How to Paint Backsplash Tile in Kitchen

Painting the backsplash tile in your kitchen can completely transform the look and feel of the space. With some preparation and the right materials, it’s a project that most DIYers can tackle. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to paint backsplash tiles in your kitchen.


Painting over existing backsplash tiles allows you to update the look of your kitchen without incurring the cost and mess of a full tile removal and replacement. It’s also a project that can typically be completed over a weekend.

When approaching a tile painting project, there are a few things to consider:

  • Tile type – The tile surface will impact the type of paint and preparation needed. Ceramic, porcelain, and natural stone tiles require different treatments.
  • Paint type – The options include epoxy paint, acrylic latex, or a bonding primer with latex paint. Each has pros and cons to weigh.
  • Preparation – Proper prep work is crucial for paint adhesion. Tiles must be thoroughly cleaned and potentially scuffed up.

With the right planning and materials, you can achieve a stunning transformation of your kitchen backsplash on a budget.

Steps for Painting Backsplash Tiles

Follow these key steps for a successful tile painting project:

Clean the Tile Surface

Before painting, the tiles must be thoroughly cleaned to remove any grease, soap residue, or grime. Here’s how:

  • Wash the backsplash tiles with a degreasing dish soap and warm water. Use a soft sponge or rag.
  • Rinse thoroughly and let dry completely.
  • Clean again with an ammonia-based cleaner or mix of vinegar and water. This helps remove any leftover residue.
  • Rinse once more and let the tiles dry fully before painting.

Scuff Up the Tile Surface

Most ceramic, porcelain, and natural stone tiles have surfaces that are too glossy for paint to properly adhere to. They must be scuffed up first:

  • With a piece of 120-150 grit sandpaper, lightly scour the entire surface of each tile.
  • Focus on any particularly shiny spots. This roughs up the gloss for better paint grip.
  • Wipe away all dust with a dry cloth once scuffing is complete.

Apply Primer

Primer helps the paint stick to the tile surface. Be sure to choose the right type of primer for your tile material:

  • Ceramic tiles – Use a bonding primer made specifically for slick surfaces.
  • Porcelain/stone tiles – Opt for an etching bonding primer formulated for porcelain, natural stone, etc.
  • Follow the product directions closely for applying the primer. Typically it is rolled or brushed on.
  • Allow the primer to dry fully before painting. This is an important step.

Paint the Tiles

Now you’re ready for the painting itself. Consider your paint options:

  • Epoxy paint – A two-part epoxy paint will create the most durable finish. Ideal for kitchen backsplashes.
  • Acrylic latex – Water-based acrylic latex paint is easier to apply but less hardy.
  • Apply two coats – For full coverage, be sure to apply two coats of your chosen paint. Lightly sand between coats.
  • Follow all drying times according to the manufacturer’s directions.
  • If desired, apply a sealing polyurethane top coat for added protection.

Clean and Seal the Grout

Don’t forget about the grout lines in the tile. These will also need attention:

  • Clean the grout thoroughly with a grout brush and grout cleaner.
  • Allow to dry fully.
  • Apply grout sealer to protect the grout lines.
  • Wipe up any excess sealer with a cloth. Allow to cure per product instructions.

With that, your newly painted kitchen backsplash is ready to enjoy! Be sure to take care when cleaning to avoid chipping the painted finish.

FAQs About Painting Backsplash Tiles

Got questions about taking on a tile painting project? Here are answers to some commonly asked questions:

What kind of paint should I use?

Epoxy paint is the best choice for achieving a hard-wearing finish that can stand up to kitchen conditions. Acrylic latex paints don’t hold up as well over time.

How do I prep porcelain or ceramic tile?

These tiles must be scuffed up with sandpaper and primed with a bonding agent before painting. This allows the paint to grip the slick tile surface.

Can I paint over cracked or damaged tiles?

It’s best to only paint over tiles that are fully intact. Cracked or broken tiles should be replaced to ensure the paint job lasts.

How long does the project take?

Expect the tile painting process from start to finish to take 2-3 days with drying time included between steps.

Can I use painter’s tape on the tiles?

Yes, use painter’s tape around the edges of the backsplash to protect the walls and countertops from drips or spills. Remove tape immediately after painting before the paint dries.

Should I hire a pro?

An experienced DIYer can tackle a tile painting project. The key is taking time on the proper prep work. If you are unsure, hire a professional painter for assistance.


Updating kitchen backsplash tiles by painting them is an affordable DIY project that can give your space a brand new look. With the right prep work, materials, and painting technique, even ceramic or porcelain tiles can be painted successfully. Be sure to thoroughly clean and scuff the tiles, apply proper primer, and use an epoxy paint for the most durable finish. With some diligence and patience, you can paint over backsplash tiles and love the finished result.