How to Paint Kitchen Backsplash Tile


Painting kitchen backsplash tile can completely transform the look of your kitchen. Whether you want to update dated tile or are temporarily covering up an eyesore, painting tile backsplash is an affordable DIY project that can make a big visual impact.

With the right prep work and painting technique, you can give tile backsplash a fresh painted finish. The key is using specialty tile paint formulated to bond to smooth surfaces like ceramic, porcelain or glass tile. With a little time and effort, you can learn how to paint kitchen backsplash tile and get results that look professionally done.

Gather Your Tile Painting Supplies

Painting tile backsplash starts with gathering the right painting supplies:

  • Tile paint – Choose a specialty acrylic paint formulated for painting ceramic, porcelain or glass tile. The paint should have a built-in primer and bond well to slick non-porous surfaces. KILZ Adhesion High-Bonding Interior/Exterior Latex Primer/Sealer works well for painting tile.
  • Paintbrushes – Angle sash paintbrushes work best for cutting in around edges and corners. Foam brushes or short nap roller covers are ideal for painting larger flat tile surfaces.
  • Paint tray – Use a paint tray to hold the tile paint so you can load your brush. Look for trays with built-in wells to hold extra paint.
  • Painters tape – Mask off any adjacent surfaces like countertops with painter’s tape to keep them splatter-free.
  • Sandpaper – Lightly sand glossy tile before painting to help the paint adhere. Look for 220 grit sandpaper.
  • Tack cloth – Wipe sanded tile with a tack cloth to remove any dust.
  • Drop cloths – Cover floors, countertops and other surfaces to protect them from paint splatters and drips.
  • Paint remover – Have 100% acetone on hand to remove any paint drips or splatters.

Once you have the necessary tile painting supplies, you’re ready to start prepping the space.

Prepare Your Kitchen for Painting Tile Backsplash

Proper prep work is crucial for getting great results painting kitchen backsplash tile. Follow these steps to prep your space:

1. Clear Countertops and Remove Items from Backsplash

Clear off countertops and remove anything sitting on the backsplash, like small appliances and kitchen accessories. This protects items from paint splatters and gives you open access to the backsplash area.

2. Tape Off Countertops and Adjacent Surfaces

Use painter’s tape to mask off countertops, cabinets, ranges and any other surfaces adjacent to the backsplash. Apply tape along the top edge and any vertical edges where tile meets other surfaces. Press tape firmly in place for a tight seal.

3. Clean Tile Thoroughly

Scrub tile backsplash with an all-purpose cleaner or degreasing soap using a stiff nylon scrub brush. Rinse well and let dry. This removes built-up grease and dirt so paint adheres well.

4. Lightly Sand Glossy Tile

For glossy tile, lightly sand surfaces in a circular motion using 220 grit sandpaper. This scuffs up the slick glossy finish so paint can grab onto the tile.

5. Wipe with Tack Cloth

Wipe sanded tile with a tack cloth to remove any dust left from sanding. Make sure the tile is completely clean and dust-free.

6. Cover Floors, Countertops and Other Surfaces

Protect surfaces around the backsplash area from paint drips using drop cloths and plastic sheeting. Cover floors underneath the workspace and any countertops or cabinets near the backsplash.

Once prep work is complete, you’re ready to start painting kitchen backsplash tile!

How to Paint Tile Backsplash

Follow these steps for how to paint ceramic, porcelain or glass backsplash tile:

1. Apply Base Coat of Tile Paint

Pour tile paint into a paint tray and use a foam brush or short nap paint roller to apply a base coat of paint to the entire backsplash area. Apply paint in a thin, even layer and work methodically so you don’t miss any spots. Let the base coat dry completely.

2. Apply Second Coat and Let Dry

Apply a second coat of tile paint using a foam brush or paint roller. Spread paint evenly to completely cover the first coat. Allow the second coat to dry fully before continuing.

3. Use Angled Brush to Cut-In Along Edges

Use an angled sash brush to carefully cut-in along any edges where tile meets countertops, cabinets, sinks and ranges. Cutting in gives edges a clean, crisp painted line.

4. Apply Third Coat of Tile Paint

Apply one final coat of paint over the entire backsplash using a foam brush or paint roller. This top coat ensures full, even tile coverage. Allow the final coat to dry fully before continuing.

5. Remove Tape and Reinstall Backsplash Items

Once paint is completely dry, slowly remove painter’s tape from countertops, cabinets and any adjacent surfaces. Reinstall any kitchen accessories or small appliances that you removed from the backsplash before painting.

