A backsplash is an important design element in any kitchen. Not only does it protect your walls from splashes and stains while cooking, but it also serves as a decorative focal point that can tie your entire kitchen design together. Many homeowners opt for materials like tile or natural stone for their backsplash. But if you’re on a budget or just looking for an easy DIY project, painting your backsplash is a great option. Here’s what you need to know about painting a backsplash in your kitchen.
Should I Paint My Backsplash? Pros and Cons
Pros of Painting a Backsplash:
- More affordable than tile or stone
- Wide range of color options
- Easy DIY project
- Allows you to frequently change the look
- Seamless, smooth finish
- Can mimic look of more expensive materials
Cons of Painting a Backsplash:
- Prone to staining and needing touch-ups
- Can show signs of wear more easily over time
- Limited texture options compared to tile
- Darker colors may show drips or imperfections
- Reflective paints can show uneven walls/surfaces
Choosing the Right Paint for Your Backsplash
The type of paint you choose for your backsplash is extremely important. You want a paint that is durable, stain-resistant, easy to clean, and looks great. Here are some of the best options:
Epoxy paint is commonly used for garage and basement floors, but it can also work well for backsplashes. It provides a thick, glossy coating that is extremely durable and water-resistant. Epoxy paint comes in tons of colors and can mimic natural materials like stone and quartz. The downside is that it requires more prep work and is more difficult to apply.
Acrylic Latex Paint
For a DIY backsplash paint job, acrylic latex paints provide the easiest application. They apply and clean up just like ordinary wall paints. Choose high quality acrylic paint with builtin primers and stains/scratches resistant formulas. Matte finishes hide imperfections better than glossy paints. The finish won’t be as durable as epoxy, but it offers an affordable backsplash paint solution.
Enamel paint provides a classic, smooth, glass-like finish. Oil-based enamel will be the toughest, while latex enamel is easier to apply and clean up after. Enamel paints are often used on wood and metal but can provide a durable, scratch-resistant finish for backsplashes when properly primed first. Gloss and semi-gloss enamel finishes are best for kitchen use.
High Heat Spray Paint
For backsplashes behind stoves or ovens, a high heat spray paint is the best backsplash paint option. These are specialty paints designed to withstand temperatures up to 600-1200°F. High temperature paint will prevent discoloring, bubbling, or cracking when exposed to heat. Look for mold/mildew resistant formulas.
How to Prepare and Paint a Backsplash
Step 1: Clean and Prepare the Surface
Proper prep is crucial for an evenly painted backsplash that won’t easily scratch or peel. Fill any holes or imperfections with spackle. Clean the entire backsplash surface with TSP substitute to remove grease and grime. Lightly sand glossy surfaces to rough them up. Finally, wipe away all dust with a tack cloth.
Step 2: Tape and Mask Surrounding Areas
Use painter’s tape to mask off countertops, cabinets, outlets, and any other areas you don’t want to get paint on. Cover larger surfaces with plastic drop cloths. Make clean crisp paint lines by pressing the tape edges firmly.
Step 3: Apply Primer
Priming helps the paint better adhere to the backsplash surface. For tile or laminate backsplashes, use a dedicated tile primer. Drywall or plaster backsplashes can be primed with standard acrylic primers. Follow all label instructions for proper primer application.
Step 4: Paint the Backsplash
Use a good quality brush and mini foam roller to apply two coats of backsplash paint, allowing proper drying time between coats. Work methodically from top to bottom. For dark colors, tint the primer to match to prevent needing extra coats. Maintain wet edges and avoid drips. Allow the final coat to fully cure for days before use.
Step 5: Remove Tape and Seal Paint
Carefully remove all masking tape within 24 hours of painting. Use a razor to gently lift edges. Caulk gaps or rough edges with a clear sealant designed for kitchen use. Consider applying a food-safe sealer to provide extra protection and sheen.
DIY Backsplash Paint Techniques and Ideas
Beyond just painting a solid color, there are many fun techniques that can give your backsplash a more unique, high-end look:
- Sponging: Dab on multiple colors of glaze or paint with a sponge for a mottled, textured look.
- Rag rolling: For a faux marble or stone finish, rag roll various glaze colors over a base coat.
- Stenciling: Cut custom stencils from painter’s tape or use pre-made stencils to create patterns.
- Paneling: Use tape or framing to create decorative panels, grids, or geometric designs.
- Metallic accents: Add hand-painted silver, gold, or copper details over a main color for a pop of shine.
- Ombre effect: Transition between hues by gradually overlapping and blending paint colors.
- Horizontal stripes: For a retro diner look, paint simple or variegated stripes.
- Moroccan tile: Use painter’s tape to create a colorful Moroccan tile pattern.
- Faux subway tile: Use butted up squares of painter’s tape and paint contrasting colors for a tile effect.
