Can You Paint Tile Backsplash?

Painting over an existing tile backsplash can provide a quick and affordable way to update the look of your kitchen without undergoing a full renovation. With proper preparation and technique, you can easily transform dull, dated tile into a fresh new backdrop for your cooking space. Here’s what you need to know about painting tile backsplashes.

Should You Paint a Tile Backsplash?

Painting over tile has become a popular DIY project, but it’s not necessarily the right choice for every situation. Here are some pros and cons to consider:

Pros of Painting Tile

  • It’s budget-friendly. Buying paint is much cheaper than ripping out and replacing tile.
  • It’s fast. Prepping and painting tile can be done in a weekend versus the lengthy timeline of a full backsplash replacement.
  • You can drastically change the look. A coat of paint in a new color makes old tile look completely updated.
  • It’s reversible. If you don’t like the painted tile, you can revert to the original tile finish with some work.

Cons of Painting Tile

  • Preparation is key. Tile must be thoroughly cleaned and sanded for paint to properly adhere.
  • Paint may not last as long. Paint on tile could scratch, peel or fade faster than new tile.
  • Grout lines still show. Unlike new tile, you’ll still have discolored grout lines between tiles.
  • Some finishes don’t work well. High-gloss and special finishes like metallic are harder to paint.

Consider your specific backsplash situation. Painting is great for a temporary fix but may not be best for a permanent solution.

How to Prepare Tile for Painting

Proper prep work is crucial for painted tile that looks good and lasts. Follow these steps:

  • Clean the tile thoroughly with an all-purpose cleaner to remove grease, dirt and grime. Rinse well.
  • Sand the glazed tile surface with 220-grit sandpaper. This roughens the slick tile so the paint can adhere.
  • Wash sanded tile and let it fully dry. Fill any chips or cracks with spackle.
  • Wipe the tile down with a tack cloth to remove dust.
  • Apply painter’s tape around the edges to protect walls and countertops.

Taking time to correctly prep tile will help the new paint job last longer and look more professional.

How to Paint a Tile Backsplash

Once your tile is prepped, it’s time to start painting. Follow this process:

1. Prime the Tile

Use oil-based primer (like Kilz) to create a bonding layer for the paint. Apply an even coat with a paintbrush or foam roller and let the primer fully dry.

2. Apply Paint

Use acrylic latex paint in a satin, semi-gloss or gloss finish. Paint the tiles going in the same direction for the most seamless look. Let the first coat fully dry before adding a second coat for best coverage.

3. Finish with a Top Coat

For added protection, apply a clear acrylic top coat over the painted tile. This seals the paint and makes the finish more durable.

4. Remove Tape and Reattach Fixtures

Carefully remove all painter’s tape once the top coat has dried. Reinstall any fixtures like faucets, towel bars and switch plates.

With primer, paint and a top coat, your once dull backsplash tiles will look completely refreshed.

Tile Painting Tips and Tricks

Follow these tips for getting the best results from your tile painting project:

  • Opt for oil-based primer for the most durable foundation under latex paint.
  • Thoroughly stir paint before and during application for consistent coloring.
  • Add paint extender if the paint starts drying too quickly while working.
  • Work in small sections so the paint doesn’t dry before you can spread it.
  • Load your paint roller evenly and use long, even strokes.
  • Apply two thin paint coats rather than one thick one for better coverage.
  • Remove any paint that gets on the grout lines for the best finished look.
  • Let the paint cure for at least a week before cleaning the backsplash.

Can You Paint Tile Backsplash: FAQs

Still have some questions about painting over tile backsplashes? Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

What kind of paint should be used on tile?
Acrylic latex paint is best for painting ceramic, porcelain or glass tile. Avoid exterior and textured paints which don’t spread as evenly.

Do you have to remove old caulk before painting?
Yes, old cracked or stained caulk should be scraped out and replaced after painting for a finished look.

Can you use an HVLP sprayer to paint tile?
HVLP sprayers can work but generally don’t provide enough pressure to get paint into the grooves. Brushing or rolling is best.

Should tile be sealed before painting?
Sealing prior to paint isn’t mandatory but can provide extra protection, especially on porous surfaces like natural stone.

How long does painted tile last?
With proper prep and application, painted tile can last 3-5 years before needing touch ups, especially in low-moisture areas like backsplashes.

Can you paint over glossy or metallic tile?
Yes, but extra sanding is required so the paint can adhere. The original finish will still impact the end look.

Painting over tile backsplashes provides an easy weekend project for updating your kitchen’s style. With the right prep and materials, even beginners can achieve professional-looking results. If properly done, painted tile can stand up well for years before needing a refresh. Consider your goals and tile type to decide if painting your backsplash tiles is right for your space and style.


Painting over tile backsplash offers a budget-friendly way to quickly change the look of your kitchen. With proper cleaning, sanding, priming, and painting technique, you can take dull, dated tile and give it a fresh, new appearance. Preparation is key – be sure to thoroughly prep the tile so the paint will adhere. Use latex paint and a top coat for durability. Follow tips like removing grout haze and working in small sections to get the best finished look. Painting tile backsplash can give your cooking space an updated, eye-catching new backdrop that transforms the room.