Can You Paint Ceramic Backsplash Tiles?

Painting ceramic backsplash tiles can freshen up your kitchen’s look, but it does require some preparation and care to get it right. Here’s what you need to know about painting ceramic tile backsplashes.


Yes, you can paint ceramic backsplash tiles with the proper prep work and paint. Ceramic tile is very durable and holds up well to painting. The key is using a primer made for tile and high-quality acrylic latex paint. With the right materials and techniques, you can give your old backsplash a makeover.

Benefits of Painting Ceramic Tile

Painting ceramic backsplash tiles offers a few advantages:

  • Low Cost – It is much cheaper than re-tiling or installing a new backsplash. Painting tiles costs a fraction of replacement.
  • Quick Project – Prepping and painting ceramic tile can usually be accomplished in 2-3 days. New tile installation takes much longer.
  • Easy Update – A fresh coat of paint lets you change the color and look quickly. It’s a simple kitchen update.
  • No Mess or Demo – You don’t have to rip out and replace the existing tile. Painting creates no dust or tear-out mess.


Proper prep is crucial for getting paint to adhere correctly to the slick ceramic tile surface. Here are the key steps:

  • Clean – Use a degreasing cleaner on the tiles to remove any oil, grease or soap residues. Rinse thoroughly.
  • Sand – Lightly scuff up the glazed tile surface with 220 grit sandpaper. This helps the paint bond.
  • Prime – Apply a primer made for ceramic tiles, like Rust-Oleum Tile Transform Primer. Allow to fully dry.
  • Caulk – Use acrylic latex caulk to fill any cracks or gaps between tiles. Smooth with a wet finger. Let dry.

Choosing Paint

The right paint is essential for achieving a durable finish:

  • Use interior acrylic latex paint. It adheres best and holds up to moisture.
  • Opt for a satin, eggshell or semi-gloss finish. They are more washable and scrubbable.
  • Enamel paint also works well and provides a hard, glossy finish.
  • Buy the highest quality paint you can. Budget or cheap paints are less durable.
  • Use paint and primer formulated for tile and masonry for best results.

Painting Techniques

Follow these tips when applying the paint:

  • Use a small nylon/polyester brush for grout lines and edges. Apply paint carefully.
  • Use a mini foam roller for applying paint to the center of tiles. Roll gently to avoid excess paint.
  • 2-3 coats are typically needed for good coverage and an even look. Allow proper drying between coats.
  • Paint in sections, completing 1-2 tiles at a time, to prevent lap marks. Keep a wet edge.
  • Roll/brush in the same direction for a neat appearance.

Curing and Sealing Paint

Once the paint has fully cured, sealing it will improve durability:

  • Allow at least 24-48 hours for the paint to fully cure and harden before cleaning or sealing.
  • Use a clear acrylic sealer formulated for tile and masonry. This adds protection.
  • 2-3 coats of sealer ensure good coverage. Allow proper drying between coats.
  • Buff with a soft cloth between coats for a smooth surface.
  • Avoid washing or heavy cleaning for at least 1 week to allow paint to fully harden.

Maintaining the Finish

Once properly cured and sealed, painted ceramic tile backsplashes are quite durable:

  • Use mild cleaners – Avoid harsh chemicals and abrasives.
  • Gentle scrubbing – Use a soft sponge or cloth to avoid scratching.
  • Reseal yearly – Renew sealer annually for added protection.
  • Touch up – Immediately fix any chips in paint to prevent damage spread.
  • Moisture – Allow extra curing time if in a wet area before cleaning.

With the proper prep and paint techniques, a painted ceramic tile backsplash can look fresh and new again. Just take care with cleaning and maintenance to keep your new paint job looking its best.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I paint over cracked or damaged ceramic tiles?

It’s best to replace any cracked, chipped or badly damaged tiles before painting. The paint will not hide flaws in damaged tiles. Lightly cracked tiles can be filled with caulk before painting.

What kind of paint adheres best to ceramic tiles?

Interior acrylic latex paints formulated for tile provide the best adhesion and durability. Be sure to use a primer made for tile and masonry as well.

How long does painted ceramic tile last?

With proper prep and application, painted ceramic tile can last 3-5 years or more. High-quality paint, sealing and gentle cleaning will maximize the life of the finish. Reapply new coats of paint and sealer as needed.

What’s the best way to apply paint smoothly on ceramic tile?

Using a small nylon/polyester brush for the grout lines and a mini foam roller for the center of tiles gives great results. Roll or brush gently in the same direction.

How soon can I wash the tile after painting it?

Allow the paint at least 24-48 hours to cure before cleaning. Avoid abrasive scrubbing. An additional clear sealer coat also helps protect the paint.


Painting over ceramic backsplash tile allows you to refresh the look of your kitchen easily and affordably. With proper products, preparation, application and care, a painted ceramic tile backsplash can look crisp and new again. Carefully following each step will help ensure your new tile paint job lasts for years before needing a refresh. With a little time and effort, you can paint tired ceramic backsplash tiles and give your kitchen an updated, clean appearance.