6. Clean Up Paint Drips

Inspect the newly painted backsplash and use acetone on a clean cloth to wipe away any drips or splatters on countertops, floors or nearby surfaces. Work carefully to only remove paint and not damage your finish.

It’s really that easy to learn how to paint kitchen backsplash tile! With the right supplies and careful technique, you can paint ceramic, porcelain or glass tile backsplash and get beautiful, professional-looking results.

Tips for Painting Tile Backsplash Like a Pro

Follow these helpful tips and tricks to paint kitchen backsplash tile like an expert:

  • Always test paint adhesion on a small inconspicuous tile first before tackling the entire backsplash. This verifies the paint will bond well to your specific tile surface.
  • For dark paint colors, apply a white or light gray base coat first to help with coverage. Dark paint colors often require multiple coats for full opacity.
  • Work in small sections when painting using a foam brush or small roller. This prevents paint from drying too quickly before you can spread it evenly.
  • Load your paintbrush well and apply paint using long, slow strokes from top to bottom of each tile. Avoid excessive brush strokes which can make paint look streaky.
  • When cutting-in edges with a sash brush, brace your painting hand against a steadying surface to keep brush strokes smooth and straight.
  • Rinse paintbrushes in water frequently to keep bristles paint-free. Dried paint on bristles can leave unsightly brush marks.
  • Inspect the tile surface at an angle as you paint to ensure paint is covering evenly without thin spots or visible underlying tile.
  • Maintain wet paint edges when cutting-in. Avoid letting cut-in areas dry before you can paint adjacent surfaces.
  • Let each coat of paint dry fully before adding another coat. Drying times vary based on humidity levels.
  • Add painters tape “crack guards” over any grout lines to prevent paint from seeping into grooves. Pull tape immediately after painting before the paint can fully dry.

With the right supplies and some practice, you can get professional paint results on kitchen backsplash tile. Take your time and don’t rush the painting process. Your newly painted backsplash will look amazing!

How Long Does Painted Tile Backsplash Last?

When properly prepped and painted, painted tile backsplash can last for many years without needing touch ups. Most tile paints create a durable, scrubbable finish when applied to non-porous tile surfaces like ceramic, porcelain or glass.

To maximize the lifespan of painted backsplash tile:

  • Allow tile paint to cure fully for at least 7 days before cleaning or exposing to moisture. This gives paint time to harden and become more scuff-resistant.
  • Use a dilution of mild dish soap and warm water to gently wipe spills and splatters from painted tile. Avoid abrasive cleaners or scrub sponges which can wear down the painted finish quicker.
  • Immediately wipe up cooking grease splatters to prevent oil stains from penetrating and discoloring the tile paint.
  • Reapply a fresh coat of paint if you notice worn areas that expose the underlying tile. Spot paint touch ups blend better than waiting until the entire backsplash needs repainting.
  • Limit the use of adhesive wall hooks, racks or other items that could peel paint off the tile surface when removed.
  • Consider using painter’s tape when decorating for the holidays or other occasions where ribbons, garlands, string lights, etc. will be temporarily adhered to the backsplash.

With proper care and maintenance, painted tile backsplash can maintain its like-new appearance for years before needing a refresh. The durable tile paint finish is designed to stand up well in busy kitchen spaces.

How to Paint Backsplash Tile Around Outlets and Switches

Electrical outlets and light switches require special attention when painting kitchen backsplash tile. Here are some tips:

  • Turn off power to kitchen outlets and light switches at the breaker before painting. Never paint outlets when they are live with electricity.
  • Remove cover plates from outlets and switches before painting tile. It’s much easier to paint behind plates before they are installed.
  • Use a dry paintbrush to carefully dab paint right up to edges around outlets or switches. Avoid getting paint on the receptacles.
  • If paint does get onto outlets, switches or cover plate screw holes, wipe it away immediately with acetone and a clean cloth.
  • Allow paint to dry fully before reinstalling cover plates. Plates that are installed too soon can stick to tacky paint and cause damage when removed later.
  • Insert a piece of cardboard behind cover plate after installation to protect it from paint. Tape plate edges with painter’s tape for an extra seal.
  • Use an angled brush loaded with minimal paint to carefully cut-in around cover plates so paint edges look crisp.
  • Remove tape and cardboard from cover plates immediately after painting before cured paint bonds them together permanently.

