How to Paint a Backsplash

A kitchen backsplash not only protects your walls from spills and splatters, it serves as a decorative focal point that can transform the look and feel of your kitchen. Painting a backsplash is an affordable DIY project that allows you to customize your space and add a pop of color or new texture. With some basic prep work, high-quality primer and paint, and attention to detail, you can achieve professional-looking results. This comprehensive guide will walk you through each step of how to properly paint a backsplash in your kitchen.

Gather Your Supplies

Before starting any painting project, it’s important to make sure you have all the necessary supplies on hand. Here’s what you’ll need to paint your kitchen backsplash:

  • Paint – Choose a high-quality, kitchen-grade acrylic enamel paint in a semi-gloss or gloss finish, which will be easy to clean. Make sure the paint is formulated to bond to surfaces like ceramic tile, glass, laminate, etc. Purchase enough to give your backsplash 2-3 coats.
  • Paint primer – Priming ensures proper paint adhesion. Use a water-based primer made for tile and laminate surfaces.
  • Angled paint brush – The angled brush makes it easy to cut-in around edges and grout lines. Disposable angled brushes are a good option.
  • Paint roller – A small 4-6 inch roller cover with a 1/4 or 1/8 nap is best for smooth backsplash surfaces.
  • Paint tray – Use a paint tray with built-in wells for the roller and brush.
  • Painters tape – Mask off any adjacent surfaces like countertops or cabinets with painters tape. Remove tape immediately after painting before the paint dries.
  • Drop cloths – Protect floors and countertops from drips and spills with canvas drop cloths or plastic sheeting.
  • Sandpaper – Lightly sand glossy surfaces before priming to help paint better adhere.
  • TSP cleaner – Use trisodium phosphate (TSP) cleaner to remove any existing grease or residue.
  • Rags, paper towels – Have these on hand for spills and drips.
  • Paint stick or 5-in-1 tool – Useful for scraping any paint out of grout lines.

Take stock of all supplies before starting to ensure your paint project goes smoothly from start to finish.

Prep Your Backsplash Surface

Proper prep work is crucial for getting great painted backsplash results. Follow these steps:

  • Clear countertops – Remove everything from countertops and surrounding area. Clean thoroughly.
  • Wash – Use TSP or other degreaser to thoroughly clean the backsplash surface. This removes any oils, grease, or soap residue. Rinse well and let dry.
  • Sand lightly – If you have a glossy tile or laminate backsplash, lightly sand to rough up the surface so paint can adhere properly.
  • Fill any grout holes – Use caulk or epoxy filler to patch any missing grout or damaged areas. Let dry completely.
  • Wipe down – Use a microfiber cloth to remove any remaining dust. Tack cloth works great for this.
  • Tape off – Use painters tape to mask off countertops, cabinets, or any other adjacent surfaces you don’t want painted. Press tape down firmly.

Proper cleaning, sanding, and taping off the area will ensure your paint job looks neat, clean, and professional. Don’t skip these important surface preparation steps!

Prime Your Backsplash

Priming before painting creates a uniform surface for the paint to stick to, while preventing absorption into porous surfaces. It can also help hide any existing colors or stains. Here’s how to prime:

  • Read the label – Make sure your primer is formulated for tile, laminate, or other backsplash materials.
  • Stir well – Mix the primer thoroughly before and during use.
  • Apply with brush/roller – Use a brush for cutting in edges and a small roller for the flat expanses. Work in 3×3 foot sections.
  • Do the edges first – Cut-in around all edges with the angled brush, then fill in centers with roller.
  • Apply evenly – Apply a smooth, even coat. Don’t overload the roller or create drips.
  • Let dry – Allow primer to fully dry according to manufacturer’s instructions before painting.
  • Look for missed spots – Inspect closely for any bare or thinly coated areas and re-prime if needed.

Priming provides an essential base layer for your backsplash paint. Don’t skip this step! Allow primer to dry per the manufacturer’s recommendations before painting.

Paint Your Backsplash Like a Pro!

