Can I Paint My Backsplash Tile?

Painting over existing backsplash tiles can transform the look of your kitchen or bathroom quickly and affordably. With proper preparation and technique, you can paint most types of backsplash tiles, dramatically changing their appearance. We’ll discuss when painting tiles is recommended, what types of tiles can be painted, preparation steps, painting techniques, and tips for getting a professional looking finish. Read on to learn all you need to know about painting over backsplash tiles.

Is Painting Over Backsplash Tiles Recommended?

Painting over backsplash tiles allows you to refresh your space without undergoing a full tile removal and replacement. It’s a budget-friendly project that can be completed in a weekend by an experienced DIYer. Painting tiles is recommended in the following situations:

  • Changing the color scheme – Paint allows you to easily change the tile color to align with new decor.Painting tiles is more affordable than new tile installation.
  • Updating tile style – Painting an outdated or worn tile can give it a more modern, trendy look. Paint allows you to inexpensively update existing tiles.
  • Covering flaws – Paint conceals chips, cracks, discoloration, and other tile damage. It provides a uniform appearance.

However, there are a few cases where painting over tiles is not advised:

  • Severely damaged or missing tiles should be replaced, not painted over.
  • Paint may not adhere well to porous tiles like natural stone or terracotta.
  • Painting over tiles in a high moisture area like a shower is not recommended.
  • Paint may not bond as well to textured tiles. A smooth tile surface provides better adhesion.

As long as your tiles are in good shape and suitably smooth, painting them is an excellent refresh option in most cases.

What Types of Tiles Can Be Painted?

You can successfully paint a variety of tile materials, including:

Ceramic and Porcelain

Ceramic and porcelain tiles with a glazed surface are ideal candidates for painting. The glassy glaze allows paint to bond tightly. Unglazed ceramic or porcelain may require special treatment but can also be painted.


Smooth glass tiles can be painted, but paint adhesion may be a challenge on textured glass tile. Proper prep and primer can allow most glass tile to be painted.


Metal backsplashes like tin, stainless steel, or aluminum can be painted. Just ensure proper cleaning and priming first.

Composite Materials

Tiles made of resin, quartz, or engineered stone can usually be painted, but test first. Their ultra-smooth surfaces can cause paint adhesion problems without proper prep.

Natural Stone

Painting natural stone like marble, granite, or travertine is not recommended. These porous tiles will not allow paint to properly adhere.


Small mosaic tiles are paintable as long as the material is suitable. The grout may also need refreshed when painting mosaic sheets.

Always test paint adhesion on a sample tile before painting the entire backsplash. This can predict potential issues with bonding.

How to Prepare Tiles for Painting

Preparing your backsplash tiles properly before painting is crucial for getting paint to adhere correctly. Follow these steps:

Clean Thoroughly

Tiles must be completely free of dirt, grease, soap residue, and any other contaminants. Use a degreasing cleaner or mix of vinegar, dawn dish soap, and warm water. Scrub with a brush and rinse until all residue is gone.

Sand Glossy Surfaces

Any shiny or glossy tiles should be lightly sanded to roughen up the surface. Use 220 grit sandpaper and avoid scrubbing all the way down to bare tile. This helps the paint bond.

Repair Flaws

Inspect tiles for any damage, missing grout, cracks, holes, or gaps around edges. Use caulk, grout repair, or filler products to patch any problem areas so they are smooth.

Prime the Surface

Applying a layer of primer/sealer designed for tile gives the best paint adhesion. Allow the primer to fully dry per manufacturer instructions before painting.

Use painter’s tape

To keep paint off countertops, cabinets, and appliances, tape off the perimeter with painter’s tape. Remove tape immediately after painting before cure is complete.

How to Paint Backsplash Tiles

Once properly prepped, you can move on to the painting process. Follow these tips:

Choose the Right Paint

A high quality 100% acrylic latex paint formulated for tile surfaces works best. Avoid chalk or latex enamel paints. Purchase enough for 2-3 coats.