Exercising caution around electrical components allows you to paint backsplash tile seamlessly. With some careful prep work, you can completely paint over outlets and switches for a cohesive look.

Painting Tile Backsplash Ideas and Inspiration

Painting over existing tile backsplash opens up lots of possibilities for easy, inexpensive kitchen updates. Here are some fresh paint color ideas:

Modern White

Glossy bright white backsplash tile gets a chic matte painted finish. The ultra-white hue keeps the space feeling open.

Bold Black

Deep charcoal or matte black paint brings high-contrast drama to backsplash tile. Especially striking against light countertops.

Vintage Green

Olive green, juniper or sage instantly gives tile vintage character. Warm undertones complement natural wood cabinetry.

Retro Blue

Mid-century aqua blue backsplash paint channels retro diner appeal. Pair with chrome accents for a classic 1950s look.

Earthy Terracotta

Terracotta orange backsplash paint brings the feeling of Tuscany right into the kitchen. Looks incredible with wood cabinetry.

Muted Gray

Light gray or greige paint colors work with almost any kitchen decor. A versatile neutral that provides a clean, muted backdrop.

Painting over outdated or damaged tile backsplash offers limitless possibilities for giving your kitchen a new look with minimal effort. Have fun and get creative painting tile to suit your personal style!

Painting Backsplash Tile Before and After

Painting kitchen backsplash tile can make a huge visual impact. Here are some before and after photos showcasing stunning transformations:

Outdated 1980s Tile to Farmhouse Chic

Dated almond and brown 80s tile gets a rustic farmhouse vibe with brick-red tile paint. White cabinets really pop against the bold new backsplash color.

Before 1980s backsplash tile
After Farmhouse brick backsplash

Dull White Tile to Moroccan Accent Wall

Plain white tile morphs into a vibrant turquoise Moroccan style backsplash pattern using painter’s tape and tile paint. The blue and white scheme feels fun and beachy.

Before plain white tile
After Moroccan tile pattern

Severely Damaged Tile to Neutral Slate Gray

Heavily cracked and missing backsplash tile is miraculously restored with neutral dark gray paint. The cool slate tone keeps the small space feeling open and serene.

Before damaged backsplash tile
After slate gray paint

With just a few coats of tile paint, you can affordably transform the look of your kitchen in a day. Painting tile backsplash yourself allows for quick, dramatic updates on a budget.

Frequently Asked Questions About Painting Tile Backsplash

Here are answers to some common questions about painting over kitchen backsplash tile:

Is painting over ceramic tile difficult?

Painting ceramic tile backsplash is actually quite easy and can be done over a weekend with the right tile paint. The key is proper surface prep by cleaning and lightly sanding the tile first so paint adheres well. Using specialty acrylic ceramic tile paint provides long-lasting results.

Can I paint over cracked or damaged tile?

Yes, painting over cracked, chipped or damaged tile is a great way to restore the look without costly tile replacement. Be sure to clean out any loose grout in cracked joints before painting. Apply paint carefully over cracks for coverage while allowing paint to remain flexible.

Should I use primer before painting tile?

Most dedicated tile paints have built-in primer and don’t require a separate primer coat. Always check paint product details to confirm before painting. If using standard latex wall paint, apply a primer like KILZ Adhesion first for better adhesion.

How do I paint behind stove and fridge?

It’s challenging to paint behind immovable appliances. Try using a small foam roller and extendable pole to reach behind stove and fridge instead of a brush. Or temporarily pull appliances out to allow full access for painting if possible.

Can I paint over ugly grout lines?

Yes, you can paint over and completely hide ugly stained grout lines on tile backsplash. Use painter’s tape along grout lines between tiles to prevent paint from seeping into grouted joints. Pull tape after painting while paint is still wet.

Painting kitchen backsplash tile can refresh the entire look of your kitchen. With the right prep work and painting technique, you can update your backsplash in a weekend. Refer to this guide anytime for tips to achieve tile backsplash paint results worthy of HGTV.


Painting kitchen backsplash tile offers a budget-friendly design facelift for your cooking space. With some simple prep work and specialty tile paint, even DIYers can achieve restaurant-worthy results.

Give dated or damaged backsplash tile new life with a fresh coat of color. Paint opens up endless possibilities for customizing your backsplash to match your personal style.

Tackle painting your kitchen backsplash tile like an expert armed with the techniques and know-how from this guide. With a little time and effort, you can affordably transform the heart of your home with a painted tile backsplash you will love showing off.