How to Paint Over Tile Backsplash

Painting over an existing tile backsplash can completely transform the look and feel of your kitchen. With the right preparation and painting techniques, you can easily update tired, dated tile to create a fresh new backsplash on a budget. This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know to successfully paint over tile backsplash.

Choosing the Right Paint for Tile

The type of paint you choose is crucial for getting great results painting over tile. Here are the best options:

Epoxy Paint

Epoxy paint is the top recommendation for painting tile backsplashes. Epoxy formulated specifically for tile provides excellent adhesion and durability. The high-performance acrylic-epoxy blend self-levels and resists chipping, scratching, and staining. Epoxy paint comes in endless sheens and colors to match any design aesthetic.


  • Formulated specifically for tile and masonry surfaces
  • Strong adhesion resists chipping and scratching
  • Available in matte to high-gloss sheens
  • Range of color options – solids, patterns, metallics
  • Resists moisture and steam from cooking
  • Can be cleaned easily
  • Long lasting durability


  • More expensive than other paint choices
  • Requires thorough prep and skilled application
  • Strong odor during application that dissipates when dry

Acrylic Latex Paint

Water-based acrylic latex paint is a budget-friendly option for painting over tile backsplashes. Match the sheen to your goals – satin/eggshell for scrubbability, semi-gloss for durability and shine. Be sure to use a high-quality acrylic latex formulated for bathrooms and kitchens.


  • Significantly lower cost than epoxy
  • Wide range of sheens and colors
  • Water-clean up
  • Low odor
  • Easy application


  • May require additional primer for adhesion
  • More prone to chipping or damage over time
  • susceptible to moisture damage

Urethane Alkyd Paint

Oil-based urethane alkyd paint provides a tile-like glossy finish. The hard, protective film is scuff, moisture and stain resistant. Typical uses include bathrooms, laundries, and kitchens.


  • Extremely durable glossy finish
  • Moisture resistant
  • Stain resistant
  • Abrasion resistant
  • Easy to clean


  • Higher cost than acrylic latex
  • Strong solvent fumes
  • Long dry time between coats
  • Difficult cleanup with mineral spirits
  • Limited color selection
  • Yellowing over time

Specialty Tile Paint Kits

All-in-one specialty tile paint kits take the guesswork out of product selection. The coordinated primer, paint, tools and instructions are tailored for painting over tile and come in various sheens and colors.


  • Designed specifically for tile surfaces
  • No need to source separate products
  • Clear instructions for success
  • Tinted primer improves coverage
  • Formulated for adhesion and durability


  • Limited color selection
  • Higher cost than buying individual products

How to Prepare Tile for Painting

Proper prep is crucial for paint to adhere to the tile surface. Follow these steps to get your backsplash tile ready for painting:


Start by giving the tiles a thorough cleaning using a degreasing cleaner or ammonia-based soap. Scrub away any existing grease, grime, or soap scum so the paint will adhere well. Rinse any cleaner residue.


Lightly scuff sand the glazed tile surface using 220-400 grit sandpaper. This roughens up the smooth glossy finish so the paint can grab on. Be careful not to sand too aggressively.

Filling Grout Lines

Use painter’s caulk to fill in any cracked or missing grout lines. Tool the caulk smooth with your finger. This prevents paint from seeping into the grout lines.


Apply a bonding primer formulated for tile and masonry. Priming improves paint adhesion and prevents the tile material from causing the paint to peel or chip. Allow the primer to fully dry per the manufacturer’s instructions before painting.

With the right prep, you can paint successfully over existing backsplash tile. Be patient – rushing the prep steps can sabotage the entire project.

How to Apply Paint Over Tile Backsplash

Once your backsplash tile is prepped, it’s time to apply paint. Follow these tips and techniques:

Selecting Brushes and Rollers

Choose high-quality brushes and mini foam rollers designed for smooth surfaces. Tapered trim brushes work well near walls and corners. A 2” angled sash brush applies paint smoothly to tile. Mini foam rollers with short nap are ideal for quickly coating tile while avoiding grout lines.

Cutting In With Brush

Use a trim brush to “cut in” around edges where the roller can’t reach. Hold the brush at a 45° angle to the tile and apply paint in smooth, even strokes. Cut in where the backsplash meets the wall, corners, window and door trim, light fixtures, outlets, etc.

Rolling on Paint

Dip the mini foam roller in the paint tray and roll off any excess. Apply the paint in a “W” or zig-zag motion to avoid excess drips and sags. Work in approximately 3 foot wide sections. Maintain a wet edge and complete from top to bottom. Make sure to get full, even coverage. Two coats are recommended for best results.

Applying Epoxy

For epoxy paint, carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions for mixing and application. Use a foam roller and work methodically in small sections due to the fast dry time. Maintain smooth strokes and backroll to level out any roller marks or bubbles.

Drying and Curing

Allow the recommended dry time between coats based on humidity and temperature. Epoxy may require up to several days to fully cure and reach maximum durability. Avoid cleaning, scrubbing or exposing to moisture during curing.

With patience and proper technique, it is definitely possible to get flawless results painting over existing backsplash tile. The finished look can rival a brand new tile installation.

