Can You Paint Tile Backsplash in Kitchen?

Painting the tile backsplash in your kitchen can definitely upgrade the look, but it’s important to consider a few things before breaking out the paintbrushes. With the right prep work and techniques, you can paint over existing tile to give your backsplash a fresh new look.

Should You Paint Tile Backsplash in Kitchen?

Painting over tile backsplash can offer a quick and budget-friendly way to update the look of your kitchen. Some key advantages of painting tile include:

  • Lower Cost – Buying paint and painting supplies is much cheaper than removing and replacing tile.
  • Simple Process – Painting tile is a relatively easy DIY project for beginners. No need to deal with messy tile demolition.
  • Fast Results – Painting goes quicker than retiling and allows you to complete a kitchen refresh over a weekend.
  • Customization – Paint opens up many color options not available with ceramic tile alone. Get creative with patterns or designs.
  • Easy Touch-ups – If your painted tile gets damaged down the road, you can spot paint to fix chips or scratches. Matching new tile is harder.

However, there are a few downsides to consider as well:

  • Durability – Painted tile is less durable than original tile and more prone to chipping or wearing over time, especially in high traffic kitchen areas.
  • Texture Change – Paint can slightly smooth over the original tile texture depending on coats applied.
  • Permanence – Painting tile is harder to reverse than using tile decals or stencils.
  • Resale Value – Painted tile may turn off some home buyers who prefer original surfaces. Proper prep helps painted tile wear better long-term.

Overall, painting tile backsplash can make sense for short-term upgrades, rental properties, or if you’re selling soon. But for permanent kitchens it’s often better to splurge on new tile that will last.

How to Prepare Tile for Painting

Proper prep work before painting is crucial for getting paint to properly adhere and look smooth on tile. Here are key steps:

  • Clean Thoroughly – Use a degreasing cleaner or baking soda paste to remove all grease, dirt and grime from the tile surface and grout lines. Rinse well.
  • Sand Lightly – Use 220 grit sandpaper to very lightly scuff up the glossy tile surface. This helps the paint bind better.
  • Fill Any Gaps or Holes – Use caulk or epoxy filler to patch any missing grout or uneven spots so they don’t show under the paint.
  • Prime – Apply a high adhesion primer made for tile and masonry. This promotes good paint bonding.
  • Degloss Previously Painted Tile – If repainting already coated tile, degloss the old paint using sandpaper so the new paint sticks.

Proper prep removes any barriers between the paint and tile surface. When done correctly, you can help paint adhere smoothly and permanently onto the tile.

How to Paint a Tile Backsplash

Once your tile is prepped, you can move onto the painting process. Follow these tips:

Choose Appropriate Paint

Pick a high-quality enamel paint specifically formulated for tile, metal, and masonry surfaces. Latex or acrylic paints may not bond as well. Adding a bonding additive can further improve adhesion. Purchase enough paint to fully cover the backsplash area with 2-3 quality coats.

Apply Primer

Use a small foam roller or angled brush to apply a coat of tile primer. Cover all surfaces including the grout lines. Let the primer dry completely. Priming ensures better paint coverage.

Paint Grout Lines First

Use painter’s tape to mask off tiles if needed. Take a small brush and paint all grout lines with your topcoat paint first. This allows the grout to be completely coated.

Roll/Brush on Top Coats

Apply 2-3 coats of paint using a small foam roller or angled brush, letting each coat fully dry before adding the next. Roll or brush in the same direction for smooth results without blotchiness. Thin coats work better than thick.

Remove Tape and Touch Up

Carefully remove any tape right after painting before the paint dries. Use a small brush to smooth out any uneven edges or missed spots.

Seal with Polyurethane (Optional)

For extra durability, apply 1-2 thin coats of water-based satin polyurethane. This adds protection and makes cleaning easier.

Be sure to maintain excellent ventilation while working with paints and primers indoors. With the right tools and proper technique, you can achieve an updated backsplash look with paint for a fraction of the cost of new tile.

Q&A About Painting Tile Backsplash

Can you use any paint on tile?

No, for good bond and performance on tile you need paint specially formulated for slick non-porous surfaces like tile, metal and laminate. Enamel paints work best. Avoid standard latex or acrylic paints.

What kind of primer do you use on tile?

Use a high-adhesion primer made specifically for painting tile and masonry. Primers like XIM Tile Prime create a tacky surface for paint to stick to. Make sure to apply primer evenly across all grout lines.

Should tile be sanded before painting?

Lightly sanding with 220 grit sandpaper is recommended before painting to help “tooth” the slick tile and remove any gloss for better paint adhesion. Be careful not to scratch the tiles. Just a quick scuff is needed.

How long does it take paint to dry on tiles?

At 70°F and 50% relative humidity, most tile paints dry to the touch within 1-2 hours. Full cure can take up to 7 days. Lower temps, higher humidity or thickness of coats extends drying time. Adequate airflow helps speed up drying.

Should I use painter’s tape when painting tile?

Yes, using masking tape and painters plastic to cover borders, countertops, and adjacent surfaces is recommended to prevent paint dripping and splattering. Remove tape immediately after painting before the paint dries.

Can you use bathroom paint on a kitchen backsplash?

Any quality tile and masonry enamel paint formulated for high moisture areas like bathrooms will also work great on kitchen backsplashes. Just be sure to properly prep and prime the tile first.

How do I seal painted tile?

For added protection in kitchens, applying 1-2 coats of water-based polyurethane sealant over the fully cured paint provides an easy-clean barrier while maintaining the finish. Allow the paint to cure fully first before sealing.


Painting over existing tile backsplash offers a quick, affordable way to refresh the look of your kitchen. With proper preparation, high-quality paint, and careful application, you can achieve a smooth revitalized backsplash surface. Just keep in mind painted tile requires extra care compared to original tile. For a long-lasting finish, consider hiring a professional painter experienced with tile surfaces. With some effort and TLC, a painted tile makeover can give your kitchen just the face lift you want.