Can I Paint My Ceramic Tile Backsplash?

Painting a ceramic tile backsplash can completely transform the look of your kitchen. With the right preparation and painting technique, you can easily change the color of your existing backsplash without having to tear it out and replace it. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to paint ceramic tile backsplashes.

An Introduction to Painting Tile Backsplashes

Painting over ceramic tile allows you to update the color and style of your backsplash quickly and affordably. With a fresh coat of paint, you can make a dated tile backsplash look brand new. Paint also allows you to match your backsplash to a new décor scheme or Appliances.

Painting tile backsplashes is a budget-friendly renovation project. The materials needed, like primer, paint, and tools, are inexpensive compared to the cost of retiling. Prepping and painting the tile yourself also saves on labor costs. This simple paint project can make a big visual impact.

The key to success is proper surface preparation and using paint formulated for glossy tile. With patience and the right materials, even amateur DIYers can achieve beautiful results. The new painted backsplash will have a sleek, cohesive look and appear like it was designed that way.

What Type of Paint Should be Used?

Choosing the right type of paint ensures proper adhesion and durability for your newly painted backsplash. Here are the best options:

  • Epoxy paint – Epoxy-based tile paint contains resins that allow it to adhere well to glossy surfaces like ceramic tile. It dries to a hard, protective finish built to withstand moisture and stains.
  • Latex tile paint – Latex paint designed specifically for tile offers great adhesion and resilience. Look for acrylic latex paint formulated for bathrooms and kitchens.
  • Primer – Priming ensures proper paint adhesion. Use a high-quality primer made for tile like a tile bonding primer or stain-blocking primer.
  • Acrylic craft paint – For painting ceramic tile crafts, acrylic craft paints work well. They bond to glossy surfaces but lack the durability for backsplashes.

Avoid using regular wall paints or spray paint. The improper formula will lead to chipping or peeling. Investing in the right tile paint pays off with a long-lasting finish.

How to Prepare a Tile Backsplash for Painting

Proper prep work leads to the best end results. Follow these steps to prepare a ceramic tile backsplash for painting:

  • Clean the tile thoroughly with a degreasing cleaner to remove any dirt, oil or soap scum. Rinse and let dry.
  • Sand the tile lightly with 220 grit sandpaper to roughen up the glossy finish. This helps the primer and paint bond better.
  • Wash again and let the tile dry completely. Any moisture will prevent proper adhesion.
  • Apply painter’s tape around the edges to protect cabinets and countertops. Cover any adjacent surfaces.
  • Apply a coat of high-quality tile primer. Let the primer cure fully.

With the tile prepped, it will readily accept acrylic latex or epoxy tile paint. Proper prep allows the paint to adhere tightly.

Step-by-Step Painting Instructions

Follow these steps for painting a ceramic tile backsplash successfully:

Supplies Needed

  • Tile primer
  • Latex or epoxy tile paint
  • Angled paint brush
  • Paint roller
  • Paint tray
  • 220 grit sandpaper
  • Clean cloths
  • Painter’s tape


  1. Disassemble any fixtures or accessories on the backsplash. Remove soap dispensers, towel bars, etc.
  2. Wash the tile thoroughly with a degreasing cleaner. Let it dry.
  3. Lightly scuff the tile with 220 grit sandpaper to rough up the glaze. Rinse away residue.
  4. Apply painter’s tape around the backsplash edges to protect surrounding surfaces.
  5. Roll or brush a coat of tile primer over the entire backsplash. Let dry.
  6. Roll on two thin coats of latex or epoxy tile paint, allowing proper drying time between coats.
  7. Use an angled trim brush to paint grout lines and edges.
  8. Remove painter’s tape and reattach fixtures.
  9. Allow paint to cure fully for several days before use.

With this simple process, you can achieve a dramatic transformation. The painted ceramic tile will look fresh, updated and coordinated.

Tips for Successfully Painting Tile Backsplashes

Follow these tips and tricks for getting flawless results painting over ceramic tile:

  • Only use paint formulated for tile like epoxy or acrylic latex tile paint.
  • Thoroughly prep and clean the tile to remove any waxes, grease or soils.
  • Always prime first for proper adhesion.
  • Apply thin and even coats of paint. Thick coats can lead to chipping.
  • Use an angled trim brush to neatly paint grout lines.
  • Don’t overload the paint roller—a lightly loaded roller prevents dripping.
  • Work slowly and carefully on the edges where paint can drip.
  • Let paint cure fully for several days before cleaning or use.

Proper materials, careful application, and patience lead to a smooth painted finish on tile that will last.

Maintaining and Touching Up Painted Tile Backsplashes

The porcelain, ceramic, or glass material of tile backsplashes make them prone to chipping. Follow these tips to maintain the painted finish:

  • Allow a full cure time of 5-7 days before regular use or cleaning.
  • Use a gentle touch when cleaning. Avoid abrasive wipes or scrubbing.
  • Reapply paint quickly to any nicks or chips to prevent moisture damage.
  • Wipe spills up promptly to avoid possible staining.
  • Consider applying a clear polyurethane for extra protection.

With proper care, a painted tile backsplash will maintain its freshly updated look for years before needing touch-ups. The paint finish brings new life to worn tile.

Pros and Cons of Painting Backsplashes

There are several benefits that make painting tile backsplashes a popular update:


  • Less expensive than retiling
  • Quick project without remodeling
  • Easy way to update colors
  • Wide choice of paint sheens and effects


  • Paint can chip more easily than tile
  • Grout lines still need cleaning
  • Painted finish needs gentle care
  • Not as durable as new tile

Overall, painting a tile backsplash brings big visual impact with little time, effort and money. With proper prep and paint, even DIYers can get long-lasting results.

Alternatives to Painting Tile Backsplashes

While painting ceramic or porcelain tile transforms the look, it may not work for all types of tile, or some homeowners may want other options. Here are a few backsplash ideas that don’t involve paint:

  • Replace only the accent tiles for a fresh look
  • Add a sheet of backsplash paneling right over existing tile
  • Attach new tile over the old with a thinset mortar
  • Apply peel-and-stick backsplash panels or wallpaper
  • Install a floating acrylic backsplash right over old tile
  • Cover with rustic wood planks for a farmhouse look

With so many backsplash products available today, it’s easy to freshen up kitchens without removing or painting the existing tile.


Painting over ceramic and porcelain tile backsplashes offers an inexpensive way to update your kitchen in just a weekend. With proper materials and careful technique, even novice DIYers can achieve a dramatic transformation. The fresh coat of tile paint modernizes and coordinates the backsplash so it looks like new again. With appropriate preparations and paint selections, you can change the entire look of a kitchen by simply repainting the existing tile backsplash. Just remember to use an epoxy or acrylic latex paint designed specifically for high-gloss tile, and properly prep the tile beforehand. With a little time and effort, you can gain a whole new stunning backsplash on a budget.