FAQ About Painting Tile Backsplash

Many common questions come up about painting over tile backsplashes. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

How long does painted tile last?

With proper prep and application, painted tile can last 3-5 years or longer before needing touch ups. High quality epoxy paints provide the most longevity.

Can you paint over cracked or damaged tile?

Yes, painting is a great way to refresh cracked, chipped or outdated tile. Fill any missing grout lines with caulk before priming and painting.

What about the grout – should it be replaced?

Replacing all the tile grout is not necessary. Simply use caulk to fill any cracked or missing grout lines before painting.

How do I get paint out of the grout lines?

Carefully “cut in” around grout lines with a brush. Use painters tape to mask off grout lines if needed. Backsplash touch up paint kits are available if you accidentally get paint on the grout.

Can I paint over natural stone or marble tile?

Painting over natural stone is not recommended. The porous surface and intricate veining make it hard to achieve an even painted finish.

What sheen level should I use?

A satin, eggshell, or semi-gloss sheen provides the best durability and ease of cleaning for backsplashes. Matte finishes hide imperfections but require gentler cleaning.

How do I get a smooth finish when painting tile?

Proper prep and using mini foam rollers instead of brushes will provide the smoothest finish. Backrolling after applying epoxy evens out the appearance.

Can I paint ceramic, porcelain, or glass tile?

Yes, use proper prep and tile-specific paints and primers to paint over ceramic, porcelain or glass backsplash tiles.

Painting tile backsplash is very achievable with the right products and techniques. Follow this guide for beautiful painted backsplash results!

Painting Over Tile Backsplash – Step-by-Step

Follow this step-by-step process for successfully painting over existing tile backsplash:

Supplies Needed

  • Degreasing cleaner or ammonia-based soap
  • 220-400 grit sandpaper
  • Painter’s caulk
  • Backsplash paint (epoxy, acrylic latex or urethane alkyd)
  • Bonding primer for tile
  • Angled sash brush
  • Tapered trim brushes
  • Short nap mini foam rollers
  • Paint tray, extension pole, lint-free cloths

Step 1 – Deep Clean the Tile

Mix up degreasing cleaner according to label directions. Scrub tiles to remove all grease, oils and soap residue. Rinse thoroughly and allow to fully dry.

Step 2 – Lightly Sand Tile

Use 220-400 grit sandpaper to lightly scuff up the tile. This helps the paint bond to the slick tile surface. Avoid aggressively sanding or removing the glaze. Wipe away all sanding dust.

Step 3 – Fill Any Grout Lines as Needed

Use painters caulk to fill in any cracked or missing grout lines. Tool the caulk smooth. Allow caulk to fully cure per manufacturer’s directions before priming.

Step 4 – Apply Bonding Primer

Read all label directions and prepare primer accordingly. Use an angled brush to apply a coat of bonding primer designed for tile. Allow primer to dry completely.

Step 5 – Paint Backsplash with Roller and Brush

Cut in along edges with tapered trim brush and roll on two coats of quality acrylic latex or epoxy paint. Maintain wet edge and work methodically. Let dry completely between coats.

Step 6 – Seal and Protect Paint

Once fully cured, apply a clear acrylic sealer over the painted backsplash. This adds an extra layer of protection from moisture, grease and grime.

Follow these steps carefully and your freshly painted backsplash will look amazing! Be patient during the prep stages – the time invested pays off in the quality and durability of the finished result.

Tips for Achieving a Professional Look Painting Backsplash Tile

Painting over a tile backsplash seems straightforward but achieving a seamless pro-quality look takes skill and practice. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Take your time prepping. Clean thoroughly, sand evenly, and address any damaged grout lines. Proper prep is key to good adhesion.
  • Always prime before painting tile. Quality bonding primer helps the paint stick to the slick tile surface and prevents chipping or peeling.
  • Use high-quality mini foam rollers and angled sash brushes designed for smooth surfaces. Avoid using regular bristle brushes which can leave visible streaks.
  • Maintain a steady painting pace and wet edge to prevent lap marks as you go. Work in manageable 3 foot wide sections.
  • Backroll painted epoxy frequently with a dry roller to flatten any bubbles and even out the finish.
  • When cutting in along edges with a brush, brace your painting hand against a wall or counter for maximum control.
  • Taping off surrounding walls or wood trim prevents paint drips or splatters. Carefully pull off tape just after painting before the paint dries.
  • Two coats of paint provides better coverage and durability than trying to get away with one thick coat.
  • Practice your technique on paintable wallpaper or poster board before tackling the actual backsplash.
  • Work methodically and patiently. Rushing the painting process often leads to drips, errors and uneven coverage.

Take your time and don’t cut corners. With care and effort, you can achieve stunning professional-looking results painting over existing backsplash tile.

