Can I Paint Kitchen Backsplash Tiles?

Painting your existing kitchen backsplash tiles can provide a quick and inexpensive way to update the look of your kitchen. With the right preparation and paint, you can easily transform dull, dated tiles into a fresh new backsplash. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to paint kitchen backsplash tiles.

Should I Paint My Kitchen Backsplash Tiles?

Painting over existing backsplash tiles can be a good option if you are looking for an affordable facelift for your kitchen. Some key advantages of painting tiles include:

  • Cost-effective: Buying tiles and re-tiling a backsplash can be expensive. Painting existing tiles is a budget-friendly alternative.
  • Quick Revamp: Prepping and painting tiles is a much faster process than re-tiling an entire backsplash. You can refresh the look of your kitchen in just a weekend.
  • Color Change: Paint allows you to easily change the color of your dated or stained tiles. You can match any decor style with the perfect paint color.
  • Coverage: Paint can conceal cracks, chips, discoloration, and grout stains on your existing tiles. It provides a uniform finished look.

However, there are a few things to consider before painting tiles:

  • Paint may not adhere well to high-gloss tiles. The slick surface can cause the paint to peel or scratch off easily.
  • Porous natural stone tiles like travertine or marble should not be painted as they require special treatment.
  • Painting tiles is semi-permanent. Completely removing paint from tiles is difficult if you want to revert to the original look.

As long as your tiles are in good condition and are suitable for painting, this can be an excellent DIY option for upgrading your backsplash on a budget.

How to Prepare the Tiles for Painting?

Proper prep work is crucial for getting paint to adhere correctly to the tiles. Follow these steps to prepare tiles before painting:

Clean the Tiles

Use a degreasing cleaner or baking soda paste to thoroughly clean the tiles and remove any oily residue or soap scum build-up. Rinse well and leave to dry fully.

Sand Glossy Tiles

For high-gloss tiles, gently sand the surface with fine 120-150 grit sandpaper. This helps the paint adhere properly.

Repair Grout Lines

Re-grout any cracked or missing grout lines with a matching tile grout. Let it cure completely before painting.

Fill Any Cracks or Holes

Use waterproof silicone caulk to fill any cracks or holes in the grout or tiles. Let it dry completely.

Remove Outlets and Fixtures

Take out any outlets, switches, or fixtures like knobs on the backsplash before painting. This allows for easier application of paint.

Clean Outlets and Fixtures

Ensure any electrical outlets or fixtures are free of any grime, grease, or oils which can prevent proper paint adhesion.

With thorough preparation, you can ensure the new paint will adhere tightly and not flake or chip away from the tiles.

What Type of Paint Works Best for Backsplash Tiles?

The right paint ensures maximum adhesion and makes the painting process easier. Consider these aspects when choosing paint for backsplash tiles:

  • Enamel paint: Enamel paints provide a smooth, durable finish that resists chipping and scratching which is ideal for a kitchen backsplash. Opt for interior enamel paints labeled suitable for tiles.
  • Acrylic paint: Water-based acrylic latex paints also work well for painting ceramic or porcelain tiles. They offer good adhesion and dry quickly.
  • Textured paint: For adding an interesting dimensional effect, choose textured paints with varied finishes like stone, sand, or granite-style textures.
  • Color: Use high-quality paints and primer in the desired shade. Darker colors hide stains and imperfections better than light shades.
  • Pre-mixed: Choose premixed colored paints instead of mixing custom tints yourself. Pre-mixed paints offer better consistency and coverage.

Along with these considerations, always check the paint can directions to see if the selected brand adheres well to tiles and resists moisture.

What is the Painting Process for Backsplash Tiles?

Follow these step-by-step instructions for a smooth painting project:

Step 1 – Apply Primer

Use a high-quality primer suitable for tiles that provides maximum adhesion. Apply a generous coat, let it dry fully.

Step 2 – First Coat of Paint

Apply the first coat of paint in thin, even strokes. Work in small sections. Let the paint dry fully before adding another coat.

Step 3 – Second Coat of Paint

The second coat of paint provides better coverage and intensity of color. Again, apply paint smoothly and evenly.

Step 4 – Optional Third Coat

For best results, a third coat of paint can help fully conceal the underlying tile color and flaws.

Step 5 – Remove Tape and Reinstall Fixtures

Once paint has dried per the manufacturer’s directions, carefully remove any masking tape used during the painting process. Reinstall any fixtures that were removed.

Step 6 – Seal with Polyurethane (Optional)

Adding 1-2 coats of water-based satin polyurethane seals in the painted finish and adds extra durability.

With careful application and ample drying time between coats, you can achieve a smooth, even finish that revitalizes your entire backsplash.

How Long Does the Painted Backsplash Last?

How long your painted backsplash tiles last depends on several factors:

  • Quality paint: Higher quality paints last 3-5 years with proper prep and application.
  • Coats applied: Additional coats of paint help it adhere better and last longer.
  • Daily wear: Backsplashes in high-use kitchens may require touch-ups more often.
  • Cleaning methods: Gently clean painted backsplashes by hand. Avoid abrasive cleaners or scrubbing.
  • Sealer: Applying a polyurethane sealer helps painted tiles last over 5 years. It adds extra protection.
  • Moisture exposure: Areas around a sink or stove see more moisture. Paint may need redoing more often.

With care, most painted kitchen backsplashes last 2-4 years before needing a refresh. Touch-up paint as needed to maintain its just-painted look.

Tips for Painting a Tile Backsplash

Here are some additional tips to get great results from your tile painting project:

  • Use painter’s tape to mask off edges, cabinets, countertops, etc. Remove tape immediately once painting is complete.
  • Work in small sections, painting only 2-3 tiles width at a time for the smoothest coverage.
  • Maintain a wet edge by brushing into freshly painted areas before paint dries.
  • Work top to bottom when painting vertically installed tile. For horizontal tile, work side to side.
  • Use an angled paintbrush to neatly paint into grout lines and tile edges.
  • Make sure tiles are fully dry before adding another coat of paint or sealer.
  • Apply sealer thinly and evenly to avoid drips. Two thin coats are better than one thick coat.
  • Consider hiring a professional if removing switches or dealing with hazardous electrical areas.

With careful prep and application, you can update your kitchen backsplash on a budget. Painted tiles offer a fresh look with just a weekend of work. Refer to this guide anytime you consider painting over your backsplash tiles for a kitchen makeover.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use regular latex wall paint on a backsplash?

No, regular wall paint does not adhere well to slick tile and will start flaking off quickly. Use specially formulated tile paint or enamel paint for best results.

Should I paint the grout as well as tiles?

Yes, painting grout the same color as your tiles gives a cohesive finished look. Use an angled brush to carefully paint into the grout lines.

What sheen of paint should I use?

A satin, eggshell, or semi-gloss sheen is ideal for backsplashes. It is shiny enough to clean easily and hides imperfections well. Avoid flat paints that stain easily.

Can I paint over cracked or damaged tiles?

It is best to replace any tiles that are cracked, badly chipped, or missing chunks of surface area before painting. The paint will not disguise any significant tile damage.

How do I get paint drips off a backsplash?

Use a razor blade to gently scrape off any dried paint drips or blobs. Then carefully touch-up the area using a small paintbrush.


Painting over existing backsplash tiles offers a simple, affordable way to rejuvenate your kitchen’s style. With the right tile paint and application techniques, you can achieve a dramatically updated backsplash in just a weekend. Be sure to properly prep and clean tiles, apply multiple coats, and use painter’s tape for the most seamless results. Consider sealing painted tiles to maximize durability. Use this guide to DIY your way to a fresh new kitchen backsplash with ease.