You prepped the surface, applied primer – now it’s time for the fun part! Follow these professional tips and tricks for getting a flawless painted backsplash:

  • Read directions – Make sure to follow the specific paint application instructions.
  • Stir well – Continuously stir paint as you’re applying to keep it smooth and consistent.
  • Use angled brush on edges – Hold brush at 45 degree angle to neatly “cut-in” along edges where the backsplash meets countertops, cabinets etc. Apply steady pressure.
  • Roll on paint smoothly – Use a small roller in 3×3 sections. Roll up and down steadily to coat evenly.
  • Maintain wet edge – Don’t let paint dry partially or overlap wet and dry areas. Maintain a wet edge as you go.
  • Work top to bottom – Paint uppermost surfaces like hood vents first, then work your way down.
  • 2-3 thin coats – Wait proper dry time between coats. Multiple thin coats look better than 1 thick coat.
  • Vertical strokes on final coat – On the final coat, use vertical roller strokes to minimize brush marks.
  • Inspect closely – Check for any missing or thinly coated spots. Touch up if needed.

Take your time, apply multiple thin coats, and work methodically for professional paint results! Don’t rush the drying between coats.

Remove Tape and Clean Up

Once your final coat of backsplash paint is dry, you’ll want to carefully remove the painters tape and clean the area. Follow these steps:

  • Use paint stick – Gently scrape out any paint that got into grout lines before fully dry. A 5-in-1 tool works well.
  • Remove tape slowly – Pull painters tape away from surfaces slowly at a 45 degree angle to avoid pulling up paint.
  • Clean as you go – Wipe up any drips or splatters immediately with a damp rag before they dry.
  • Use mineral spirits – For stubborn dried drips, use mineral spirits on a rag to gently dissolve then wipe away.
  • Avoid abrasives – Don’t scrub freshly painted surfaces. Allow to fully cure per manufacturer instructions before cleaning.

Take care when removing tape, cleaning, and handling freshly painted backsplashes. Allow proper cure time before using the space regularly again. Keep it looking pristine!

Maintaining Your Painted Backsplash

A painted backsplash requires some occasional maintenance to keep it looking like new. Here are some tips:

  • Let cure fully – Don’t scrub or aggressively clean for several weeks to allow paint to cure completely.
  • Clean gently – Use soft microfiber cloths or sponges with mild soap and water. Avoid abrasive cleaners or scrubbing.
  • Blot spills quickly – Immediately soak up any spills or splatters. Don’t let moisture sit.
  • Consider resealing annually – Applying a fresh coat of acrylic sealer periodically can help protect the finish.
  • Touch up nicks/scratches – Use touch up paint to quickly fix any damaged areas in the coating.

With proper care and maintenance, your painted kitchen backsplash can maintain its like-new appearance for years before needing to be repainted!

Frequently Asked Questions About Painting a Backsplash

What types of backsplash surfaces can be painted?

  • Ceramic and porcelain tile
  • Stainless steel
  • Laminate
  • Glass tile or mirror
  • Concrete
  • Natural stone like granite or marble (requires special preparation)

What sheen of paint should I use?

For backsplashes, a semi-gloss or high-gloss finish is recommended. The subtle sheen is easy to keep clean and adds dimension. Matte or flat paint would show dirt and stains too easily. Satin or eggshell finishes are also suitable if you prefer less shine.

Should I use acrylic or latex paint?

Acrylic latex paints are best for painting backsplashes. 100% acrylic formulas provide maximum adhesion and durability that stands up to moisture, grease, and repeated cleaning. Avoid older oil-based paints.

How long does painted backsplash last?

With proper surface prep and application, a high-quality acrylic painted backsplash can last 3-5 years or more before needing to be redone. Proper maintenance and cleaning also helps maximize the life of the paint.

Can I paint over an existing backsplash?

Yes, you can paint over existing tile, laminate, or other backsplash materials as long as the surface is properly prepped and primed first. This is a great way to inexpensively change the color or look of your existing backsplash.

What mistakes should I avoid when painting a backsplash?

  • Don’t use inferior quality paint or wrong application tools.
  • Skipping proper prep work like cleaning, sanding, taping off.
  • Applying too thick of a coat or incorrect roller.
  • Not allowing proper drying time between coats.
  • Using harsh chemicals or scrubbing too soon after painting.


Transforming your kitchen backsplash with a fresh coat of paint is an easy, inexpensive DIY project that can give your space a whole new look. With some careful planning, high-quality acrylic paints, proper preparation and application techniques, and ongoing maintenance, you can achieve beautiful, professional-level painted backsplash results. The key is taking your time, applying multiple thin coats, and letting each layer fully cure before cleaning or putting the space back into use. In just a weekend, you can have a backsplash with a bright new color or texture that makes your kitchen feel brand new. So grab your paint supplies and get ready to spruce up your backsplash with a DIY paint makeover!