How to Choose the Right Backsplash Paint Color

Choosing the right paint color is critical to bringing your vision for a fresh new backsplash to life. Keep these tips in mind when selecting a color:

  • Gather inspiration from photos in magazines or Pinterest showing kitchen designs that appeal to you
  • Take note of current design trends – white and light neutrals remain popular backsplash colors
  • Consider the style and color scheme of your kitchen cabinets, countertops, floors and other finishes
  • Decide if you want the backsplash as a focal point or to blend in seamlessly
  • Opt for lighter shades if your space lacks natural light to prevent a dark, closed-in feel
  • Cool tones like blues, grays and greens open up smaller kitchens
  • Warm tones in peach, yellow, terra cotta or gold inject color and vibrancy
  • Always buy sample size paint pots and test colors on a poster board or spare tile
  • View color swatches at different times of day as natural lighting shifts color perception
  • Hold up samples against countertops, cabinets and floors to preview how tones coordinate
  • Ask a partner, friend or interior designer to provide feedback on color combinations

Don’t be afraid to take risks with bold, daring colors. Paint is temporary so have fun trying trendy tones. Follow your instincts and choose a hue that excites you.

Adding Dimension and Detail with Two-Tone Painted Tile

For extra depth and visual interest, consider a two-tone painted tile backsplash using two complementary colors. Here’s how to pull off this fun look:

Choose Colors that Coordinate

Select two colors that look pleasing together, such as a light and dark version of the same tone. Contrasting shades can make details pop while still harmonizing.

Define Sections for Each Color

Sketch out a pattern of defined paint color sections. Geometric shapes like rectangles, diamonds or triangles work well. Consider alternating colors in a checkerboard motif.

Outline Sections with Painter’s Tape

Use painter’s tape to mask off all the edges between color sections. Carefully press down tape to prevent seepage. Remove tape just after painting while the paint is still wet.

Cut In With Coordinating Trim Brushes

Use small angled brushes to carefully cut in each color along taped edges and corners. Maintain steady brush strokes. Allow to dry.

Roll On Each Color

Roll on the first color with a mini foam roller in long “W” shapes. Paint the alternating sections and avoid overlapping. Continue rolling on the second color.

Add Interest with a Third Color

Introduce a third color for extra dimension by painting a bolder detail pattern in the coordinating shade.

A multi-colored tile backsplash adds artistic flair. The color-blocking effect modernizes the space in an on-trend way.

Ideas and Inspiration for Painted Tile Backsplashes

Looking for ways to showcase your creativity? Painting over tile lets you customize with unique patterns, designs and color combinations.

Metallic Finishes

For contemporary glam, use metallic paint finishes like bronze, pewter, silver or gold. Try bold metal tones or a subtle shimmering sheen.

Moroccan-inspired Patterns

Recreate ornate Moroccan tiles with freehand geometric shapes and patterns. Use painters tape to get clean lines between colors.

Faux Marble or Stone

Artfully blend two complementary paint colors using water to dilute and fade the tones into each other. This achieves a realistic faux marble or stone look.

Botanical Motifs

Try painterly vines, flowers, leaves or botanical silhouettes to bring a free-spirited vibe. Use stencils for added crispness and definition.

Checks or Plaid

Paint on a retro diner-style checkerboard pattern using painter’s tape to keep lines straight and corners sharp.

Focal Shape

Make a statement by painting one repeated focal shape, like starbursts, crescents or circles spaced across tiles. Choose a contrasting color to make them pop.

Textural Finishes

Consider a textured glaze coating for dimension. Brush glaze on in random strokes after painting for an antiqued style full of depth and character.

Painting over tile unlocks unlimited potential to create your own signature backsplash look. Try innovative ideas and color combinations to make your kitchen uniquely you.

Maintaining a Painted Tile Backsplash

A painted backsplash requires care and maintenance to keep it looking freshly applied. Here are some tips:

  • Allow a full 2-3 weeks for epoxy paint to fully cure before cleaning
  • Use a microfiber cloth and mild soap and water to spot clean. Avoid abrasive sponges or scrubbing.
  • Rinse any cleaning solutions off thoroughly to prevent build up.
  • Blot up spills immediately to prevent possible staining. Avoid harsh cleaners.
  • Reseal painted backsplash every 1-2 years with clear acrylic sealer for added protection.
  • Limit use of oils or acids that may degrade the paint over time.
  • Immediately touch up any chips or scratches to prevent moisture getting under the paint.
  • Avoid hanging heavy items on backsplash that could lead to damage or pulling off paint.
  • Use cutting boards, splatter screens and utensil holders near the backsplash.
  • Rearrange accessories periodically to minimize visible wear in high use areas.
  • Apply heat-resistant clear coat if using behind cooktop to prevent discoloration.

Properly caring for your painted backsplash helps preserve the pristine look andextend the lifespan. With regular upkeep, your custom backsplash will continue looking freshly painted.

Do’s and Don’ts for Painting Over Tile Backsplash

Painting tile backsplash successfully requires paying attention to key dos and don’ts:


  • Clean tile thoroughly before priming or painting
  • Fill any cracks or missing grout with painters caulk
  • Sand tile lightly to scuff up the glossy finish
  • Tape off edges along wall, trim, windows etc before painting
  • Prime tile with a dedicated bonding primer before painting
  • Use high quality mini foam rollers and angled sash brushes
  • Maintain wet edge and