Painting a tile backsplash can completely transform the look and feel of your kitchen or bathroom. With the right prep work and paint, you can easily freshen up outdated tile or create a custom look. Here’s what you need to know about painting tile backsplashes.
Assessing Your Tile
Before deciding to paint your tile, assess its condition and type:
- Condition – Make sure the tile is clean and in good shape. Repair any cracked or missing tiles. Paint won’t adhere well to dirty or damaged surfaces.
- Type – Glazed ceramic and porcelain tiles accept paint best. Stay away from tiles with a shiny finish, as the paint likely won’t bond. Unglazed tile and natural stone are very porous and prone to peeling.
- Grout – Determine if your grout lines are in good shape. Re-grout if necessary so you have a smooth surface.
- Location – Consider where the tile is located. Kitchen backsplashes receive more wear and need paint that is highly washable and stain resistant.
If your tile is in suitable condition, a quality tile paint should work well. Just know that painting tile is semi-permanent—completely removing paint from tile is difficult.
Cleaning and Prep Work
Thoroughly clean and prepare the tile before painting:
- Wash with a degreaser and rinse to remove all grease and residue.
- Lightly sand glossy or glass tiles with 320 grit sandpaper to help the paint adhere.
- Rinse and let the tile dry completely before painting.
- Apply a bonding primer made for glossy surfaces. This helps the paint stick to slippery tile.
- Caulk around sinks, counters, cabinets and other edges for a clean finish.
Taking time to prep ensures the long-lasting quality of your painted tile.
Choosing a Tile Paint
Look for an interior tile paint designed for high-traffic areas:
- Epoxy paint – Extremely durable 2-part formula great for kitchens. Withstands heat and moisture.
- Acrylic paint – Budget-friendly paint that’s easy to apply. Best for low-traffic bathrooms.
- Urethane acrylic – Offers a balance of durability and ease of use. Good all-purpose option.
- Color options – Many paints are tintable to any color for endless options.
Select a finish like high-gloss for wipeability. Matte finishes can show marks and scuffs.
Follow these tips when applying tile paint:
- Always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Work in sections so paint doesn’t dry before you finish.
- Use painters tape and drop cloths to protect surroundings.
- Apply 2-3 coats for best coverage and durability.
- Let paint dry fully between coats according to label directions.
- Use an angled brush to neatly paint grout lines.
- Prime painted tile before re-grouting for a solid fill.
Going slowly and steadily will lead to a smooth painted finish!
Curing and Care
Paint needs proper curing time before regular use:
- Allow the recommended drying time between coats.
- Let paint cure fully before cleaning or exposing to water, usually 5-7 days.
- Don’t scrub or use harsh cleaners during the curing period.
With proper care, painted tile can last for many years:
- Clean with mild soap and warm water. Avoid abrasive pads or scouring powders.
- Re-apply a fresh coat of paint periodically when you notice wear, cracks or fading.
- Touch up paint spots as needed, following curing times.
With the right prep and product, painted tile can refresh your backsplash or create a whole new look. Just be sure to assess your tile condition first and care for the finish once complete. Happy painting!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I paint over cracked or damaged tile?
It’s best to repair any cracked, broken, or missing tiles before painting. The cracks and flaws will likely show through the paint. Use caulk, grout, or replacement tiles to fix any problem areas first.
What kind of paint adheres best to tile?
Look for paint specifically designed for tile and masonry, such as epoxy tile paint or urethane acrylic. Avoid regular wall paints which don’t bond as well to non-porous tile. Priming also helps paint stick.
Can I paint both the tile and grout?
Yes, you can paint the entire backsplash – tile and grout – for a seamless finished look. Use painter’s tape for crisp paint lines where the tile meets countertops or cabinets.
How do I get paint out of the grout lines?
Use a small angled paintbrush to carefully paint just the tile and avoid getting paint down in the grout lines. If paint does seep in, immediately wipe it away with a damp cloth before it dries.
What sheen is best for tile paint?
Gloss and semi-gloss finishes are easiest to keep clean. They resist staining and are durable. Matte or eggshell finishes can show marks and scuffs more.
Can I paint over natural stone tile?
Painting over porous natural stone often leads to peeling. The paint doesn’t bond well. Only paint stone tile if you apply a primer and top-coat designed specifically for stone surfaces.
Painting tile backsplashes is an affordable DIY way to revive your kitchen or bath without a full renovation. With proper prep work and the right tile paint, even beginners can achieve durable, quality results. Be sure to assess your existing tile condition, follow application directions closely, and allow ample drying time. Painted tile requires gentle cleaning but can withstand years of wear with occasional touch-ups. With so many color options available, you can easily paint tile to match any decor.