Can You Paint Porcelain Tile Backsplash?

Painting a porcelain tile backsplash can completely transform the look of your kitchen. With the right prep work and paint, you can easily update outdated tile or change the color scheme of your backsplash. Here is what you need to know about painting porcelain tile backsplashes.

Overview of Painting Porcelain Tile

Porcelain tile is very durable and low maintenance. The impervious glazed surface resists stains, scratches, and moisture. However, the glossy finish can also show dirt, grease, and grime very easily. Over time, the grout lines may also become dingy and discolored.

Painting porcelain tile allows you to update the color and completely change the look of your backsplash. With proper surface preparation, the right paint, and careful application, you can achieve a smooth, updated backsplash. The process does take some time and effort to do correctly, but the payoff can be dramatic.

Benefits of Painting a Porcelain Tile Backsplash

There are several advantages to painting porcelain tile:

  • Cost-effective update: Painting tiles is much cheaper than replacing them. You can upgrade the look of your kitchen for a fraction of the cost.
  • Customizable color: Paint allows you to choose any color you want for your backsplash. You can match your cabinets, walls, or counters.
  • Hides imperfections: Paint will conceal any chips, cracks, or discoloration in the existing tile. It provides a uniform, flawless-looking finish.
  • Quick update: Painting tile is a DIY-friendly project that can be completed over a weekend. No need to wait for new tile installation.
  • Refreshes grout: The paint can give dingy grout a fresh, clean appearance. No need to re-grout.

Preparing the Surface

Preparing the tile properly is the most important step to ensure the paint adheres. Follow these steps:

  • Clean the tile thoroughly with an all-purpose cleaner or degreaser. Grease and dirt will prevent proper adhesion.
  • Sand the glazed tile surface with 220-grit sandpaper. This scuffs up the glossy finish so the paint can grip.
  • Wash again and let the tile dry completely. Any moisture will make the paint bubble and peel.
  • Apply a bonding primer made for tile. Two coats are recommended to seal and prep the non-porous surface.
  • Use painter’s tape around the edges for a clean paint line.

Proper prep leads to better adhesion and a smooth painted finish that will last.

Choosing the Right Paint

The type of paint you use is critical for getting an durable finish:

  • Use high quality 100% acrylic latex paints designed for tile or masonry surfaces. Avoid cheaper vinyl and craft enamels.
  • Epoxy paint is another excellent option for porcelain tile. The two-part formula bonds tenaciously.
  • Get paint with built-in primer to simplify the process.
  • Flat or satin finishes hide imperfections better than gloss. Semi-gloss is good for wiping.
  • Add a textured paint additive for more grip on backsplashes. This hides flaws in grout too.

Stick with major brands like Behr, Rustoleum, Benjamin Moore, or Krylon that offer paints formulated for tile and ceramics.

Application Tips

Follow these tips when applying the paint:

  • Use a high quality roller and angled brush for cutting in around edges and corners.
  • Roll on paint in “W” and “M” patterns for even coverage. Work in 3 x 3 foot sections.
  • Work methodically and maintain a wet edge to prevent lap marks and visible brush strokes.
  • Do 2-3 thin, even coats allowing proper drying time between coats. More is better than thick single coats.
  • Inspect from multiple angles to ensure you don’t miss any spots. Porcelain can hide imperfections.
  • Consider masking off walls and cabinets for easier touch up. Removed painter’s tape promptly before drying.

Take your time with the application for a smooth finish. Proper drying between coats also prevents drips or runs in the paint.

Curing and Cleanup

  • Let the paint cure fully for several days before use. Consult manufacturer instructions. Do not scrub or clean for at least 5-7 days.
  • Wash painter’s tape residue with warm, soapy water. Do not allow tape adhesive to dry on tile.
  • Avoid abrasive cleansers that can damage the painted surface. Use soft sponges and microfiber cloths.
  • Touch up any paint drips or mistakes. Porcelain can highlight flaws. Roll on touch ups versus brushing.

With proper curing time, the paint will fully harden into a durable, wipeable finish for your backsplash.

Maintaining the Painted Tile

Painted porcelain tile requires a bit more maintenance than original tile:

  • Use gentle cleaners and soft materials to clean the backsplash. Avoid harsh chemicals and scouring pads.
  • Rinse backsplash thoroughly after cleaning. Residual cleaners can break down paint over time.
  • Reseal painted tile every 1-2 years with a clear acrylic sealer for added protection.
  • Touch up any damaged paint as soon as possible to prevent moisture getting under the paint.

Take care when cleaning and do periodic touch ups to get the longest lasting finish.

Pros and Cons of Painting Porcelain Tile

Painting porcelain tile backsplashes offers many benefits, but also has some downsides to consider:


  • Less expensive than new tile
  • Easy weekend DIY project
  • Choose any color you want
  • Conceal flaws and updates grout
  • No demolition or re-tiling


  • Surface prep is time consuming
  • Risk of chipping or peeling if not prepped properly
  • Paint may wear faster than original tile
  • Needs occasional resealing and touch ups
  • Glossy porcelain is harder to paint than ceramic

Overall, with the right prep and application, painted porcelain tile can provide a like-new backsplash on a budget. Take time to ensure proper adhesion and durability.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use latex or acrylic paint?

Yes, 100% acrylic latex paint formulated for tile and masonry works best. Avoid cheaper craft and vinyl paints.

How long does the paint last?

With proper surface prep and application, painted porcelain tile can last 3-5 years or longer before needing touch ups. Use high quality paint and reseal occasionally.

Does the tile need to be sanded?

Yes, sanding the glazed tile provides necessary grip for the paint. Always scuff sand porcelain before painting.

Can I use a paint sprayer?

Paint sprayers can be used but require masking off the entire area to prevent overspray. Rollers give more control for full coverage.

Can I paint over the existing grout?

Yes, painting over discolored grout is a good way to refresh the overall backsplash. Be sure to thoroughly clean grout first.


Painting a porcelain tile backsplash allows you to refresh the color and style of your kitchen for just a fraction of the cost of new tile installation. With proper preparation and application, painted porcelain tile can provide a durable, custom finish. Pay close attention to cleaning and surface prep before painting. Use high quality acrylic latex paint and tools for the most seamless results. Maintain the finish by avoiding abrasives, resealing occasionally, and doing touch ups as needed. With some effort and the right approach, you can achieve an updated backsplash on a budget.