Can You Paint Over Tile Backsplash in Kitchen?

Overview of Painting Over Tile Backsplash

Painting over tile backsplash allows you to update the color and style of your backsplash without going through the hassle and expense of replacing the tiles. It is a budget-friendly makeover option that can give your kitchen a fresh new look.

When considering painting over tile, it is important to use the right preparatory steps and paint materials formulated for tile surfaces. With some simple steps, you can paint over the glossy ceramic, porcelain or textured tile surfaces successfully. The end results can be spectacular, making your outdated backsplash look bright and renewed.

Benefits of Painting Over Tile Backsplash

Here are some of the benefits of painting over existing tile backsplash instead of a full tile replacement:

  • Cost savings – Painting over tile is significantly cheaper than retiling an entire backsplash area. Tile replacement can cost anywhere from $500 to $2000 depending on the tile type, labor costs etc. Painting costs a fraction in comparison.
  • Time savings – Prepping and painting a tile backsplash takes much less time compared to a full backsplash replacement. The project can usually be completed over a weekend.
  • Minimal mess and demolition – Painting over tile does not involve tearing down your existing tile. It creates minimal mess confined to the backsplash area.
  • Color change – With paint, you can update your backsplash to any color you wish for a completely new look. You are not limited to what tile choices are available.
  • Simplicity – The painting process is quite straightforward for DIY. Specialized tools or skills are not required.
  • Keeps existing tile – Paint allows you to preserve the existing tile while giving it a facelift. This avoids creating construction waste.

Things to Consider Before Painting Tile Backsplash

While painting tile backsplash can provide an instant makeover, there are some things to keep in mind:

  • The end result depends heavily on the proper prep work. So allow enough time for cleaning, sanding, priming etc.
  • Paint may chip or peel if not applied correctly following all preparation steps.
  • Grout lines will still be visible after painting. Color mismatches may stand out.
  • Glossy or ceramic tile does not hold paint well compared to textured tile.
  • Paint has to be periodically touched up to keep it looking fresh. It does not have the permanence of retiling.

As long as your expectations are set right, paint can be an excellent low-cost way to update backsplashes. Proper prep work is key for best results.

Step-by-Step Guide to Paint Over Tile Backsplash

Follow these steps to successfully paint over kitchen tile backsplash:

Clean the Tile Surface Thoroughly

  • Use a mix of TSP (trisodium phosphate) and warm water to scrub the backsplash. This removes any existing grease or soap buildup.
  • Rinse thoroughly after cleaning and allow the tiles to dry completely before moving to the next steps.

Sand the Tile (Optional)

  • For smooth or glossy tile, lightly sand the surface using fine 220-400 grit sandpaper. This helps the paint adhere better.
  • Avoid sanding textured tile as it can smooth out the texture. Wipe off all sanding dust.

Repair Cracks or Holes

  • Use spackling paste or caulk to fill any cracks, holes or missing grout in the tile.
  • Allow repairs to dry completely before priming or painting.

Prime the Surface

  • Prime the tiles using a specialized tile primer or bonding primer. This helps the paint stick.
  • Allow the primer coat to dry fully before painting.

Paint a Base Coat

  • Paint a base coat using interior latex paint meant for high-traffic areas.
  • Apply in a crisp, even coat using overlapping strokes. Work in 2-3 ft sections.
  • Let the base coat dry fully before applying a second coat.

Apply Second Coat

  • For best coverage, apply a second coat of latex paint in the same way as the first.
  • Use a small angled brush for hard to reach grout lines or edges.
  • Allow the final coat to cure for 24-48 hours before use.

Seal and Protect the Paint

  • Once fully cured, apply 2-3 thin coats of polyurethane sealer using a foam brush.
  • The sealer protects the finish and makes the surface washable.

With proper preparation and using the right painting materials, tile backsplashes can be given an amazing makeover. Follow all steps closely for best results. Painting tile yourself can save thousands over a professional re-tiling job.

FAQs About Painting Over Tile Backsplash

What type of paint adheres best to kitchen tile?

Interior latex paints designed for high-traffic areas tend to adhere better and last longer on tile than regular wall paints. Look for an interior paint with built-in primer that is formulated for kitchens and bathrooms.

What about the grout lines when painting over tile?

Depending on the color of your grout, you may need multiple coats of paint to cover grout lines evenly. Alternatively, you can apply a grout pen in a matching color after painting to disguise existing grout lines.

How long does the painted tile backsplash last?

With proper prep and sealing, painted tile backsplashes can last 3-5 years with periodic touch-ups. Glossy tiles may show signs of wear sooner than textured tiles. Proper cleaning is important for longevity.

Can you paint over cracked or missing grout?

Yes, repairs should be made before painting. Use caulk or spackling for small cracks and missing grout areas. Allow all repairs to dry thoroughly before painting.

Should tile be sanded before painting?

Lightly sanding smooth, shiny tiles helps paint adhere better. But avoid sanding textured tiles as it can smooth out the texture that paint needs to grip. Wipe away all sanding residue before priming.


Painting over existing backsplash tile offers an affordable way to give your kitchen a new look and feel with just a weekend of work. With proper preparation like cleaning, priming, repairs and using the right paint, tile surfaces can be painted successfully. Pay attention to details in each step for best long-lasting results. Painting tile backsplash can refresh the kitchen while avoiding the cost and mess of a full tile replacement.