Can You Paint Backsplash? The Complete Guide

Backsplashes are an integral part of any kitchen design. Not only do they serve a functional purpose by protecting the walls from splashes and spills, but they also provide an opportunity to add visual interest and personality. With so many backsplash options available, from tile to metal and glass, one budget-friendly solution is paint. But can you paint a backsplash?

An Overview of Painted Backsplashes

Painting a backsplash is absolutely an option worth considering. With the right preparation and paint selection, a painted backsplash can be a cost-effective way to refresh your kitchen’s style. Here’s a quick overview of what you need to know:

  • Paint Type – Look for interior paints labeled as kitchen, bath, or high gloss enamel paints. These are formulated to stand up to moisture and cleaning.
  • Prep Work – Proper prep work is key. Clean the surface thoroughly and sand glossy areas to help the paint adhere.
  • Primer – Primer creates a uniform surface for the paint to stick to. Use a primer suited for the backsplash material.
  • Application – Roll on two coats of paint using an angled trim brush or mini foam roller. Allow proper drying time between coats.
  • Maintenance – Avoid abrasive cleaners. Touch up paint as needed. Plan to repaint periodically.

With the right approach, a painted backsplash can be a stylish, affordable option. The key is using quality paint and diligent prep. Read on for more details!

Choosing the Right Paint for a Backsplash

Choosing the appropriate type of paint is one of the most important steps to ensuring a successful painted backsplash. Here are the key considerations when selecting paint:

High-Gloss Enamel Paint

Enamel paints provide a durable, glossy finish that mimics the look of ceramic tile. The high-gloss sheen resists moisture, splatters, and stains. This makes it an excellent choice for backsplashes in kitchens and baths. Be sure to choose interior enamel paint rather than exterior.

Epoxy Paint

For the ultimate in durability, epoxy paints are extremely tough and waterproof. Often used for concrete garage floors, these industrial-strength paints bond tenaciously to surfaces. Professional application is recommended, but kits are available.

Bathroom and Kitchen Paint

Paints made specifically for kitchen or bath areas are another smart option. Look for mold and mildew resistance. The satin sheens help conceal splatters and water spots.

Latex vs. Oil-Based

Both latex and oil-based paints work for backsplashes. Latex dries faster and is easier to apply and clean up. Oil-based is more durable and provides a harder finish. Evaluate priorities and room usage to decide.

No matter what type of paint you choose, be sure it has satin, semi-gloss, or high-gloss sheen. These provide easy cleanability and surface durability in a kitchen environment. Matte and flat paints absorb stains and are hard to clean.

Prepping Different Backsplash Materials for Painting

To achieve the best painted finish, careful surface prep is crucial. Proper cleaning, sanding, and priming sets the stage for success. Prep steps can vary depending on the existing backsplash material:

Tile Backsplash

  • Clean thoroughly with a degreasing cleaner to remove any oil residue
  • Sand the glazed tile surface lightly to help the paint adhere
  • Apply a dedicated tile primer before painting

Stainless Steel Backsplash

  • Remove any oil buildup using degreaser or stainless steel cleaner
  • Lightly scuff the surface with fine grit sandpaper
  • Wipe clean then apply a bonding primer made for slick surfaces

Drywall or Plaster Backsplash

  • Fill any cracks or holes with spackle and let dry completely
  • Sand smooth and wipe away all dust
  • Apply drywall primer to create a uniform surface

Laminate Backsplash

  • Wipe down laminate with non-abrasive cleaner and rinse
  • Gently roughen surface with 150 grit sandpaper
  • Use oil-based bonding primer for best results

Wood Backsplash

  • Clean wood thoroughly then sand lightly with 220 grit sandpaper
  • Wipe away dust; use wood filler if needed for any holes
  • Prime with oil-based or stain-blocking primer

Pro tip: Always check for compatibility between your chosen paint and primer. Some paint types will not adhere well to certain primers.

How to Paint a Tile Backsplash

Let’s walk through the painting process for a tile backsplash step-by-step. With proper prep and technique, you can give tired tile a fresh new look with paint.

