Question: I live in a house that was built in the 1940s to 1950s, and the floor tile in the bathroom is original - black and pink. Can I successfully paint this tile so that it is more up-to-date?

Answer: Usually, I recommend waiting a while, until a style comes back, but you seem very eager.

You can repaint ceramic tile, but floors are a problem because you walk on them and can mark up what you have painted.

Here's some advice from Dow's Paint Quality Institute in Spring House:

First, prepare the surface. Treat mildew with a 3:1 water/household bleach mixture, leaving it on for 20 minutes and adding more as it dries. Wear eye and skin protection. Rinse thoroughly.

Remove dirt by scrubbing with detergent and warm water. Rinse thoroughly.

Scrape out and widen any cracks, brush out dust, and seal with 100 percent acrylic or siliconized acrylic caulk. Smooth caulk flush while it's still wet. Make a second application in several hours, if needed.

Check grouting and repair or re-grout as needed.

To the tile, apply a high-adhesion latex stain-blocking primer recommended for interior use. Allow the primer to dry overnight before painting.

For floors, use an alcohol-based or oil-based stain-blocking primer recommended for interior use.

Do not leave a primer unpainted.

When you paint the floors, use a latex satin-finish floor paint that is recommended for interior use on primed tile, or a semigloss oil-based or polyurethane floor paint recommended for use on primed tile.

Here and there. The National Association of Home Builders has published a guide for members and consumers called Home Maintenance Made Easy: What to Do, When to Do It, When to Call for Help, available at or for $19.95 to nonmembers.

And finally, a winter-prep tip from Dow Building Solutions: Be sure to put a screen at the top of your chimney to keep out rodents and birds. If you haven't used your chimney since last winter, make sure to hire a chimney sweep to remove the soot buildup. or write him at The Inquirer, Box 8263, Philadelphia 19101. Volume prohibits individual replies.