Can You Paint Backsplash Tile in Kitchen?

Painting your kitchen backsplash is a fast and affordable way to give your space a brand new look without undergoing a full renovation. With the right prep work and paint products, you can easily paint existing ceramic, porcelain, or even glass backsplash tiles. Here’s what you need to know about painting kitchen backsplash tiles.

An Introduction to Painting Backsplash Tiles

Painting over existing backsplash tiles allows you to change up the color and look of your kitchen without removing the tiles. It’s a budget-friendly makeover that can be completed in a weekend.

Some key advantages to painting tiles instead of replacing them:

  • It’s inexpensive – Backsplash paint costs much less than new tile and installation.
  • It’s fast – Prepping and painting tiles takes less time than demo and replacement.
  • Minimal mess – Painting creates less debris and dust than a tile tear-out.
  • Customizable colors – Paint opens up unlimited color options vs standard tile colors.

Paint is an ideal backsplash solution if your tiles are structurally sound but aesthetically dated. However, some limitations to consider:

  • May require frequent touch ups
  • Doesn’t work well for heavily textured or porous tiles
  • Glossy tiles require special prep and primer
  • Darker paint colors show imperfections more

Overall, painting backsplash tiles can provide a fresh, new look for a fraction of the cost of new tile installation.

What Type of Paint Should You Use?

Choosing the right type of paint ensures proper adhesion and durability on backsplash tile:

  • Epoxy paint – A two-part paint that chemically bonds to surfaces. Provides the most durable finish for high-traffic kitchens.
  • Acrylic latex paint – General all-purpose latex paint. Used for indoor and outdoor projects. Durable and budget-friendly.
  • Enamel paint – A solvent-based paint known for its glossy, smooth finish. Ideal for glass, ceramic, or porcelain tiles.
  • Specialty tile paint – Formulated specifically for glazed and unglazed tile surfaces. Offers great adhesion and stain resistance.

For best results, use high quality acrylic latex or enamel paints designed for adhering to slick, non-porous materials like ceramic and porcelain. Avoid flat or matte paint finishes which can scuff easily in kitchens.

How to Prep and Paint Kitchen Backsplash Tiles

Painting over a tile backsplash isn’t too difficult but does require some key steps for success:

Clean the Surface

Use a degreasing cleaner or soap and water to thoroughly cleanse the tile and grout lines. This removes any grease, dirt, or grime that could cause poor paint adhesion.

Lightly Sand the Tiles

Use 220-400 grit sandpaper to very lightly scuff up the glazed tile surface. This etching promotes better paint bond. Be careful not to scratch or damage the tiles.

Apply Primer

Priming ensures maximum paint adhesion. Use a specialty tile primer made for slick surfaces like ceramic, porcelain, or glass.

Paint the Backsplash

Apply 2-3 thin, even coats of your chosen backsplash paint using a small paintbrush or foam roller. Allow each coat to fully dry before adding another.

Seal with Protective Clear Coat

Once paint is fully cured, apply 1-2 coats of polyurethane sealer to protect the finish.

Let Fully Cure

Give the paint at least 24 hours to fully cure before using kitchen. Avoid scrubbing or cleaning painted tiles for several days.

With proper products and techniques, it is possible to achieve a freshly painted backsplash that holds up well in the kitchen over time.

Tips for Achieving a Flawless Painted Tile Backsplash

Follow these helpful tips for getting the best results from your painted backsplash project:

  • Never paint over dirty tiles – clean thoroughly first
  • Apply painter’s tape around edges for clean paint lines
  • Use angled paintbrush to catch grout lines and corners
  • Work in small sections; don’t rush through project
  • Maintain wet edge to prevent lap marks as you paint
  • Let each coat fully dry before adding another
  • Lightly sand between coats for optimal adhesion
  • Work slowly and carefully around stove and outlets
  • Use drop cloth to protect countertops and floors
  • Finish with protective sealer for added durability

Take your time and don’t rush the painting process. Applying paint properly is key to achieving a smooth, cohesive backsplash makeover.

How Long Does Painted Tile Backsplash Last?

When properly prepped and applied, painted tile backsplashes generally last 1-3 years before needing touch ups. High-quality epoxy paints can last 5+ years with proper care.

Longevity depends on:

  • Type and quality of paint used
  • High-moisture areas may require more frequent repainting
  • Level of use and cleaning – heavy wear means more touch ups
  • Care taken during initial prep and application

To maximize durability:

  • Use bonding primer and quality paints
  • Apply protective sealer after painting
  • Avoid abrasive cleaners and scouring pads
  • Immediately clean up any splatters or stains
  • Expect to repaint every 2-3 years for best look

With extra care taken during preparation and application, it is possible to get many years of enjoyment from a painted tile backsplash. Proper maintenance and timely touch ups can refresh the look whenever needed.

Can You Paint Over Glass Tile Backsplash?

Glass mosaic tiles require some special considerations when painting, but can be painted with proper preparatory steps. Here is how to paint glass backsplash tiles:

  • Clean thoroughly with degreaser and rinse glass tiles
  • Lightly scuff surface using extra-fine (220+ grit) sandpaper
  • Apply 2-3 coats of specialty glass and tile primer
  • Use thin, even coats of quality enamel spray paint
  • Let paint fully cure for 24-48 hours
  • Apply protective sealant for added durability

The ultra-smooth glass surface needs to be properly etched and primed to accept paint. Enamel spray paints provide the most durable finish. Expect to do more frequent touch ups due to direct heat exposure and cleaning. With extra preparation, glass backsplash tiles can be painted effectively.

Common Questions About Painting Tile Backsplash

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about painting kitchen backsplash tiles:

Can you use regular latex paint on a backsplash?

Yes, high-quality acrylic latex paints work well for painting ceramic, porcelain, or glass backsplash tiles. Be sure to prime first.

Should you remove old grout before painting tiles?

No. It’s better to paint over existing grout lines for adhesion. Match grout color to your painted tiles.

How do you prep glossy ceramic tiles for painting?

Degrease and lightly sand smooth tiles to dull the surface for paint adhesion. Apply 2-3 coats primer.

Can you paint over cracked tiles?

It’s best to replace any cracked tiles before painting. Cracks will worsen over time and compromised paint finish.

Is painted tile backsplash waterproof?

No. Painted tiles are not waterproof. Seal with polyurethane to repel splashes and make cleanup easier.


Painting over existing backsplash tiles with acrylic latex or specialty tile paint provides an affordable way to refresh the heart of your kitchen. With proper cleaning, priming, painting, and sealing, even ceramic, porcelain, or glass tiles can be updated with long-lasting results. Use high quality prep products and paints, take your time applying multiple thin coats, and finish with a protective sealer for a durable finish. With some patience and the right approach, you can achieve a painted backsplash makeover that will look fresh for years to come.