Supplies Needed

  • Paint (enamel, epoxy, or kitchen/bath paint)
  • Tile primer
  • Angled trim brush
  • Paint roller kit (4-inch mini foam roller)
  • Painter’s tape
  • Drop cloths

Prep Steps

  • Remove everything from counters and walls. Clean tile thoroughly.
  • Lightly sand glossy tile with 220 grit sandpaper to roughen.
  • Wash again to remove dust. Allow tile to fully dry.
  • Apply 1-2 coats of tile primer, allowing drying time between coats.

Painting Steps

  • Outline the perimeter with painter’s tape for clean edges.
  • Stir paint well. Pour some into a paint tray. Dip and roll the mini foam roller.
  • Use the angled brush for corners and edges. Roll paint in 3×3 foot sections.
  • Work top to bottom. Allow paint to dry 4-6 hours before re-coating.
  • Apply a second coat and remove tape once fully dry.

Follow all the manufacturer’s instructions for proper paint application, drying times, and cleanup. With some strategic elbow grease, a painted backsplash can yield gorgeous results.

Paint Finish Options for Backsplashes

Beyond just choosing the right type of durable paint, consider the aesthetic finish you want to achieve. Paint sheens, textures, and creative techniques allow for all sorts of one-of-a-kind backsplash looks:


A slick, shiny finish reminiscent of glass tiles or polished stone. Durable and reflective.


Subtler shine than high-gloss. More light diffusing for a softer impression. Withstands cleaning.


Real metal flakes or pearlescent sheens lend a glam vibe. Available in various hues.

Faux Finishes

Add dimension with sponge techniques. Textured roller paints mimic stucco, stone, etc. Use painters tape for patterns.


Gradating from light to dark paint evokes a stylish faded effect.


After painting, add antique character by lightly sanding edges and allowing some of the original finish to show through.


Use stencils and two paint colors to create a focal point tile design. Leaf patterns, geometric shapes, medallions offer variety.

Get creative and don’t be afraid to combine techniques. A distressed stenciled tile pattern in ombre metallic paint? Absolutely. The possibilities are endless!

Best Paint Colors for Kitchen Backsplashes

While personal preference ultimately determines paint color choice, some hues stand out as particularly fitting for kitchen backsplashes.


A crisp classic. Bright white paint reflects light and pairs beautifully with any cabinetry and countertop material.


Striking and dramatic on its own or as a bold accent color. Sleek and modern.


Deep blue offers a sophisticated nautical vibe. Gorgeous with brass hardware accents.

Light Gray

Subtler than white but just as versatile. Soft and modern. Calm and elegant.

Forest Green

For traditional kitchens. Earthy green makes tile pop. Complements natural wood tones.

Bright Red

Make a cheerful, retro-inspired statement. Coordinate with cherry, yellow, or black cabinets.

Metallic Gold

Glitzy gilt paint brings touch of mid-century flair. Stunning with dark cabinetry.


Warm orangey earth tones for a Tuscan style statement. Beautiful with wood countertops.

Muted Sage

Restful green with gray undertones. Pairs perfectly with marble or quartz counters.

The options are truly limitless when selecting a paint color. Tie to your cabinets, counters, flooring, and overall decor style. And don’t forget to have fun with it!

How to Maintain a Painted Backsplash

A painted backsplash requires some occasional maintenance to keep it looking its best. Follow these care tips:

  • Allow paint to cure fully for 30 days before cleaning. Use only light pressure.
  • Spot clean spatters ASAP using a non-abrasive sponge and mild soap solution.
  • Avoid harsh cleaners like bleach products, scouring compounds, or anything acidic.
  • Rinse backsplash thoroughly after cleaning. Blot dry with a soft cloth.
  • Reseal painted tile grout lines annually to prevent staining and moisture damage.
  • Touch up any nicks or scrapes in the paint as soon as possible. Dab on matching paint then blend.
  • Prep and repaint the entire backsplash every 2-3 years as needed to refresh the color.

Take care to keep moisture from pooling on painted backsplashes around the sink. Limit use of hanging rack attachments that can scratch the finish. With regular upkeep, a painted backsplash can maintain its beauty for years before needing redone.

