Can You Paint Peel and Stick Backsplash? The Complete Guide

Peel and stick backsplashes provide a convenient and affordable way to upgrade your kitchen décor. Often made from vinyl or other water-resistant materials, these backsplash “tiles” have an adhesive backing that allows you to stick them directly to your wall. No grout or special tools needed!

But can you paint a peel and stick backsplash if you want to change its look? The short answer is yes, you can paint over peel and stick backsplash tiles to create a customized look. However, there are some important factors to consider first.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about painting peel and stick backsplash tiles. We’ll discuss:

  • The pros and cons of painting peel and stick backsplash
  • What types of paint work best
  • How to properly prepare the tiles for painting
  • Paint application tips and techniques
  • How to seal and protect the painted backsplash
  • Ideas for painted backsplash designs

Let’s dive in!

Can You Paint Peel and Stick Backsplash?

The vinyl or other materials used to make most peel and stick backsplash tiles are fully paintable. So you can absolutely paint over them to change their look with a coat of colored paint.

Painting offers many advantages compared to a standard peel and stick backsplash:

Pros of Painting Peel and Stick Backsplash Tiles:

  • More color options – Choose any paint color to coordinate with your décor
  • Ability to create patterns – Paint stripes, geometric shapes, or murals
  • More luxurious look – Glossy painted tiles appear more upscale
  • Conceals flaws or damage – Paint over scuffs, stains, or imperfections
  • Cheaper than buying all new tiles – Reuse existing tiles
  • Easy to touch up if needed – Just spot paint any chips or marks

However, there are also some potential downsides to consider:

Cons of Painting Peel and Stick Backsplash Tiles:

  • Paint may not adhere well – Vinyl and other materials can be harder to paint
  • Risk of visible brush strokes – Paint application requires precision
  • Glossy paint can show imperfections – Any bumps or flaws will be visible
  • Labor-intensive process – Extensive surface prep and paint application
  • Can feel “plasticky” still – Won’t have texture of real ceramic tile
  • Dark colors show scratches – Lighter paint hides marks better

Preparing the tiles properly and choosing the right type of paint is key to avoiding issues with adhesion, visible brush strokes, and durability.

So as long as you go in with realistic expectations, painting can be a great way to refresh an outdated or damaged peel and stick backsplash on a budget. But it requires more precision and effort than simply applying the adhesive tiles.

Next, let’s look at which types of paint are best for the job.

What Kind of Paint Works Best for Peel and Stick Backsplash?

Choosing the right type of paint makes all the difference when painting a vinyl or plastic peel and stick backsplash.

Here are the best options to ensure good adhesion and durability:

1. Acrylic Enamel Paint

Acrylic enamel paints provide a hard, glossy finish that adheres well to non-porous surfaces like vinyl, plastic, and metal. This makes them an excellent choice for painting a peel and stick backsplash.

Oil-based enamel paints work too. But acrylic enamels have less odor and shorter dry times. Popular brands like Krylon, Rust-Oleum, and FolkArt offer acrylic enamel spray paints and brush-on acrylic enamels perfect for backsplash tiles.

2. Adhesion Primer

An adhesion primer creates extra grip for the topcoat paint. Applying a coat of primer formulated especially for plastics and metals helps the paint stick tightly to slick vinyl backsplash tiles.

Rust-Oleum Adhesion Primer is a great option before painting with acrylic enamels. Or you can choose an all-in-one bonding primer and paint like Krylon Fusion or Krylon Dual Superbond.

3. Epoxy Paint

For the most durable and water-resistant finish, consider painting peel and stick backsplash tiles with epoxy paint. Epoxies provide an extra-tough chemical bond and smooth glass-like coating.

Rust-Oleum RockSolid Metallic Finish or INSL-X Cabinet Coat are good epoxy options. Follow application directions carefully as epoxy can be tricky to work with.

4. Latex Paint

For painting backsplashes in lower traffic areas, standard interior latex paint works OK. It doesn’t adhere quite as well to vinyl and plastics. But latex paint is cheaper and easier to apply.

Opt for a higher quality 100% acrylic latex paint and use an adhesion primer first. Avoid flat finishes, which highlight imperfections. An eggshell or satin sheen latex paint hides flaws better.

Now that we’ve covered the best paint choices, let’s look at how to properly prep existing tiles before painting.

How to Prepare Peel and Stick Backsplash Tiles for Painting

To ensure the new paint adheres well and create a smooth painted surface, the backsplash tiles require extensive preparation before painting. Here are the key steps:

Clean the Tiles Thoroughly

Make sure all tiles are free of dirt, grease, soap scum, and any other residues. Use a degreasing cleaner or soap and water with a soft scrub brush. Rinse and allow to fully dry.

Sand Glossy Surfaces

For glossy tiles, sanding knocks down the slick surface so paint can grip better. Lightly sand using 220 grit sandpaper.

Repair Any Damage

Inspect tiles and repair any bumps, gouges, bubbling, or missing pieces with vinyl filler or patches. Sand repairs smooth.

Remove Loose Tiles

If any of the peel and stick tiles are already peeling up or no longer adhered tightly, remove and replace them before painting.

Use Adhesion Promoter

Wipe tiles with alcohol or acetone first. Then apply a plastic or metal primer like Krylon Fusion or Rust-Oleum Adhesion Promoter.

Fill Any Gaps or Grout Lines

For a seamless painted surface, fill any grout lines, gaps, or misaligned edges between tiles with painters caulk. Smooth with a wet finger before drying.

Add Base Coats

Apply 1-2 base coats of bonding primer like Krylon Dual Superbond or an adhesion promoting spray paint. This helps the final color coat stick.

