How to Paint Barker Board

Thanks for sharing!

Sometimes barker board (also called tile board) can date the look of the room. Read about the simple steps of how to paint barker board to completely change the look of a space.

I just finished the very first project of our bathroom renovation.  (Yippee!!)

The last time I gave you an update, I was diving headfirst into this:


I was on a mission to do something about the look of the “tile” above the tub.  Although it appears to be tile (from the 70s’ era?) it is actually a product called barker board.  It is sometimes called tile board and can be purchased here in Canada at Lowe’s and Home Depot.  In contrast to my lovely harvest gold and green accents, it now it comes in pretty white subway tile looks.   It’s meant to be used in bathrooms as an alternative to tile and grout and I do think it’s a pretty neat product.

I’ve found that it functions quite well and cleans up really nicely.  I was just weary of the dated look.  A painter friend of mine once said that anything can be painted if the right paint is used, so I decided to give that theory a try here.

**Important Note:  I would NOT recommend painting barker or tile board in a situation such as a bathtub with a shower.  I’m not certain the paint would stand up to the constant exposure to a direct stream of water.  This application is only on a tub surround with no shower.

I headed to my local General Paint store and inquired about the paint system that was recommended for this {slightly strange} situation.  The kind gentleman recommended this:

barker board paint

Zinssser Primer All-Surface Bond Coat (works well on smooth, slick surfaces) and Monamel in pure white.  I also purchased a small foam roller for application.

To begin the process, I cut out all the old and very thick caulking, and removed/ loosened the fixtures.


I was too scared I wouldn’t be able to figure out how to get that big ol tap thing on correctly if I removed it completely, so I just loosened the very long screws and pulled it away from the wall.

To prep the surface, I cleaned it really good, and roughed it up slightly with sandpaper.

I also taped around the edges of the tub with painter’s tape.

Then I took a deep breath and painted on the first coat of primer.


It painted like a dream and dried very quickly.  So, I painted another coat of primer to see if it would cover a little more of the avocado green.  (It didn’t do much more in the coverage department.)

Then, with great anticipation, I painted the first thin coat of the white top coat.

after 1st coat of paint

I quickly realized that that 70s’ look wasn’t going to be erased quickly.  I also read the can and discovered that at least 24 hours dry time is needed between coats.


But patience paid off in the end.

(Over) 7 days and 7 (thin) coats later, here it is!

painted barker board with words

I’m thrilled with the fresh, new look it already has.

If you have some barker board (or tile board) that you’d like to paint, here are a few quick tips:

how to paint barker board

  1. I really liked the paint I used.  Both were water clean-up (which is a huge plus for me!).  Note that it is really smelly stuff, though.
  2. Paint thin coats rather than thick ones to avoid gloppy runs and drips.
  3. I sanded very lightly between some of the coats of paint.
  4. If you use painters’ tape around the tub, run an x-acto knife around it before you try to remove it.  You don’t want to rip off the paint with the tape!
  5. The painting process itself goes quite quickly, but drying times make it a multiple day project.
  6. Get a carpenter friend of yours to come over and caulk it beautifully.  It is the perfect finishing touch! (Thanks, Daryl!:))


Now that the tub part of the room is looking pretty spiffy, we’ve opened up the next can of worms…

Linking to:  Home Stories A-Z

Thanks for sharing!

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  2. Hi Rita,

    Thank you so much for this post!!! I have some terrifying Barker board in my upstairs bathroom and I want to paint it. I have been looking everywhere to find some information on someone doing exactly what you have done. It looks beautiful. The Barker board in my washroom is on the walls adjacent to the tub and around the sink. I’m so excited now!!

    Thank you

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