Considerations Before Painting a Rental or Condo Backsplash

For renters or condo owners, painting a backsplash can provide a quick cosmetic upgrade. But before proceeding, considering the following:

  • Review lease terms or condo bylaws for any restrictions on alterations to units.
  • Speak with property management about your plans and get any required approvals in writing.
  • Choose paint colors and finishes that will appeal to future residents, not just your own tastes.
  • Prep properly, but avoid intensive changes like removing tile. Non-damaging methods only.
  • Be prepared to repaint it to its original finish when moving out. Some landlords may require this.
  • Document the backsplash condition thoroughly in photos/video before starting any painting project.
  • Opt for lower-commitment approaches like peel-and-stick backsplash tiles or removable wallpaper.

With extra care and communication, renters can often make reasonable backsplash updates. But be sure you understand any rules, reversibility requirements, and repainting responsibilities before proceeding.

Hiring a Professional to Paint a Backsplash

Painting your own backsplash can save money, but hiring a professional has advantages if it fits your budget:

Exceptional Results

Experienced painters have specialized tools, techniques, and skills that ensure a flawless finish.


A pro moves quickly and logically through all required prep and painting steps.

Problem Solving

A professional can address tricky issues with paint adhesion, priming, or achieving a smooth finish.

Custom Options

Hire a muralist or faux finish specialist for truly one-of-a-kind backsplash art.

Peace of Mind

Quality workmanship provides assurance and relieves the hassle of DIY trial and error.

When selecting a pro, read reviews and ask to see examples of their backsplash painting projects. Get a written contract outlining all services, fees, and timeline. Hiring out saves headaches while letting you relax and enjoy the beautifully transformed space.

FAQ About Painting Backsplashes

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about painting kitchen and bath backsplashes:

Can I paint over wallpaper on a backsplash?

It depends. Unpasted wallpapers may be paintable if they are firmly adhered. Avoid painting heavily textured or vinyl wallpaper. Removing wallpaper first is best.

Should I take down upper cabinets before painting a backsplash?

In most cases that isn’t necessary. Just mask off cabinets to protect them. Only remove cabinets if they sit directly on the backsplash surface.

How do I choose the right primer and paint sheen?

Use dedicated kitchen or tile primers. For paint, satin and semi-gloss enamels stand up to moisture and cleaning. High-gloss offers maximum durability.

Can I use painter’s tape on freshly painted backsplash edges?

Yes, after allowing the paint to fully cure for at least 24 hours. Remove tape carefully and slowly at a 180 degree angle to prevent pulling up paint.

Is it okay to get paint on wall outlets or switch plates?

Avoid painting over switches and outlets as much as possible. If needed, use a small brush to carefully cut in around them.

How long does painted backsplash paint last compared to tile?

With proper prep and maintenance, painted backsplashes typically last 2-3 years before needing redone. Tile backsplashes last significantly longer, often 10-20 years.

Can I paint a Formica laminate backsplash?

Yes, Formica and other plastic laminates can be painted, but require thorough deglossing and oil-based primer to ensure paint adhesion.

Achieve a Stylish, Cost-Effective Backsplash with Paint

Installing a brand new backsplash can be expensive, but painting offers cost savings while allowing your creativity to shine. With the right prep work, paint selection, application techniques, and occasional touch-ups, a painted backsplash provides a budget-friendly way to revive your kitchen’s look. Take your time with the process, have fun with different colors and finishes, and you can achieve stylish results. So go ahead, grab a brush and make that backsplash pop!


In conclusion, the answer to “Can you paint a backsplash?” is a resounding yes! With proper planning, preparation, materials, and application technique, painted backsplashes offer a stylish and cost-effective kitchen or bathroom upgrade. Carefully consider the paint type, finish, color, and prep steps needed for your particular backsplash surface. Enlist professional help if desired for best results. Maintain the backsplash properly once painted. For renters or condo owners, get pre-approval and understand any restoration requirements. Done right, a painted backsplash provides a fresh look that doesn’t require intensive remodeling. The possibilities are endless, so unleash your creativity and get painting for a beautiful DIY transformation!