Can I Paint Ceramic Tile Backsplash?

Painting a ceramic tile backsplash can completely transform the look of your kitchen or bathroom. With the right preparation and paint, you can easily upgrade your old, dated backsplash into something fresh and modern. Here’s what you need to know about painting ceramic tile.

Benefits of Painting Ceramic Tile

  • Inexpensive – Buying paint and painting supplies is much cheaper than removing and replacing the whole backsplash. Painting is an affordable renovation.
  • Quick – Prepping and painting tile can be done over a weekend. Much faster than a full tile replacement.
  • Easy – No special skills are required. With some simple preparation, anyone can paint tile.
  • Versatile – Paint allows you to choose any color you like for your backsplash. Match your décor or go bold.
  • Renewed Look – A fresh coat of paint makes your backsplash look brand new again. It covers grout and any stains or discoloration.

What Type of Paint to Use

Choosing the right type of paint ensures proper adhesion and durability on tile.

  • Epoxy paint – A two-part epoxy paint bonds best and is the most durable option. It’s resistant to moisture and heat.
  • Acrylic latex paint – General all-purpose latex paint works on tile, but multiple coats are needed for full coverage.
  • Specialty tile paint – Some brands formulate paint specifically for glazed ceramic and porcelain. Allows for adhesion.
  • Primers – Increases paint adherence. Use a bonding primer made for tile and glossy surfaces.

How to Prepare Tile for Painting

Proper prep work helps the paint stick to the tile surfaces.

  • Clean thoroughly with an ammonia-based cleaner to remove dirt, oils, and soap residue
  • Scrub grout lines to remove any haze or staining
  • Sand glossy tile lightly with 220 grit sandpaper to help the paint adhere
  • Apply primer to the tile to improve paint adhesion
  • Use painter’s tape around edges and borders for clean paint lines

Painting Techniques and Application

Applying the paint properly ensures even coverage and a smooth finish.

  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for prep work and application
  • Use a dense foam roller and angled brush for cutting in around edges
  • Roll on paint slowly and evenly to avoid drips, splatters, and brush strokes
  • Work in sections, cutting in edges first before rolling on paint
  • Apply 2-3 thin, even coats of paint for full opaque coverage
  • Allow proper drying time between coats as recommended

Curing and Protection

After painting, give the paint enough time to fully cure and protect the surface.

  • Allow at least 24 hours before cleaning or replacing items on backsplash
  • Wait 3-5 days before using any harsh cleaners or chemicals on the surface
  • Avoid abrasive scouring pads which can scratch the painted surface
  • Apply a clear polyurethane sealer for added protection and durability
  • Re-apply sealer yearly or as needed to refresh protection from moisture, oils, etc

Tips for Successfully Painting Tile

Follow these tips for getting the best painted tile finish.

  • Wash tile with TSP substitute cleaner before priming/painting
  • Apply painter’s tape around edges for clean paint lines
  • Use angled brush to “cut-in” around edges and corners first
  • Work in small sections to avoid lap marks and paint drying too fast
  • Avoid painting in direct sunlight or if surface is too hot
  • Apply thin, even coats and avoid going too thick
  • Have two coats of latex paint or one coat of epoxy paint for full coverage
  • Let paint dry fully between coats according to manufacturer’s directions

Painting Ceramic Tile Backsplash FAQ

Can you use any paint on ceramic tile?

No, you need to use specialty tile paint or epoxy paint for proper adhesion. Standard wall paint won’t properly bond.

Does the tile need to be primed first?

Yes, always apply a primer made for tile and glossy surfaces. It helps the paint adhere.

How long does it take for painted tile to dry?

Each coat should dry in 1-2 hours. Allow 24 hours before heavy use. Full cure can take 3-5 days.

Can painted tile get wet?

Yes, if proper water-based epoxy or acrylic paint is used. Avoid submerging in water for at least 5-7 days.

How durable is painted tile?

Painted tile is durable if proper preparation and paint is used. Reapply clear sealer yearly. Touch up paint as needed.

Can you paint over cracked or damaged tile?

No, any cracks or damage should be repaired for paint to adhere properly. Replace any broken or missing tiles.


Painting over ceramic tile backsplash is an easy and cost-effective way to update the look of your kitchen or bathroom. With proper preparation, paint choice, application, and protection, a painted tile backsplash can look fresh and last for years before needing touch-ups. Just be sure to use the right tile paint and take your time prepping and applying for best results.