Can I Paint My Backsplash?


Painting your backsplash can be a quick and affordable way to update the look of your kitchen. But before you break out the paintbrushes, there are a few important factors to consider. Here is a comprehensive guide on whether you can paint your existing backsplash, what type of paint to use, preparation tips, and techniques for achieving a beautiful painted backsplash.

Can You Paint Over an Existing Backsplash?

The short answer is yes, you can paint over an existing backsplash in most cases. However, the specific materials and condition of your current backsplash will determine how well the paint adheres.

Tile Backsplashes

Paint adheres well to most types of can i paint my backsplash tile including ceramic, porcelain, and natural stone. The grout lines provide texture for the paint to grip. Be sure to properly clean and prepare the tiles first.

Stainless Steel Backsplashes

Stainless steel can be tricky to paint since it is a very smooth, non-porous surface. Special metal and appliance paints are available, but may chip or peel. Lightly sanding with fine grit sandpaper improves adhesion.

Glass Tile Backsplashes

Similar to stainless steel, glass tile is slippery and non-porous. Use a bonding primer specifically made for glass and be prepared to do multiple coats of paint for good coverage.

Backsplashes in Poor Condition

If the existing backsplash is worn, damaged, or has lots of failed grout, it will need repair work before painting. Cracks, holes, and missing grout will likely cause the paint to fail prematurely.

What Type of Paint Should You Use?

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

Enamel Paint

Enamel paint such as alkyd or acrylic provides a hard, glossy finish that is easy to clean. It adheres well to tile, metal, and glass backsplashes. Oil-based alkyd enamel is more durable than water-based acrylic.

Epoxy Paint

Epoxy paint contains resins that create an extra-tough finish resistant to damage, moisture, and scrubbing. Two-part epoxy paints offer the most protection for high-use kitchen backsplashes.

Mold and Mildew Resistant Paint

Since backsplashes see a lot of moisture from cooking and cleaning, mold-resistant paints containing fungicides/antimicrobial agents help prevent mold growth.

Heat Resistant Paint

For backsplashes behind ranges or ovens, choose a high heat paint rated for temperatures up to 400°F-500°F. Heat can damage and discolor standard paints.


Primer improves paint adhesion and prevents imperfections in the existing backsplash from showing through the new paint. Use a primer made for the specific backsplash material.

Backsplash Paint Preparation

Proper prep work helps the paint adhere tightly for a long lasting finish. Here are some tips:

  • Clean the backsplash thoroughly with an all-purpose cleaner to remove grease, soap scum, and grime. Rinse and let dry completely.
  • Lightly sand glossy tiles, stainless steel, or glass backsplashes with 150-220 grit sandpaper to rough up the surface. Wipe away sanding dust.
  • Repair any damaged areas including cracked tiles, holes, and missing grout. Let patching materials fully cure before painting.
  • Apply 2-3 coats of proper primer to seal and enhance paint adhesion. Allow each coat to dry completely.
  • Use painter’s tape to mask off any adjacent surfaces you don’t want to paint such as countertops or walls. Remove tape immediately after painting before the paint fully dries.

Application Tips for a Smooth Painted Backsplash

Follow these tips as you apply the backsplash paint:

  • Always follow the specific paint manufacturer’s instructions for best results.
  • Use good quality mini paint rollers and angled brushes suitable for smooth surfaces.
  • Apply paint in thin, even coats allowing proper drying time between coats. Thick coats can lead to drips, brush marks, and uneven drying.
  • For grout lines, use an angled brush to carefully paint into the crevices so they remain visible.
  • Maintain a wet edge by brushing from one painted area into the next unpainted area before the paint dries. This avoids lap marks.
  • Work methodically in sections starting at the top and working your way down. For large backsplashes, consider stopping at natural breaking points.
  • Apply the final coat in horizontal strokes to minimize noticeable brush strokes.
  • Allow the paint to cure fully (at least 24 hours) before cleaning or placing items on the backsplash.

FAQs About Painting a Backsplash

Can I paint my backsplash a different color than my cabinets?

Yes, painting your backsplash a complementary or contrasting color to your cabinetry is a great way to add visual interest and dimension to your kitchen. Just be sure the colors work together.

What sheen of paint finish should I use?

A satin, eggshell, or semi-gloss sheen provides a smooth, wipeable finish. Flat or matte paints show more defects and are harder to clean. Glossy paints accentuate imperfections.

How do I remove paint from a backsplash?

Removing paint often requires completely redoing the backsplash. Chemical paint strippers can work on some surfaces but may damage others. Taking up tile or other backsplash materials to replace is the best option if you don’t want painted finishes.

Can I use backsplash paint on countertops?

No, typical backsplash paints are not formulated to withstand the heavy wear, hot pans, and harsh cleaners used on countertops. Opt for durable countertop paint made specifically for high use kitchen surfaces.

Is special ventilation needed when painting in the kitchen?

Proper ventilation is always a good idea when painting indoors. Open windows and use exhaust fans as needed. Take necessary safety precautions with chemical fumes. Only paint when kitchen is not in use.


Updating a tired backsplash with paint is an affordable DIY project that can give your kitchen a fresh new look with just a couple coats. With the right paint products and preparation methods, you can achieve professional-looking results. Carefully consider your current backsplash material, paint sheen, application techniques, and safety to end up with a painted backsplash you’ll love.