Can a Worn-Out Toilet Bowl be Painted? (From Inside)

can you paint a toilet inside

When trying to improve upon the appearance of your bathroom, getting rid of unsightly stains is likely high on your to-do list, including painting the toilet.

It is possible to paint over a stained toilet bowl, but you’ll need to follow a few steps to complete this process.

Everything should be done strategically, from cleaning it to sanding it to choosing the right type of paint and then applying the paint to the toilet bowl from the inside.

Worry not; if you haven’t done it ever before, I’ll outline the six easy steps you need to take to complete the job.

Painting a Toilet Bowl and Seat

One of the most common issues that individuals have concerning painting a toilet is if the bowl is stained because it has not been cleaned periodically.

So, the bowl from the inside will have to be cleaned before anything else.

There are many cleaning products out there that claim to be able to remove the stain, but they aren’t always foolproof if the staining is severe.

Fortunately, painting the bowl is an option to give it a new appearance.

The steps for painting the scratched bowl are the same as painting the rest of the toilet, and like any other type of painting job, you’ll want to make sure you have all of the proper materials for the job on hand.

The supplies you’ll need include:

  • Face mask
  • Eye protection
  • Paint
  • 120-160 grit sandpaper
  • Painters tape
  • Clear topcoat or sealant if you’re using spray paint
  • Dropcloth or newspaper
how to paint a toilet bowl inside

STEP 1. Clean the Toilet

Before starting, you’ll need to ensure the toilet is nice and clean. The paint won’t adhere to the surface if there is dirt and grime in place.

Clean both the outside and inside with whatever you would usually use to clean the toilet.

Afterward, flush it to make sure it’s rinsed out. While you are cleaning the toilet, take off the toilet seat. This can be done by unscrewing the bolts that secure it in place.

You may be able to do this with your fingers, or you may have to use a wrench or pair of pliers to accomplish the task.

After the seat is removed, clean in and around the holes that held the bolts, and be sure to clean away any mineral deposits or rust that may have built up.

STEP 2. Drain the Water

To ensure the paint will stick properly, you’ll need to be sure the toilet is dry. To do this, you’ll first need to drain the water from the bowl. This can be done in one of two ways.

a) Turn Off the Water

The best way to ensure that the toilet is dry is to just shut off the water completely to the tank.

Do this by looking for the water hookup that leads to the tank. Turn the valve on the pipe, most likely to the right, to shut off the water flow. This will stop it from refilling and will ensure the bowl stays dry as you paint.

Once you’ve turned off the water, you can remove the lid on the tank to make sure it isn’t refilling. Flush the toilet again to get rid of the water in the tank.

If the water is refilling, you may have turned the valve in the wrong direction and will need to go back and turn it the other way.

Flushing the toilet might not get all of the water out of the bowl. If you still see water in there, you can try to flush it again with the valve CLOSED. If only a small amount of water is left, you can use towels to clean it up.

b) Raise the Tank Float

If you can’t locate the shut-off valve for the water, you can use the tank float method instead.

Remove the lid from the tank that sits against the wall. Find the item that looks like a small balloon attached to a stick known as the tank float.

Once the water level in the tank has lowered, the float will do the same. After it gets to a certain level, the water input is triggered to allow for more water to refill in the tank.

To stop this, you only need to prevent the tank float from dropping down to the bottom of the tank. This can be done by somehow keeping the float attached to the top of the tank or by putting something beneath the float to prevent it from dropping.

After the float is secured, you can flush the toilet twice to remove the water. This might not completely remove every drop of water, so you’ll need to clean up the rest with a towel.

STEP 3. Sand the Toilet Inside

After draining the toilet, you’re ready to get down to business.

Since porcelain is quite slick, no paint will cling to it unless you roughen the surface a bit. This is what the sandpaper is for.

Before you begin the process, it is recommended that you put on a face mask to prevent inhaling any tiny bits of porcelain that will be kicked up.

You’ll also want to ensure the area you are painting in has good ventilation. Do this by opening a window, keeping the door open, and turning on a fan, if possible.

