seal in the paint and patina.

Depending on the amount of tile you have to cover and your painting skills, I'd suggest spraying instead of brushing or rolling. Spraying (even with "rattle cans" of spray paint) make it easy to get a nice, smooth, even finish on the textured tin panels, spraying from all sides to ensure all angles of the texturing get covered, while eliminating the possibility of brush marks.

Obviously, you can't spray epoxy, and you may or may not be able to get poly in a spray can, but you can purchase inexpensive spray equipment that'll run it, or rent equipment.

If the tiles aren't already installed, I'd suggest that you individually coat them outdoors where you don't have to worry about overspray or smells, then install them with their final coating.


I congratulate you for saving these old tiles and reusing them! I think leaving them partially painted and patinaed will look fantastic.

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For a DIYer I would get a water based polyurethane clear at your local big box home improvement store and roll or brush it on. Water based is easy clean up. Your choice of sheen. do 3 medium coats.

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  • I would lean toward "glossy". In my experience, the agents used to dull semigloss and matte transparent finishes also reduce their transparency, hiding details and desaturating colors. Of course you can get small cans of all three and test them on a spare tile to see which look you like best.
    – keshlam
    Jul 21, 2023 at 20:26

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