Can I Paint Over Backsplash Tile?

Painting over existing backsplash tiles can transform the look of your kitchen or bathroom quickly and affordably. With some preparation and the right paint, you can give old, dated tile a fresh new look. Here is an in-depth guide on how to paint over backsplash tiles.

Should You Paint Over Backsplash Tiles?

Painting over backsplash tiles allows you to update their color and look without the time and expense of a full tile removal and replacement. It can be a budget-friendly way to refresh your space.

However, there are a few factors to consider first:

  • Condition of existing tiles – Paint adheres best to tiles that are in good condition without cracks, damage or missing grout. Porous or worn tiles will show through the paint.
  • Type of existing tiles – Smooth, glazed ceramic, glass and porcelain tiles accept paint better than textured, matte or natural stone tiles that can absorb paint unevenly.
  • Desired finished look – Paint can update the color but won’t hide the underlying pattern or texture. The finished look depends on the existing tile.

If your tiles are in good shape and you want a color/finish update, painting them is a solid option. For a total remodel, full tile replacement may be preferable.

How to Prepare Backsplash Tiles for Painting

Proper prep is crucial for the paint to adhere correctly. Here are the key steps:

Clean the Tiles Thoroughly

Grease, dirt and soap residue will prevent paint from bonding. Clean tiles with an ammonia-based cleanser or degreasing dish soap. Rinse and let dry completely.

Sand Glossy Tiles

Glossy glazed tiles need their shiny surface dulled for paint to stick. Lightly sand tiles with 220-grit sandpaper just until the glossiness is gone. Vacuum well to remove all dust.

Fill Any Grout Lines or Cracks

Use caulk or grout repair products to fill any missing grout or damaged areas. Allow to fully cure before painting. This provides a smooth surface.

Apply Primer

Priming gives the paint something to bond to. Use a high-adhesion primer specifically for tile and glass. Allow the primer to fully dry before painting.

Choosing the Right Paint for Backsplash Tiles

The type of paint you use impacts the finished look and durability:

  • Latex paint – General all-purpose latex paint can work but chips easily. Not ideal for backsplashes.
  • Enamel paint – Much tougher and more scratch-resistant than latex once cured. Dries to a smooth, glossy finish.
  • Epoxy paint – Offers the toughest, most durable finish of all. Resists heat, stains and scratches. Provides a smooth, glass-like look.

For backsplashes, enamel or epoxy paints are best. They hold up to cleaning, splatters and everyday wear and tear. Buy a high-quality product specifically for tile.

Tips for Painting Backsplash Tiles

Follow these tips for getting an even, smooth painted finish:

  • Use a small trim brush or foam roller to apply the paint smoothly and reach grout lines.
  • Apply in thin, even coats and avoid drips or brush strokes. Allow each coat to fully dry before adding another.
  • Paint in sections starting at the top and working your way down.
  • For dark colors, apply a grey primer/base coat first so the dark color looks its true shade.
  • Cure epoxy paints fully for durability. Avoid cleaning for several days.
  • Remove caulk before painting. Recaulk after painting for clean lines.
  • Paint the grout the same color as the tile for a streamlined look.

Patience leads to the best results. Rushing the process can mess up the finish.

Maintenance and Durability of Painted Tile

The maintenance and longevity of your painted backsplash depends on the quality of preparation, paint type, and care taken:

  • Properly prep and prime the tiles to maximize adhesion.
  • Epoxy paints are most durable, resisting heat, moisture and cleaning.
  • Avoid abrasive scrubbing pads which may scratch the finish over time.
  • Reapply fresh coats of paint periodically as needed when you see signs of wear.

With care, painted tile can last for many years before needing a refresh. It’s a great way to quickly update your space on a budget.

Common Questions About Painting Tile Backsplashes

Can you use regular paint on tile?

Regular latex wall paint can work on tile but chips and peels easily. Enamel and epoxy paints specifically formulated for tile adhere much better and create a more durable finish.

How long does painted tile last?

With proper prep and application, painted tiles can last 3-5 years or more before needing touch ups, depending on the quality of paint used and how much wear and tear the surface sees.

Can you paint over cracked tiles?

Cracks and missing grout should be repaired for the best results. The paint will adhere but those underlying flaws may still show through the finish.

What sheen is best for painting tile?

A satin or semi-gloss finish is ideal. Glossy finishes can appear uneven on tile and show imperfections. Matte is prone to staining. Satin/semi-gloss offer the best of both – some shine yet still hide flaws well.

Should tile be sealed before painting?

Sealing prior to painting is not necessary but can help paint adhere to more porous or textured tiles. Use a clear tile sealer compatible with the paint.

Painting over existing backsplash tile offers an affordable way to update the look of your kitchen or bath. With proper preparation and application, the fresh painted finish can provide years of renewed enjoyment of your space.


Painting over existing backsplash tiles allows you to inexpensively update the color and style without undergoing a full tile replacement. With some careful prepwork to clean and prime the tiles, the right enamel or epoxy paint will adhere well and provide a durable, refreshed finish. Take your time, use the proper materials and techniques, and your painted backsplash can look amazing for years before needing a touch up. It’s a budget-friendly trick for transforming the heart of your home.