Best Paint Colors for Kitchen Backsplashes
The color you choose for your backsplash can make a huge impact on the overall look and feel of your kitchen. Here are some of the best backsplash paint colors to consider:
- White – A classic choice that creates a clean, bright look. Use an antique white for a slight vintage vibe.
- Light grays – From soft dove to darker charcoal, gray backsplashes pair with any cabinetry and granite.
- Navy – A bold but versatile color that adds drama and works with any style.
- Forest green – For a natural, organic look. Works well with brown, beige, white and wood tones.
- Turquoise – From pastel to neon, this cheerful hue complements white and gray kitchens.
- Black – Striking and modern on its own or great for accents against lighter backsplash colors.
- Red – A bright, energizing option when done in a brick, cherry or candy apple red.
- Yellow – Cheery shades like lemon, mustard, or gold create a sunny, welcoming kitchen.
Maintaining and Touching Up a Painted Backsplash
A painted backsplash likely won’t last as long without needing touch-ups as tile or glass. But you can maximize the lifespan by:
- Allowing paint to fully cure for 1-2 weeks before cleaning
- Using soft microfiber cloths to gently wipe up splatters
- Avoiding abrasive scouring pads or cleaners
- Immediately wiping up oils or greasy splatters to avoid stains
- Spot treating any stains with warm, soapy water
- Applying a fresh coat of paint or sealer every 1-2 years
Periodically check for any signs of damage to the paint like scratches or chips. Sand and spot prime any problem areas, feathering out edges. Then repaint those spots with a small paintbrush. Make sure to match the original paint color.
Hiring a Professional to Paint a Backsplash
While a DIY backsplash paint job can save money, hiring professional painters will ensure higher quality results. Pros have the right tools, expertise, and experience painting backsplashes to get seamless finishes. They also have access to commercial grade paints and primers designed for kitchen use. Prep work like removing an existing backsplash is also faster for contractors. Consider pros if your backsplash project involves complex patterns, specialty techniques, or covering large awkward angles around cabinets or counters. Get quotes from at least 3 contractors before choosing one.
Frequently Asked Questions About Painting a Backsplash
Can you use regular wall paint on a backsplash?
It’s best to use high quality paints designed specifically for kitchen backsplash use. Latex wall paints may not be as stain resistant or easily cleanable. However, interior wall acrylic paint will work in a pinch, especially if covered with a food-safe sealer.
What sheen is best for backsplash paint?
Semi-gloss or gloss sheens are preferred for backsplashes. They create a wipeable surface and add vibrancy to the colors. Satin sheens also work well. Avoid flat paints since they show stains and dirt more easily.
Can I go over an existing tile backsplash with paint?
Yes, with proper preparation, you can paint over existing tile, laminate, granite, and other solid backsplash materials. Thoroughly clean, lightly scuff sand, and use a tile bonding primer before painting. This helps the paint better adhere to the slick surface.
Should I seal my painted backsplash?
Sealing a painted backsplash isn’t mandatory, but it helps protect the finish and creates an easier to clean surface. Water-based polyurethane is a common sealer for latex paints. For added food safety, look for FDA approved sealers made for kitchen surfaces.
How do I get a smooth painted backsplash?
Prepping the surface well and applying multiple thin coats of quality paint will result in the smoothest finish. Allow proper drying time between coats. Sand lightly between coats and avoid applying too much paint at once to prevent drips and brush marks.
Painting your backsplash is an easy and affordable way to transform the entire look of your kitchen. With the right materials and preparation, even DIYers can achieve stylish, durable backsplash paint finishes. From designer colors to faux finishes that mimic tile, stone, and other materials, the possibilities are endless. Just be sure to use high quality kitchen paints, proper prep techniques, and maintain the finish. With a little creativity and effort, you can save big on your backsplash project using simple paint.
Should I Paint Over or Replace My Backsplash?
If your current kitchen backsplash is looking dated or damaged, you have two main options – paint over it or replace it completely. There are pros and cons to each approach.
Reasons to Paint an Existing Backsplash
It’s budget-friendly. Painting costs a fraction of what new tile or other backsplash materials cost.
It’s easier. Painting usually doesn’t require intensive removal of your old backsplash first. Some light sanding and priming is all you need for paint to adhere.
You can change your color scheme. Tired of almond and brown? Paint allows you to easily switch to more modern gray or blue hues.
It’s a temporary fix. Painting lets you quickly and affordably freshen up your kitchen. You can still replace later.
You can get creative. Paint opens up lots of embellishment options like sponging, textures, stencils and more.
Reasons to Replace Your Backsplash
You want a fresh start. If your backsplash is damaged, badly outdated or you’re aiming for a whole new look, replacement allows for full customization.
You prefer other materials. Paint can’t replicate the look of natural stone, metal or high-end glass backsplashes.
You want low maintenance. Materials like porcelain or glass tile are easier to keep clean long-term. Paint requires occasional touch ups.
Its condition is poor. Severely cracked, broken, or missing grout weaken a backsplash and make painting difficult.