Afterward, using 210-160-grit sandpaper, you can begin to sand the porcelain. You’ll need to make the surface of the bowl rougher just enough to ensure the paint is going to stick.

You don’t need to use sandpaper for too long to accomplish this. It should only take a few strokes to get it ready.

Once you have sanded the bowl, you will notice the toilet bowl is covered in porcelain dust. Because of this, you’ll need to clean the toilet once again before priming and painting.

STEP 4. Apply a Primer to the Toilet Bowl

After the toilet is cleaned again, you will have to wait until the bowl is dried completely before you apply the primer.

If you are eager to begin, you could use a hairdryer to help hasten the drying process. As it dries, you can get everything ready to paint.

First, be sure you cover up anything that you don’t want to be painted using a drop cloth, plastic or newspaper, and some painter’s tape. This includes the floor, walls, and any cabinets that are near the toilet.

Be sure to cover the bolts that secure the toilet to the floor, the handles, and the plumbing pipes connected to the tank.

If setting this up isn’t something you want to do, you could also remove the toilet and take it outside to paint it. This creates a lot of work and is also not feasible if you live in an apartment.

Once you have finished preparing and drying the toilet, it’s time to apply the primer. Simply paint it on, and then let it dry completely. Ensure the entire toilet is well-coated before continuing.

STEP 5. Paint the Toilet from the Inside

Once the toilet is primed, it is time to apply the main coat of paint.

Once more, be sure the toilet seat and the bowl are entirely dry before you begin. Then, get ready to apply the epoxy or spray paint.

Much like with any kind of painting project, it’s likely that you’ll need more than one coat of paint. In this case, be sure that the toilet is completely dry in between the coats of paint.

If you choose spray paint, wearing a face mask is a good idea so you aren’t inhaling the particles while you work.

Wearing a mask if you are using epoxy paint is also a good idea, as you can reduce the paint fumes that you breathe in.

If you do use spray paint and need to apply a clear epoxy coat to the bowl, double-check that it is totally dry before you apply it to ensure that it sticks.

It is best to let the paint dry for at least a few hours.

In an ideal situation, you would be able to let the toilet dry overnight by using another toilet.

This is easier to do if you have an extra bathroom in the house, but if not, you can always go to a friend’s or neighbor’s house or head to a nearby coffee shop and use theirs.

STEP 6. Refill with Water in the Toilet

After the topcoat has completely dried, the project is officially finished. Be extra sure that the paint is completely dry so that the water doesn’t compromise the paint.

This is especially true if you add any kind of epoxy topcoat. You can refill the toilet when you’re satisfied with the painting project.

First, remove whatever you used to keep the float up. Turn the water back on by turning the lower valve in the opposite direction to enable the water to re-enter.

Give the toilet a flush, and you should be good to go.

best paint for a toilet bowl

What Kind of Paint Do You Use to Paint a Toilet?

There are a few kinds of paint that you can use to paint a toilet seat and a bowl.

Mostly, you’ll want to have an acrylic latex primer to apply first, followed by epoxy paint for the main coat.

Epoxy paint is used mostly to offer a fresh, touched-up look, so it is usually made in shades like black, gray, and white.

If you aren’t happy with the color options, you could also opt for a typical can of spray paint, such as those developed by Rust-Oleum.

With spray paint, you can paint the toilet any color you like; plus, it is very easy to apply, and it dries quickly too.

If you opt for epoxy paint, that’ll be the only one you need. If you go with spray paint, you will also need to apply a clear epoxy topcoat.

This will ensure the color you choose stays in place while also making the toilet waterproof.

Depending on your choice, using proper paint and primer is crucial in ensuring the result comes out how you want it to.

No matter the kind of paint you end up working with, you’ll need to be sure that the area where you will be painting has good ventilation. This is especially true for those who are using spray paint.

Indoors, this means turning on the bathroom fan, leaving the door open, and opening a window if possible.

It is also a good idea to put on a face mask, especially if you are using spray paint.

This will add another layer of protection to prevent you from breathing in paint fumes and particles, which could harm your lungs.

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