Can You Paint Over Ceramic Tile Backsplash?

Painting over ceramic tile backsplash can breathe new life into an outdated kitchen. With the right preparation and paint products, you can easily transform the look of your backsplash without undergoing a full renovation. Here is a detailed guide on how to paint over ceramic tile backsplash.


Ceramic tile backsplash provides a durable and water-resistant surface in kitchens. However, styles and tastes change over time. Painting over the tile is an affordable way to update the look without replacing the whole backsplash. With proper prep work and the right paint, you can paint over the glossy finish of ceramic tiles.

Painting over tile backsplash allows you to change the color scheme of your kitchen quickly. It also covers up any stains or damage on the existing tiles. The project can usually be completed over a weekend without professional help. The results will rejuvenate the whole look of your kitchen.

Benefits of Painting Over Ceramic Tile Backsplash

  • Cost-effective – Only requires paint and painting supplies, which are cheap compared to new tile.
  • Quick update – Painting the tiles allows you to change the look in just a weekend.
  • Customizable – Paint opens up many color options not available with ceramic tile.
  • Covers flaws – Painting hides any chips, cracks, discoloration or damages on the tiles.
  • Adds value – A fresh backsplash improves the look and value of the home for resale.

Preparing the Tile Surface

Proper preparation is crucial for the paint to adhere correctly to the glossy ceramic tile. Follow these steps to get the surface ready for painting:

Clean the Tiles

Use a degreaser cleaner to remove any oily residue or dirt on the tiles. Scrub well and rinse off any cleaner residue. Allow the tiles to fully dry.

Sand the Tiles

Lightly scuff sand the tiles with 220-grit sandpaper. This roughens up the glossy finish for the paint to bond properly.

Clean and Dry

Wipe the backsplash with a clean damp cloth to remove dust from sanding. Allow the tiles to fully dry again before priming.

Apply Primer

Use a high-adhesion primer specifically made for glossy surfaces. An etching or bonding primer will create a textured surface for the paint to cling to. Apply a thin even coat per the primer directions.

Choosing the Right Paint

The type of paint you use will determine how well it adheres and lasts on the tile backsplash. Consider these factors when selecting tile paint:


A satin or semigloss finish will make cleaning easier. Flat paints show flaws more. Add a polyurethane over flat paints for washability.

Enamel Paint

Tile enamel or epoxy paints provide a hard, glossy finish that mimics ceramic tile. These offer very durable results.

Acrylic Latex Paint

General all-purpose interior acrylic latex paints work well on tile. Opt for interior grades for durability and washability.


Pick a lighter tone for the backsplash instead of a deep or dark color. Dark paint is more likely to show scratches over time.

Application Tips for Painting Tiles

Follow these tips when applying the topcoat paint over the primed tiles:

  • Use a small angled sash brush for cutting in around edges and corners.
  • Use a medium nap roller to quickly roll on the paint over the broad backsplash surface.
  • Work in small sections and maintain a wet edge as you go to prevent lap marks.
  • Roll in different directions to ensure the paint fills any crevices and textures.
  • Apply two thin coats of paint for best coverage and durability.
  • Let the paint fully dry between coats according to manufacturer’s directions.

Curing and Cleaning Painted Tile

The paint will take a full two weeks to fully cure and become scratch resistant on the tile surface. Avoid cleaning the backsplash for 48 hours while the paint hardens thoroughly. After two weeks:

  • Use a soft sponge and mild soap and water to spot clean.
  • Don’t use any abrasive pads or scrubbers which might mar the surface.
  • Use painter’s tape when needed to protect the freshly painted tiles.
  • Reseal the grout lines regularly to prevent stains and moisture damage.

With the right prep and paint method, you can easily paint over ceramic tiles while retaining the functionality of the backsplash. Proper cleaning and care will help the renewed backsplash last for years before needing touch ups.

Frequently Asked Questions About Painting Tile Backsplash

Can I use regular wall paint on ceramic tile?

You’ll get better adhesion and durability using specialty tile paints like epoxy or tile enamel. Standard latex wall paint may scratch or peel off tile over time with cleaning.

How long does it take to paint a tile backsplash?

Plan on a full weekend to prep, prime, paint, and allow drying time between coats. The total active time is only about 6-8 hours but drying time extends the project.

Should I remove old caulk before painting tile?

Yes, old stained caulk should be removed and the grout lines recaulked after painting for a fresh look. Use painter’s tape to protect the new paint when re-caulking.

What sheen of paint is best for backsplash tiles?

A satin or semi-gloss finish offers the best durability for a kitchen backsplash. The higher sheen is also easier to wipe clean. Flat finishes will show dirt and flaws more over time.

Can I use Annie Sloan Chalk Paint on ceramic tile?

While popular for furniture and crafts, Annie Sloan chalk paint is not formulated to properly adhere to high-gloss ceramic tiles for a long lasting finish.

How do I protect painted tile from cooking splatters?

Avoid frying and sautéing directly under the backsplash which can splatter grease on the paint. Use removable adhesive sheets or painter’s tape strips when cooking messy dishes to protect the surface.


Painting over ceramic tile backsplash offers an easy and affordable way to quickly update your kitchen’s style. With proper preparation and application, you can paint tile backsplash with durable results. Pay attention to selecting appropriate paints and primers along with careful cleaning and maintenance once completed. In just a weekend, you can gain a fresh new backsplash to enjoy for years to come.