Can You Paint Plastic Backsplash?

Painting a plastic backsplash can refresh the look of your kitchen without the cost of full replacement. With proper preparation and technique, you can achieve an updated, custom look with a simple coat of paint. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to paint a plastic backsplash.

Assessing Your Current Backsplash

Before painting, take time to examine your existing plastic backsplash. Consider the following:

Type of Plastic

  • ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) plastic is paintable. Polyethylene and polypropylene plastics do not accept paint well. Confirm the plastic type if possible.


  • Plastic should be free of grease, soap scum, and other residues. Wash thoroughly before painting.
  • Look for cracks, peeling areas, loose edges. Repair any damage for best paint adhesion.
  • Smooth, glossy surfaces need extra preparation (see next section).


  • Painting dark colors over light plastics gives better coverage than light over dark.
  • Paint with primer tinted close to your final shade for opaque, vivid topcoat color.

Preparing the Surface

Proper prep work is crucial for paint to properly adhere to plastic:


  • Wash backsplash with mild detergent like dish soap and water. Rinse thoroughly.
  • Remove any mildew or soap scum with a bathroom cleaner. Disinfect if needed.
  • Let dry completely before priming or painting.


  • For smooth plastic, lightly sand surface with 220 grit sandpaper. This etches plastic for better adhesion.
  • Avoid over-sanding. Go easy around edges and corners.
  • Wipe away sanding dust with tack cloth.


  • Prime with a bonding primer made for plastic, like Krylon Fusion.
  • Apply in thin, even coats following can directions.
  • Let dry completely before painting.

Choosing Paints and Tools

Select the right paints and tools for a professional-looking painted plastic backsplash:

Paint Types

  • 100% acrylic latex paints offer durability and color options.
  • Enamel paints provide a glossy, scrubbable finish.
  • Specialty plastic paints bond tightly for long wear.

Brushes and Rollers

  • Use high-quality synthetic bristle brushes in angled, trim, and wall brush types.
  • Mini foam rollers apply thinner, smoother coats on flat areas.
  • Buy disposable roller covers to avoid cleanup hassles.

Other Helpful Tools

  • Painters tape for crisp edges and protecting surfaces
  • Tray and roller grid for pouring paint
  • Drop cloths to protect floors and counters

Painting Techniques

Follow these tips for successfully painting a plastic backsplash:

Work Top to Bottom

  • Start at the top and work down to avoid drips messing up finished lower areas.

Apply in Thin Coats

  • Plastic shows brush strokes easily. Roll or brush on thin, even coats.
  • Allow proper dry time between coats as directed by paint.

Cut In Carefully

  • Use angled trim brush to cut in around edges and corners.
  • Work slowly for neat, defined edges. Let cut-in areas dry before rolling.

Roll On Flat Areas

  • Use mini foam roller to quickly cover flat plastic panels between cut-in edges.
  • Maintain light pressure for smooth results with no bumps or bubbles.

Remove Tape Promptly

  • Carefully pull off painters tape immediately after painting before the paint fully dries.
  • Pull tape back over itself slowly. This avoids peeling up fresh paint.

Allow Full Cure Time

  • Let paint cure fully before cleaning, at least 3-7 days.
  • Cure times vary, so read your paint directions.

Maintaining Your Painted Backsplash

Once your plastic backsplash has a fresh coat of paint, proper care will keep it looking its best:

  • Allow paint at least one week to fully cure before cleaning. Use only gentle soap and water.
  • Avoid abrasive scrubbers or harsh cleaners which can damage the painted surface.
  • Immediately wipe up any grease splatters or cooking residues to prevent staining.
  • Re-apply a fresh coat of paint periodically as needed when you notice signs of wear. Spot paint any nicks or chips as soon as possible to prevent peeling.

With the right preparations and techniques, painting a plastic backsplash is an affordable DIY upgrade for your kitchen. Follow this guide for best results transforming the look of your backsplash with a simple coat of paint.

Frequently Asked Questions About Painting a Plastic Backsplash

Can all plastics be painted?

No, some plastics like polyethylene and polypropylene do not accept paint well. Acrylic plastics like ABS are paintable. Check the plastic type before painting if possible.

Does the paint need a primer?

Yes, priming creates a bond between the plastic and paint for better adhesion and durability. Use a plastic primer.

How do I get paint splatters off the backsplash?

Wipe up splatters immediately before drying using a damp cloth. Avoid abrasive scrubbing on painted plastic.

How long does it take for the paint to cure?

Most paints take 72 hours to fully cure. Avoid cleaning or scrubbing until the paint has cured completely, typically 3-7 days.

What kind of paint adheres best to plastic?

100% acrylic latex and enamel paints formulated for plastic provide maximum adhesion and durability. Specialty plastic paints are also available.


Painting a plastic backsplash allows you to refresh your kitchen’s style without replacing the entire backsplash. With proper cleaning, sanding, priming, and painting technique, even glossy plastic can be transformed into a custom, painted focal point. Allow adequate dry time between steps, use specialized plastic paints and primers, and care for the finished surface to enjoy a revamped backsplash that withstands daily use. With a little time and effort, painting can make over an outdated plastic backsplash at a fraction of the cost of new tile or panels.