One of the previous owners of our new flat thought it'd be a good idea to paint the tiles in the toilet -- twice!

We've been using a paint scratcher to remove the paint

The problem: This takes too long (~120 tiles) and is tiring (as you need to use quite a bit of force and you take an inconvenient angle).

Thus we tried chemicals: Hydrochloric acid (no effect at all), graffiti remover (worked a bit, but generally made things messier/stickier).

I'm sure there is something we haven't thought of yet and gets the job done in a faster, less work intensive way.

Uh, yeah, and how do I get the paint out of the seam?

  • 4
    If you're up for it, re-tiling may have a faster/better result, and you get the pick the tile and grout that you want.
    – BMitch
    Aug 26 '11 at 11:42
  • 1
    @BMitch: Always a good answer... "If you can't get something off the wall, knock it down and build a new one!"
    – Tester101
    Aug 26 '11 at 12:10
  • 1
    Maybe the previous owner was MikeWills, he likes to paint tile.
    – Tester101
    Aug 26 '11 at 12:12

Try a heat gun, it will soften the paint and allow you to scrape it off more gently. Be sure to follow instructions for proper ventilation and material safety especially if there's any possibility of lead paint.

However, unless you're particularly in love with those tiles, tearing down and re-tiling will likely give you a better result in less time.

  • Yes, I am, so I pick your answer. Didn't think yet of the heat gun. Thanks for all the suggestions!
    – phw
    Aug 29 '11 at 13:56

You could use a proper paint stripper (with adequate ventilation). Something along the lines of Turpentine usually works well. For thick paint, the gummy/messy experience is not uncommon, as the upper layers have broken down while the lower hasn't. You can use the solvent to soften the paint and then scrape away what you can, and repeat until you're at the tile.

Organic solvents are pretty nasty, make sure you observe all the safety precautions.

Additionally I agree with the comment that re-tiling might be a more simple solution.


I used lacquer thinner and then scraping with a putty knife which didn't work that well. I then used a single edge razor blade which works quite well, and to get the small amount of paint left I used a Mr. Clean sponge dipped in the lacquer thinner. Lots of scraping, but it works well. It's lots of work and I'm seriously thinking about replacing the tile.

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