Apply With a Paint Sprayer or Foam Roller

Using an HVLP spray system or foam roller avoids leaving brush strokes. Apply paint in thin, even coats and maintain a wet edge to prevent lap marks.

Work in Sections

Paint a few square feet at a time, allowing each section to dry before moving on. This prevents drips or blotchiness from overlapping wet paint. Work top to bottom.

Inspect Between Coats

Check for any missed spots and touch up before applying additional coats. Two to three coats ensures full coverage with even results.

Clean Up Promptly

Immediately wipe up any drips or splatters with a wet rag before they dry. Use painter’s tape to prevent issues near walls. Paint can be difficult to remove once cured.

Confirm Full Cure

Allow painted tiles to cure fully 3-7 days before use. Test a section by wiping with a wet sponge. If paint comes off, allow more curing time.

Tips for Getting a Professional Tile Painting Finish

Follow these tips and techniques to get your newly painted backsplash to look professionally done:

  • Maintain a wet edge and overlap passes slightly to prevent lap marks. Work in small sections.
  • When using a paint sprayer, keep pressure and distance consistent for even coverage.
  • Roll or brush borders and corners first, then fill in larger sections with the sprayer.
  • Use extendingpoles and small rollers/brushes for hard to reach areas near ceiling or cabinets.
  • Apply multiple thin coats rather than thick single coats that risk running or drips.
  • Use high quality painter’s tape and caulk to mask off nearby surfaces cleanly and prevent bleeding.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for dry time between coats.
  • Sand lightly between coats for maximum adhesion, wiping away all dust after sanding.
  • Check weather and avoid painting in overly hot, cold, or humid conditions.
  • Work in a well ventilated area. Position a fan to pull paint overspray away

With the right materials, preparation, and painting approach, you can achieve beautiful, professional-looking results when painting over existing backsplash tile. Carefully follow the steps above to transform your kitchen or bath affordably.

Frequently Asked Questions About Painting Tile

What kind of paint should I use on tile?

100% acrylic latex paints formulated specifically for tile provide the best adhesion and durability. Avoid exterior paint, chalk paint, and enamel paint on tiles.

Do I need a primer for painting tile?

Using a tile primer before painting improves paint adhesion. Look for an acrylic tile primer made for smooth or ceramic/porcelain surfaces.

Should tiles be sealed before painting?

Sealing is an important step for porous tile materials to prevent the paint from soaking in unevenly. Use a tile sealer compatible with your chosen paint.

Can any tiles be painted?

Tiles that are glossy, smooth, glazed, and non-porous like ceramic, porcelain, or glass, paint best. Avoid natural stone, textured tiles, and outdoor tiles. Always test paint a sample tile first.

How long does painted tile last?

With proper prep and application, painted tiles can last 3-5 years or more before needing touch up. Use high quality paint and primer and allow the full cure time.

How do I get a smooth finish on painted tile?

Sanding tiles lightly between coats provides the smoothest finish. Carefully applying multiple thin coats of paint with overlapping passes will also prevent brush strokes.

How soon can I use painted tiles?

It’s crucial to allow the full paint cure time of 3-7 days before regular use of the surface. Test a section by wiping with a wet sponge to confirm cure.

What’s the easiest way to paint a tile backsplash?

Using a paint sprayer allows you to quickly apply smooth, even coats on large tile areas. Just be sure to back-roll for complete coverage.

Can I paint over cracked tiles?

Minor cracks can be filled with caulk or grout repair before painting. Large cracks or multiple cracking indicates a loose tile that should be replaced, not painted over.


Painting over existing backsplash tiles allows you to inexpensively change the color scheme or style of your space. With proper cleaning, sanding, priming, and application of a quality acrylic latex paint, most smooth tile materials like ceramic, porcelain, or glass can be painted with great results. Just be sure to prep the tiles thoroughly, apply several thin coats, clean up drips promptly, and allow ample drying time between coats and before use. Pay attention to details like using painter’s tape for sharp paint lines and maintaining a wet edge while painting. Follow the recommendations above to tackle a tile painting project like a pro. With a little time and effort, you can dramatically update the look of your backsplash.