Now the peel and stick backsplash is prepped and ready for painting!

Tips for Painting a Peel and Stick Backsplash

Painting the backsplash tiles requires care and attention to get professional looking results. Here are some key tips:

Use Short, Overlapping Strokes

Use several thin coats and apply paint in short, perpendicular strokes while slightly overlapping each pass. This helps hide any brush strokes.

Choose a Small Paintbrush

For cutting in around edges, use a quality synthetic bristle brush in 1-2 inch width. The small brush provides control for the tricky corners and edges.

Consider a Paint Sprayer

For large backsplash areas, a fine finish paint sprayer leads to a more seamless application without visible brush marks. Practice first on cardboard.

Work Top to Bottom

Paint upper tiles first, then work your way down to prevent dripping paint from staining lower rows.

Paint the Edges

Don’t forget to cover all exposed painted edges for a fully finished look.

Inspect Between Coats

Check for any drips, thin spots, or missed areas and touch up before applying the next coat.

Allow Proper Dry Time

Follow the manufacturer’s directions for dry time between coats. Drying too quickly can affect paint adhesion.

Apply a Clear Top Coat

For added durability and stain resistance, apply 1-2 coats of a clear acrylic sealer like Polycrylic after the paint fully cures.

Proper preparation and careful application allows you to paint a peel and stick backsplash that looks professionally done.

How to Seal and Protect a Painted Peel and Stick Backsplash

Once your peel and stick backsplash is painted, sealing it with a clear topcoat protects the painted surface from moisture, stains, and scratches.

Here are some tips for the best sealants to use and how to apply them:

Use an Interior Polyurethane Sealant

An interior water-based polyurethane like Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish provides excellent protection for a painted backsplash. It resists humidity, condensation, food splatters, grease, and abrasions better than most other clear coat options.

Allow the Paint to Fully Cure First

Don’t apply the sealant until the paint has dried for the manufacturer’s recommended cure time. Typically, enamels take 5-7 days to fully harden and cure.

Lightly Sand Before Sealing

For maximum adhesion, lightly sand the cured paint with 220 grit sandpaper before applying the protective sealant.

Apply 2-3 Thin Coats

Thin coats of polyurethane sealant prevent drips and bubbles. Recoat after 2-4 hours when dry.

Use a Foam Brush or Small Roller

A foam brush or 4-inch fine nap mini roller gives the best coverage for applying protective sealants on a backsplash.

Allow 48 Hours Before Use

Give the sealed backsplash at least 48 hours of cure time before using as normal. Then enjoy your beautifully painted and protected backsplash tiles!

Painted Backsplash Design Ideas

One of the great benefits of painting a peel and stick backsplash is the ability to create any patterned design imaginable. Here are some gorgeous and stylish backsplash paint ideas to inspire your project:

Metallic Gloss Finish

A sleek metallic gloss paint adds eye-catching glamour. Use masking tape to create a fun geometric design.

Faux Travertine or Limestone

Use sponges and rags to dab on gray and white glazes over a tan base coat. Looks like real stone!

Moroccan Tile Pattern

Paint on bold glossy colors in a mix of geometric shapes and ornate motifs.

Retro Patchwork Design

Paint each tile or section a different retro color like teal, pink, yellow, robin’s egg blue.

Faux Marble or Granite

Paint freehand veining and shading with watery paints over a solid colored base. Add speckles for realism.

Mosaic Tile Effect

Paint small squares of color to mimic ceramic or glass mosaic tiles. Outline each faux tile in a contrasting shade.

Brick Pattern

Paint horizontal and vertical stripes in shades of red, brown, and terracotta for a brick wall look.

Chalkboard Paint

Use black chalkboard paint and draw on it with chalk! Great for writing notes and messages.

Get creative with patterns, textures, shapes, and colors. The possibilities are endless for customizing a peel and stick backsplash with paint.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you use latex paint on a peel and stick backsplash?

Yes, latex paint can work but doesn’t adhere quite as well as enamels or epoxies. Make sure to thoroughly sand and prime the tiles first and use 100% acrylic latex paint for best results. Avoid flat sheens.

Do you have to sand peel and stick backsplash before painting?

Lightly sanding provides better paint adhesion by dulling the glossy surface. Use 220 grit sandpaper. Be careful not to sand through the vinyl coating.

Should primer be used before painting backsplash tiles?

Definitely use primer. Adhesion promoting primers create a strong bond between the paint and non-porous backsplash tiles.

How do you paint a backsplash to look like subway tile?

Paint the tiles white and use blue painter’s tape to mask off “grout lines” in a brick pattern. Remove the tape after painting the grout color.

Can you use spray paint on a backsplash?

Yes, spray paint works great! Use short sweeps and multiple thin coats. Adhesion promoter spray paint helps the color coat stick better.

How long does it take for paint to dry on a backsplash?

Refer to the product directions, but typically allow at least 24 hours between paint coats and 5-7 days for full curing. Then apply protective sealant.

Painting a peel and stick backsplash allows you to easily and affordably customize your kitchen décor. With the right paint products and application techniques, you can transform the look of your backsplash tiles. Get creative with paint to make a design statement!


Painting over existing peel and stick backsplash tiles offers a budget-friendly way to refresh your kitchen’s look. With proper preparation, high-quality paint, and careful application, you can achieve beautiful results. Pay attention to selecting adhesive paint formulas and priming tiles prior to painting. Apply multiple thin coats, allowing proper drying time between layers. And don’t forget to seal the finished design with a clear polyurethane for protection. With a little time and effort, you can paint a customized, eye-catching backsplash using affordable peel and stick tiles. So break out the brushes and paints and give your backsplash the makeover it deserves!