It’s not water resistant. Paint may not hold up over time directly behind a sink or stove as needed. New waterproof materials are better.
Before deciding whether to paint or replace, think about:
- Your budget for the project
- How much prep work painting will require
- The current condition of your backsplash
- Whether your cabinets or countertops are also being updated
- How long you plan to stay in the home
- Whether you’ll need plumbing or electrical work done for a new backsplash
Painting can be an interim solution but replacement may be wiser for long term use and enjoyment. Consult a kitchen designer if unsure what’s best for your goals, lifestyle and home. In the end, weigh the effort needed against the benefits of each option.
Choosing the Best Paint Finish for Your Backsplash
The right paint finish for your backsplash is key to creating a surface that is water-resistant, easy to clean, and great looking. Here’s an overview of paint finish options for backsplashes along with pros and cons:
- Hides surface imperfections well
- Provides an elegant, artistic look
- Less shiny than other finishes
- More prone to staining
- Needs more frequent touch ups
- Shows dirt, grease, marks more visibly
- Provides subtle sheen and depth
- Popular, versatile look for walls
- Stains wash off easier than flat finishes
- Not as stain resistant as semi-gloss or gloss
- visible touch ups after cleaning
- Marks and imperfections still somewhat visible
- Light uniform sheen hides minor flaws
- Easy to clean and touch up
- Works well on walls and trim
- Less durable than glossy finishes
- Won’t highlight backsplash dimensions as well
- Resists staining and humidity well
- Easy to wipe down and keep clean
- Provides crisp, bright look
- Visibly shows imperfections like drips more
- Frequent touch ups required to maintain uniform sheen
- Most stain, moisture and scrub resistant
- Creates bright, vivid look
- Highlights backsplash dimensions and shapes
- Hardest finish to achieve flawlessly
- Shows any imperfections in wall surface
- Can create overly shiny look
For backsplashes, semi-gloss or gloss paints tend to provide the most benefits thanks to their durability and moisture resistance. Satin finishes also work well as a good middle ground sheen. The lower reflectiveness helps hide any minor flaws during application.
Paint Brands to Consider for Your Backsplash Project
Once you decide to paint your backsplash, choosing the right paint brand and specific product is key to achieving the look, durability and finish you want. Here are some top quality options to consider for your backsplash paint job:
Sherwin-Williams ProClassic Interior Acrylic Latex
- Provides smooth, uniform finish
- Resists stains, moisture, and scratches
- Antimicrobial-mildew resistant formula
- Low VOC, minimal odor
- Easy water clean up
- Multiple sheen options
Behr Premium Plus Interior Semi-Gloss Enamel
- Self-priming formula
- Good stain resistance and durability
- Antimicrobial-mildew resistant
- Low VOC, low odor
- Wide range of colors
- Ideal for kitchen and bath use
Benjamin Moore Advance Waterborne Interior Alkyd
- Alkyd-acrylic blend for hardness and flexibility
- Highly washable, semi-gloss finish
- Smooth, uniform finish application
- Primer not needed on most surfaces
- Ideal for cabinets, trim, and backsplashes
PPG Break-Through Interior Vivid Semi-Gloss
- 100% acrylic latex formula
- Ultra durability and stain resistance
- Fade and moisture resistant
- Rapid drying time between coats
- Uses colored primer for superior vibrancy
Rust-Oleum Zinsser PermaWhite Semi-Gloss
- Extreme hide and coverage
- Mold/mildew resistant
- Ceramic microspheres create scratch resistant finish
- Never yellows white paint colors
- Great for high traffic areas
No matter which brand you choose, always check that the product is designed for kitchen backsplash use and offers moisture resistance, scrubability, and adequate protection from grease, splatters, and food stains.
How to Clean and Care for a Painted Backsplash
A painted backsplash adds a pop of color and personality to any kitchen. But painted finishes require a bit more care and cleaning strategy compared to resilient surfaces like ceramic tile. Here are some tips to keep your painted backsplash looking like new:
Allow Proper Cure Time
Don’t start cleaning right after painting. Most kitchen paints require 14-30 days curing time before washing. Check label directions. Attempting to clean too soon can damage the finish.
Use Gentle, Non-Abrasive Cleaners
Harsh cleaners like bleach, alkaline heavy-duty cleaners, and abrasive scrubs can dull, etch or damage painted backsplash finishes. Instead opt for mild dish soap, warm water and soft microfiber cloths.
Rinse and Dry Thoroughly
Ensure you rinse off any soapy residue thoroughly and dry the backsplash completely after wiping up messes or cleaning. Standing moisture can damage paint over time.
Immediately Clean Up Spills and Grease
Promptly wipe up food splatters, greasy spatters, or drips from cooking. Don’t allow grease or oils to linger as they can penetrate and stain painted backsplashes.
Use Caution with Harsh Chemicals
Avoid getting strong chemicals like oven cleaners on painted backsplash surfaces. If drips occur, wipe up immediately and rinse several times. Consider taping over paint before using.