Can You Paint Tin Backsplash?

Painting a tin backsplash can completely transform the look and feel of your kitchen. With the right preparation and paint products, you can easily paint over an existing tin backsplash to give it a fresh, updated appearance. Here’s what you need to know about painting a tin backsplash in your kitchen.

Should You Paint a Tin Backsplash?

Painting over a tin backsplash can be a relatively easy and affordable way to update the look of your kitchen without undergoing a full backsplash replacement. There are a few advantages to painting a tin backsplash:

  • Cost savings – Buying paint and painting supplies is far less expensive than ripping out and replacing an entire backsplash. Painting lets you update on a budget.
  • Quick update – Prepping and painting a backsplash can be done over a weekend. It’s a much faster update than tile or other backsplash materials.
  • Customizable color – Paint allows you to choose any color you like to give your kitchen a fresh, new look.
  • Conceals flaws – Paint can conceal scratches, stains, and other imperfections in an older tin backsplash. It unifies the look.
  • DIY friendly – Painting tin is an easy, beginner-friendly project for DIYers looking to update their kitchen. No need to hire a contractor for this one!

So if your existing tin backsplash is structurally sound but looking dated, painting it can be a great way to makeover your kitchen without a major renovation.

How to Prepare a Tin Backsplash for Painting

Proper prep is crucial for getting great results when painting a tin backsplash. Here are the key steps:

  • Clean thoroughly – Use a degreaser to remove any built-up grease, oil or residue on the tin. Rinse well and let dry fully.
  • Sand lightly – Use 220 grit sandpaper to scuff up the shiny surface of the tin. This helps the paint adhere better.
  • Wipe clean – Wipe off any dust with a tack cloth after sanding. Make sure the tin is perfectly clean before priming.
  • Apply primer – Primer helps the paint bond tightly to the slick tin surface. Use a high-adhesion primer made for metal.
  • Caulk gaps – Use a flexible paintable caulk to fill any cracks, gaps or seams in the tin backsplash. This provides a smooth look.
  • Tape off – Use painters tape to mask off any adjacent surfaces you don’t want to get painted.

Taking the time to properly prep your tin backsplash will ensure the painted finish lasts for years to come.

What Type of Paint Works Best?

Choosing the right type of paint makes a big difference when painting a metal surface like tin:

  • Latex paint – Latex or acrylic paints are ideal for painting tin backsplashes. The flexible acrylic binders adhere well and resist cracking or peeling.
  • Metal paint – For best adhesion, look for paints specifically formulated for metal surfaces. The primers and finishes are designed to bond tightly.
  • Alkyd enamel – Oil-based alkyd enamels also perform well over tin backsplashes. The extra durable finish resists moisture, heat and scratches.
  • Spray paint – Opt for high quality spray paints designed for metal. Spraying creates an ultra smooth finish over tin.

Avoid using lower quality flat or matte interior paints as they may not adhere well or hold up to moisture. Stick with metal-specific paints or enamels.

Tips for Painting a Tin Backsplash

Follow these tips as you apply the paint for best results:

  • Use a high-quality mini paint roller designed for smooth surfaces. This avoids drips and uneven coverage.
  • Apply in thin, even coats allowing each coat to fully dry before adding another. Multiple thin coats look better than one thick coat.
  • If spraying paint, spray in a sweeping motion and avoid holding the can too close. Multiple light coats are better than one heavy coat.
  • Use a small high quality brush for cutting in around edges and corners. Avoid cheap disposable brushes.
  • Read the paint’s instructions carefully and abide by dry times between coats. Rushing the job can ruin the finish.
  • Consider using painter’s tape and plastic sheeting to mask off nearby walls, countertops and floors. Prevent drips and splatters.
  • Consider sanding very lightly between coats for an ultra smooth finish, but avoid over-sanding through the paint.

With the right prep and paint products combined with some careful technique, you can end up with a gorgeously repainted tin backsplash. Just take your time and follow the steps closely. Enjoy your kitchen’s fresh new look!

Frequently Asked Questions About Painting a Tin Backsplash

Can I use spray paint on a tin backsplash?

Yes, high quality spray paint designed for metal can work well for covering a tin backsplash, providing a smooth factory-like finish. Use light coats and proper ventilation.

What kind of primer should I use?

An adhesion promoting primer made specifically for metal is ideal, such as Rust-Oleum Automotive Metal Primer. This helps the paint grab onto slick tin surfaces.

Do I need to sand the tin before painting?

Lightly sanding provides the ideal preparation for painting tin. It scuffs up the smooth surface so the paint can adhere properly. Use 220 grit sandpaper and wipe clean before priming.

How long does it take for the paint to cure?

Check the paint manufacturer’s instructions, but typically painted tin backsplashes take 2-3 weeks to fully cure and reach maximum hardness and durability. Avoid cleaning or scrubbing the backsplash until the paint has cured.

What type of paint finish should I use?

Semi-gloss or satin finishes make the most sense for kitchen backsplashes. The subtle sheen is easy to keep clean but avoid gloss which shows imperfections. Matte or flat paints may not stand up to moisture.

Can I use the same paint on tin ceiling tiles?

Yes, the same metal-specific paints recommended for tin backsplashes will also adhere well to vintage tin ceiling tiles, helping restore their look. Proper prep and primer is still key.


Updating a tired tin backsplash doesn’t require a complete tear-out or expensive new backsplash installation. With some simple cleaning, light sanding, priming and painting using the right metal-specific paints, you can easily transform the look of your kitchen yourself on a budget and in very little time. Just be sure to follow the preparation, painting application and dry time recommendations closely for optimal results. In a weekend you can have a fresh new backsplash color.