Can You Use Chalk Paint on Tile Backsplash?

Chalk paint has become an increasingly popular option for DIYers looking to transform furniture and home decor on a budget. With its matte finish and ability to adhere to many surfaces with little prep work required, chalk paint is an accessible way to refresh your space. But can chalk paint be used to update tile backsplashes as well? Here is what you need to know about using chalk paint on tile.

What is Chalk Paint?

Chalk paint, also known as mineral paint or milk paint, is a water-based paint made using chalk as a base. Traditional recipes blended chalk with linseed oil, but most modern commercial chalk paint formulas rely on latex paints. Chalk paint delivers a signature matte finish and can be easily distressed to create a vintage, worn-in look.

Some key benefits of chalk paint include:

  • Minimal Prep Work – Chalk paint adheres well to surfaces with little sanding or priming required beforehand. This makes it a quick and easy paint for beginners.
  • Versatile Formula – Chalk paint can be used on a wide array of surfaces – wood, metal, concrete, and more. This versatility is part of its appeal.
  • Distressing Capabilities – The chalky finish distress well, allowing DIYers to create an aged, chippy look with ease.
  • Environmentally-Friendly – Many chalk paints use low-VOC formulas, making them a good option for the environmentally-conscious.

Using Chalk Paint on Tile Backsplashes

Chalk paint can technically be applied to tile surfaces. However, there are a few factors to consider before breaking out the paintbrush.

Suitability of Tile Surface

The texture and porousness of your existing tile will impact how well the chalk paint adheres. Paint is likely to chip or peel more easily from surfaces that are glossy and non-porous compared to those that have a bit of natural texture and absorption. Slate, terracotta, and even grout lines provide the paint with something to grip.

Glossy ceramic, porcelain, or glass tiles are not ideal candidates for chalk paint. If you do opt to paint them, take extra steps to prep and seal the surface so the paint can properly adhere.

Paint Prep

While minimal, some prep work is required before painting tile with chalk paint. Here are a few steps to take:

  • Clean surface thoroughly with a degreasing cleaner. Remove any existing caulk.
  • Lightly sand glossy tiles to promote adhesion.
  • Apply a bonding primer or etching cream before painting. This helps the paint grip.
  • Apply 2-3 thin coats of chalk paint, allowing proper drying time between coats.
  • Seal with a acrylic sealer once fully dry to protect the finish.

Without proper prep, chalk paint may scratch or chip easily from tile surfaces. Take the time to clean and lightly abrade the surface so the paint can properly bond.

Distressing Limits

One appeal of chalk paint is the worn, chippy look it can achieve. But while that distressed vintage vibe works for furniture, it doesn’t translate as well to backsplashes.

The regular wear and tear a kitchen backsplash endures – from cooking splatters to cleaning – means chalk paint will naturally distress and chip over time. Starting with intentional distressing may lead to paint peeling more quickly than desired.

Opt for an intact painted finish on tile backsplashes rather than pre-distressing. The paint will naturally wear in high-use areas.

Dark Colors Only

Chalk paint comes in a wide range of colors from bold hues to softer pastels. But light chalk paints are more likely to show imperfections and every scrape on a backsplash. Darker chalk paint colors are a better choice for disguising inevitable wear and tear.

Deep tones like navy, charcoal, black, or olive green will hide any scratches and scuffs better over time.

Tips for Painting Tile Backsplashes

If you decide to use chalk paint on your tile backsplash, follow these tips for the best results:

  • Stick with dark paint colors to limit visible scuffing.
  • Thoroughly clean and lightly sand glossy surfaces before painting.
  • Apply a bonding primer first for better adhesion.
  • Opt for 2-3 thin coats, letting each coat fully dry.
  • Be gentle at first so paint doesn’t chip easily.
  • Avoid intentionally distressing. Let paint chip naturally instead.
  • Use painters tape for crisp edges along countertops and ceilings.
  • Seal with a water-based sealer once fully dry.
  • Spot touch up any problem areas as needed.

Before You Chalk Paint Tile…

While it is possible to use chalk paint on backsplashes, the finish may be less durable than desired. Other options like tile stickers, removable wallpaper, or installing new backsplash tile may be better suited for kitchens and bathrooms.

Consider your backsplash location and traffic, the preparation time required, and color choice before committing to chalk paint. Proper prep is key to achieving longer lasting results. For high-traffic areas, you may need to resign yourself to continually touching up paint chips and scratches.

There are certainly times when chalk paint can work on backsplashes, especially shorter-term rentals. But tile surfaces present more challenges than typical furniture applications. Evaluate whether chalk paint is the right choice based on your particular backsplash and needs. With the proper prep and paint application, you can freshen up your kitchen with chalk paint on a budget.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you use chalk paint on ceramic tile?

Yes, it is possible to use chalk paint on ceramic tiles. However, proper prep is crucial – clean thoroughly, scuff up glossy surfaces, use a bonding primer, apply thin coats, and seal once dry. The paint may be prone to chipping on high-traffic ceramic backsplashes.

What kind of paint sticks to shiny tile?

An etching primer or bonding primer designed for glossy surfaces will stick better than standard paints. Chalk paint can also work with proper prep to scuff up the shiny tile first for better adhesion.

Can you use chalk paint in a bathroom?

Chalk paint can be used in bathrooms on surfaces like vanities and decorative shelves. The humidity of showers means chalk paint is not ideal for walls and tile surrounds which endure direct water contact. Proper sealing is a must in bathroom applications.

Does chalk paint need to be sealed on tile?

Yes, sealing chalk paint on tile is a must to protect the finish. Water-based acrylic sealers work well to seal chalk painted tiles. Sealers help prevent staining, scratches and chips on frequently used kitchen and bathroom backsplashes.

Can chalk paint be used outdoors?

Outdoor surfaces require paints built to withstand weather elements. While some brands claim their formulas work outside, chalk paint is generally best suited for indoor pieces. Outdoor projects have a high risk of chalk paint chipping and fading more quickly.


Chalk paint offers an affordable, beginner-friendly way to refresh tired tile backsplashes and other surfaces. But the durability of chalk paint on high-traffic kitchen or bathroom tiles is questionable. With careful prep and application, dark chalk paints can provide temporary transformation. Evaluate whether chalk paint is the right choice based on your particular tile’s location and amount of wear. For a longer-lasting finish able to withstand daily use, alternative backsplash options may be better suited.