Can You Paint a Backsplash Tile?

Painting over existing backsplash tiles can provide a quick and affordable way to update the look of your kitchen. With the right prep work and painting techniques, you can easily transform outdated or damaged tile into a fresh new backsplash. Here’s what you need to know about painting backsplash tiles.

What Type of Paint Should You Use?

When choosing a paint for backsplash tiles, you’ll want to use a product specifically designed for high-traffic areas that see water, heat, and cleaning chemicals. Some good options include:

  • Epoxy paint – A two-part product that chemically bonds to the tile surface for a super durable finish. Epoxy paint adheres well and resists fading, yellowing, and scratches.
  • Acrylic paint – Water-based acrylic paint formulated for interior surfaces like cabinets and furniture also works well on backsplashes. Look for an acrylic intended for high-moisture areas.
  • Specialty tile paint – You can find paints made specifically for glazed ceramic, porcelain, and natural stone tile surfaces. These paints are often urethane-fortified for added durability and adhesion.

Avoid using latex wall paints, art acrylics, or spray paints as these won’t adhere as well to the slick tile surface.

How to Prepare the Tiles for Painting

Proper prep is crucial for getting paint to adhere to glossy tile. Here are the key steps:

  • Clean the tiles thoroughly with a grease-cutting dish soap using a stiff nylon brush to remove any oily residue. Rinse and let dry.
  • Lightly scuff up the glazed tile surface using 220-grit sandpaper. This etches the surface so the paint can grip.
  • Wipe away all sanding dust using a tack cloth.
  • Apply a bonding primer made for slick surfaces. Let the primer fully cure per the product directions before painting.

Paint Application Tips and Tricks

When you’re ready to start painting, follow these tips:

  • Always follow the specific product directions for application tools, dry times, and number of coats needed.
  • Use a small foam roller and angled brush to cut-in and roll on the paint smoothly and evenly.
  • Work in small sections so the paint doesn’t dry too quickly before you can roll it out.
  • Let each coat fully dry before adding another coat. Most tiles will require 2-3 coats for best coverage.
  • Remove any painter’s tape around the edges before the paint has fully dried to avoid peeling up cured paint.
  • Consider adding a polyurethane sealer as a topcoat for extra protection and easier cleaning.

Common Questions About Painting Tile Backsplashes

Can I paint over ceramic, porcelain, or natural stone tile?

Yes, you can paint all these tile types as long as you use the proper preparatory steps and painting products. Porous natural stone may require extra priming coats.

Should I remove old caulk before painting?

It’s best to remove all old caulk so you can paint the tiles and re-caulk after. Be sure to let the paint fully cure before applying new silicone caulk.

Can I get paint customized to match my tiles?

Many paint brands can be custom tinted to match the existing tile color or a new color of your choosing. Bring a tile sample to the paint store.

What sheen should I use – gloss, satin, or flat?

For backsplashes, a satin or semi-gloss finish is ideal. It will be washable and subtle sheen enhances the tile pattern. Stay away from flat paints which could look dull.

How do I protect the paint from cooking splatters?

Avoid abrasive scrubbing and use a detergent suitable for glossy surfaces. Apply a couple coats of polyurethane for added protection from oils and heat.


Painting over backsplash tiles can refresh the entire look of your kitchen. With the right prep work and painting method, you can customize your old backsplash on a budget. Just be sure to use heavy-duty paints designed for high-traffic areas and properly prepare the tile surface so the paint will adhere. Follow the product instructions closely. Add a sealer topcoat if desired. Then get ready to enjoy your newly painted backsplash!