Can You Paint Travertine Backsplash?

Prepping Travertine for Paint

Proper prep work is essential for a successful paint job over travertine tile. Here are the key steps:

Clean the Surface

Travertine is porous and prone to holding oils, dirt, and grime in its crevices. Use a degreasing cleaner to remove any built-up grease or residue. A mild dish soap and water solution also works well. Scrub the tiles and rinse thoroughly.

Sand for Better Adhesion

Lightly sanding travertine before painting roughens the surface so the new paint can adhere properly. Use fine (220-400 grit) sandpaper and sand in the direction of the tile grout lines. Vacuum up all dust.

Apply Primer

Priming is a must before painting travertine. Primers designed for tile work best. Apply a thin even coat of tile primer and let it fully dry. The primer coat helps the new paint better bond to the stone.

Choosing the Right Paint

When selecting paint for a travertine backsplash, you’ll want to consider:

Paint Type

High quality 100% acrylic latex paints work best on natural stone tiles like travertine. Oil-based paints and cheaper latex paints don’t adhere as well and are more prone to peeling or chipping over time.


A semi-gloss or satin finish often looks best for kitchen backsplashes. The subtle sheen is easy to keep clean but avoids being too shiny and slick looking.


With a neutral stone like travertine, the possibilities are endless for new paint colors. Bold hues can make the backsplash the focal point. For a more subtle update, choose a color in the same tone family as the natural stone.

Application Tips for Painting Travertine Backsplash

Follow these tips for getting flawless results painting over travertine tile:

  • Use a high-quality nylon or polyester brush for best coverage. Avoid foam brushes.
  • Maintain a “wet edge” by brushing from one grout line to the next without stopping. This avoids lap marks.
  • Roll the painted area with a short nap roller to smooth out brush strokes.
  • Apply two thin coats of paint rather than one thick one for a more durable finish.
  • Allow each coat to fully dry before adding another (usually 1-2 hours).
  • Carefully paint around the edges where the backsplash meets countertops or cabinets. Use painter’s tape if needed.

Caring for a Painted Travertine Backsplash

The right maintenance keeps your painted travertine tiles looking like new:

  • Allow the paint to cure fully for at least one week before cleaning. Avoid abrasive scouring pads.
  • Use a soft sponge or cloth with mild dish soap and warm water to clean. Rinse thoroughly.
  • Immediately wipe up any spills or splatters to prevent possible staining.
  • Reapply a fresh coat of paint periodically as needed when you see signs of wear. Spot paint any nicks or chips.

Key Benefits of Painting Travertine Backsplash

Painting travertine backsplash tiles offers many advantages:

  • Fast project – No need to demolish and install new tile. Painting goes quickly.
  • Budget friendly – Much less expensive than a full tile replacement.
  • Customizable – Paint any color you like versus natural stone color limits.
  • Facelift – An easy update that makes the space feel fresh and new.
  • Conceals flaws – Paint disguises any stains, pits, cracks, or uneven tile.

With proper prep and application, you can successfully paint a travertine tile backsplash. Just be sure to use the right painting products and techniques. This project can give dull, dated travertine a beautiful new look with any color scheme.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you use any paint on travertine?

No, not just any paint will adhere well long-term. Always use a high-quality 100% acrylic latex paint formulated for painting tile or natural stone. Avoid cheaper latex paints.

Does the travertine need to be sealed before painting?

Most experts recommend not sealing travertine prior to painting. Unsealed stone provides better adhesion for paint. The acrylic paint will act as a sealant.

Can painted travertine get wet?

Yes, painted travertine backsplashes can get wet and hold up fine. Allow the paint at least 1 week to fully cure first. 100% acrylic latex paint creates a water-resistant finish.

How long does painted travertine backsplash last?

With proper prep and application, painted travertine can last 3-5 years or longer before needing a refresh. High-quality acrylic paints create a quite durable finish on natural stone.

Does painting travertine backsplash increase home value?

Painting tiles can lightly increase resale value by improving the appearance and giving buyers more color options. But a full tile replacement adds more value if you want maximum ROI.


Painting travertine backsplash and shower tiles allows you to easily change up the color scheme and style. With some simple preparation and the right painting techniques, even beginners can achieve beautiful results. Be sure to use an adhesive primer and color-safe acrylic latex paint for the most durable finish. Maintain the painted travertine properly, and your revitalized backsplash will look freshly updated for years to come.