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The question

Both my bathroom and kitchen have ugly tile on the walls. Can I paint over them?

The answer

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Technically, you can paint almost anything if you use the correct preparation method and the most durable paint available (usually, that means one that's oil-based). What's your reason for wanting to cover the tile? Are you simply trying to hide an ugly surface in a rental unit or is this an investment in your home? Your solution needs to match your goal.

Paint away if you want something quick and cheap and don't mind getting a little dirty; you'll need to scratch up the surface of those tiles for the paint to adhere, which will create a lot of dust. This is a temporary fix, however; over time, the paint will chip and become scratched. And remember that painted tile still looks like painted tile.

If removing it is too time-consuming, you can cover it with drywall, giving you a smooth surface. You could also cover the offensive tiles with new ones – choose something timeless. I like greys, black and white and generally avoid beige as it tends to look dull. For a classic, clean look, go with glossy white subway tiles in a running bond pattern. You'll never tire of them. The cost of installing them might not be nearly as bad as the headache you'll endure from painting those tiles.

Dee Dee Taylor Eustace is an architect and interior designer. Follow her on Twitter: @ddtaylordd. Have a design dilemma? E-mail

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