Can I Paint Backsplash?

Installing a backsplash in your kitchen can completely transform the look and feel of the space. Many homeowners choose to install ceramic or stone tile backsplashes for their durability and easy-to-clean finish. However, tiling an entire backsplash area can be time-consuming and expensive. If you’re looking for a quicker, more budget-friendly option, painting your backsplash is a great alternative to consider. Here’s what you need to know about painting a backsplash in your kitchen.

What Kind of Paint Should I Use for a Backsplash?

When choosing a paint for your backsplash, you’ll want to select a product that is specifically formulated for high-traffic areas in the kitchen. Here are some good options to consider:

  • Enamel paint – Enamel paints provide a glossy, durable finish that resists staining, moisture and grease. They come in various sheens from matte to high-gloss.
  • Epoxy paint – Epoxy paints are extremely durable and water-resistant. They create a thick, protective coating that holds up well to cleaning and scrubbing.
  • Acrylic paint – Acrylic paints adhere well to a variety of surfaces. They resist fading and yellowing better than other paint types.
  • Urethane paint – For the most heavy-duty protection, urethane paints provide a super hard, scratch-resistant finish.

No matter which paint you choose, look for one that is designed to bond well and endure in kitchens and bathrooms. Avoid standard wall paints – they won’t hold up behind a stove or sink.

How Should I Prepare the Backsplash for Painting?

Proper prep work is crucial for a long-lasting painted backsplash. Here are the key steps:

  • Clean the surface thoroughly with an all-purpose cleaner to remove any grease or dirt. Rinse well and let dry fully.
  • Lightly sand glossy surfaces to rough up the finish so paint can adhere better. Wipe away any dust.
  • Apply painter’s tape around the edges to protect the countertops and cabinets.
  • Fill any cracks, holes or uneven areas with spackle. Let dry and sand smooth.
  • For tile or laminate backsplashes, apply a primer coat specifically made for slick surfaces. This helps the paint grab on better.

Thorough prep removes any barrier between the paint and backsplash surface. Taking these steps ensures the paint bonds tightly for a long-lasting finish.

What Paint Sheen Should I Use on a Backsplash?

The paint sheen you select impacts not just appearance, but also durability. Here are some guidelines for choosing a sheen:

  • Matte finish – Hides surface imperfections well but stains easily. Not ideal for kitchens.
  • Eggshell finish – With light reflective qualities, this resists staining better than matte. Not overly shiny.
  • Satin finish – Withstands moisture and frequent cleaning better than flat or eggshell paints.
  • Semi-gloss finish – Very wipeable and easy to clean. Has a modest shine to it.
  • High-gloss finish – Most durable and shiny but shows imperfections. Popular for laundry rooms.

A satin or semi-gloss finish are good choices for backsplashes around a cooktop or sink since they are scrubbable and stain-resistant. The moderate shine also adds nice depth.

How Many Coats of Paint Do I Need on a Backsplash?

For best coverage, plan on applying two to three thin coats of paint. Thinner coats provide better adhesion than one thick coat. Follow the manufacturer’s drying time instructions before applying subsequent coats. If using a darker paint color over a lighter surface, you may need an additional coat for full opacity.

Can I Use Backsplash Paint on Tile, Laminate or Other Surfaces?

Paint can be used to customize all sorts of backsplash materials, including:

  • Ceramic or porcelain tile
  • Laminate panels
  • Stainless steel
  • Fiberglass
  • Concrete
  • Peeling wallpaper

For slick non-porous surfaces like tile and laminate, proper prep and primer are essential for paint to bond successfully. Make sure to use paint formulated for these surfaces.

Can I Get a Smooth, Seamless Look Painting Backsplash Tile?

It is possible to get a smooth, seamless painted backsplash on existing tile if you properly fill the grout lines first. Here’s how:

  1. Clean and dry the tile thoroughly.
  2. Apply painter’s tape around the perimeter.
  3. Spread a thin layer of lightweight spackle over the grout using a plastic grout float or putty knife.
  4. Before the spackle dries, smooth and flatten it completely. Allow to dry fully.
  5. Lightly sand any raised areas. Remove dust.
  6. Apply paint primer and topcoat in your sheen of choice.

Taking the time to fill the grout lines helps hide the tile seams and create a more unified, seamless look once painted. Be sure to use thin, even coats of paint.

Can I Paint Over Existing Backsplash Paint?

If your backsplash was previously painted, you can paint over it to change the color or freshen up the look. The key is proper prep:

  • Clean and lightly scuff the surface to remove any grease and gloss.
  • Use painter’s tape to cover nearby areas.
  • Spot prime any damaged areas that have bare substrate showing.
  • Apply two coats of new paint in your color choice.

Be aware that the color results may vary depending on the material, quality and color of the existing paint. For best results, prime first before repainting. This helps block stains and improves adhesion.

Is Painting a Backsplash Permanent?

Painting a backsplash is semi-permanent. It will not come off easily like temporary wallpaper or contact paper. However, unlike tile, it can be removed if desired. Use caution with cleaners, abrasives, and hot pans so you don’t accidentally damage the painted finish.

To remove painted backsplash, use a chemical stripper or sandpaper. For tile, remove as much paint as possible before re-grouting. Be aware that stripping off paint can be messy and labor-intensive.

If maintained with care, a painted backsplash can look fresh and new for many years before needing redone. Proper prep and application are key for long-lasting results.


Painting a backsplash offers a quick, affordable way to refresh the look of your kitchen. With the right prep work, paint type and application tips, you can achieve a long-lasting, quality finish. Pay attention to choosing surfaces appropriate paints, priming slick surfaces, completely filling grout lines and applying multiple thin coats. A painted backsplash provides a budget-friendly alternative to pricey tile that can still be scrubbed, cleaned and look beautiful for years to come. Follow these tips to ensure your DIY backsplash paint job looks professionally done.