Can You Paint Travertine Tile Backsplash?

Should You Paint Travertine Tile Backsplash?

Before painting travertine tile, think carefully about whether this is the best option. Here are some pros and cons to weigh:

Pros of Painting Travertine Tile

  • Inexpensive way to update the look
  • Wide range of color options
  • Can unify mismatched tiles
  • Conceals stains or dirt buildup

Cons of Painting Travertine Tile

  • Permanent change, hard to undo
  • Paint may peel or scratch off over time
  • Loss of natural pattern and texture
  • Still needs resealing to protect grout

Take into account how long you plan to stay in the home. Painting travertine tile is best suited for a short-term update. Over years of use, painted tile is likely to show signs of wear. For a long-lasting solution, consider replacing the tiles altogether.

Prepping and Painting the Tile

Proper prep is crucial for getting paint to adhere correctly to the travertine tile. Here are the key steps:


  • Remove any existing sealers or coatings with an appropriate stripper.
  • Clean the tile and grout thoroughly with a tile cleaner or baking soda paste.
  • Rinse well and allow to fully dry.


  • Lightly sand the tiles to scuff up the surface. This helps the paint adhere.
  • Avoid sanding too aggressively, which can damage the travertine.
  • Wipe away all dust after sanding.


  • Apply a bonding primer made for tile. This helps paint stick to the slippery travertine surface.
  • Allow the primer to fully cure per manufacturer instructions.


  • Apply 2-3 thin coats of interior latex paint, allowing proper drying time between coats.
  • Use a small paintbrush to neatly paint grout lines.
  • Consider a clear polyurethane top coat for added protection.

Painting Tile Backsplash Pattern Ideas

One advantage of painting travertine tile is you can get creative with patterns and designs. Here are some fun ideas:

  • Bold horizontal stripes: Use painter’s tape to create sharp lines in contrasting colors.
  • Moroccan tile motif: Paint decorative shapes in vivid hues for a bohemian vibe.
  • Stenciled patterns: Use a stencil to create intricate designs like vines, geometric shapes, or flowers.
  • Ombre effect: Blend your paint colors from light to dark for a soothing faded look.
  • Faux marble: Recreate the look of natural marble with white and gray paint.

Caring for Painted Travertine Tile

Painting travertine tiles requires some maintenance to keep them looking their best. Here are a few tips:

  • Avoid abrasive cleaners or scrubbing pads that can scrape off paint. Use a soft sponge with mild soap and water instead.
  • Reseal grout lines annually to prevent staining and moisture damage.
  • Consider applying a fresh coat of polyurethane sealer every 2-3 years for added protection.
  • Spot treat any damaged paint right away to prevent peeling or chipping.
  • Repaint periodically as needed when paint starts looking worn or dull.

Can You Just Paint Over Existing Tile?

Painting directly over existing tile often leads to peeling or chipped paint. The smooth, non-porous surface of travertine tile needs proper prep and primer to accept paint. Roughening the surface and applying a bonding primer allows the paint to properly adhere.

Skipping steps like sanding and priming means the paint will not bind well. Any moisture behind the tile can cause bubbling or flaking issues later on. Proper prep is essential for painted tile with lasting results.

Should I Remove Travertine Before Painting Backsplash?

Removing travertine tile before painting the backsplash is highly labor intensive and costly. In most cases, painting over travertine tiles is a simpler and cheaper option for a short-term update.

Here are some reasons you may want to take on full tile removal:

  • Damaged tiles: Cracked, chipped tiles should be replaced before painting.
  • Moisture issues: Signs of leaks or water damage under tiles. Fix these prior to painting.
  • Long-term durability: Removing tile allows installing a new backsplash built to last.

For temporary makeovers, painting over travertine tiles in good shape often provides satisfying results. Be sure to properly prep the surface. Also, expect to reapply fresh coats of paint periodically.


Painting over travertine tile backsplash offers an affordable way to refresh the look of your kitchen. With proper prep and application, travertine tiles can be painted successfully. Consider creative color and pattern options to make your backsplash uniquely yours. Just be aware painted tiles require extra care. With a few touch ups, your painted travertine backsplash can look fresh for years before needing a full replacement.