How to Paint Tile Backsplash Kitchen

Meta Description: A detailed guide on preparing and painting kitchen tile backsplashes, including techniques for cleaning, preparing, priming, painting, and sealing tiles to change their color and refresh your kitchen.


Painting over existing kitchen tile backsplash is an affordable way to update the look of your kitchen without going through the hassle and expense of a full remodel. With proper preparation and technique, you can give tile a fresh new color.

This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know to successfully paint kitchen tile backsplash, including:

  • Cleaning and preparing the tile surface
  • Choosing the right primer and paint
  • Application techniques like rolling, brushing, and spraying
  • Sealing the painted tile
  • Maintenance tips

Follow these steps and you can transform your outdated, damaged tile into a like-new backsplash that looks clean, uniform, and updated.

Step 1: Clean and Prepare the Tile Surface

Before painting tile, it’s crucial to start with a clean surface so the paint adheres properly. Here’s how to clean and prep tile:

  • Remove any existing grout haze, soap scum, grease, or dirt with an all-purpose cleaner or degreaser. Scrub well.
  • Sand down any glossy areas so the paint can grip properly. Use fine grit sandpaper.
  • Wash off any sanding dust. Let the tile dry fully.
  • Fill any cracked or missing grout lines with premixed grout. Let dry completely.
  • Consider applying a deglossing solution to remove any remaining gloss or sealants.

Thorough cleaning and light sanding gives the paint something to “grab” onto. Ensure the tile is fully dry before priming or painting.

Step 2: Choose Primer and Paint

For the best long-lasting finish,always use primer when painting tile. The primer helps the paint better adhere to the non-porous tile surface.

Look for these features in a primer and paint:

  • Adhesion-promoting primer – Specifically made for slick surfaces like tile and metal. Often called “bonding primers.”
  • Enamel paint – Gloss or satin enamel paints are tougher than flat paints. The harder finish resists moisture, grease, and wear-and-tear.
  • Color options – Many tile paint kits come with primers and paints meant to be used together. Or choose separate primer and paint for custom colors.
  • Mold/mildew resistance – Formulas with added biocides help kitchen paint resist moisture and humidity.

Apply at least two coats of paint for best coverage and durability. Light tile colors like white may require extra coats for opacity.

Step 3: Paint Application Techniques

Use these techniques for a smooth, consistent finish:


  • Use a short-nap or foam paint roller sized for smooth surfaces. Load it well with paint.
  • Roll vertically first. Then quickly re-roll horizontally before the paint dries.
  • Avoid excessive rolling back-and-forth or paint may start peeling off the roller.


  • Use a synthetic-bristle brush for enamel paint.
  • Brush vertically first. Then re-brush horizontally.
  • Make sure edges and grout lines are well-coated.


  • Hold can 10-12 inches away and apply light, even coats.
  • Spray vertically first. Then re-apply horizontally.
  • Spray painting is quicker but requires tarps for overspray.

Pro Tip: Only paint a small section at a time and maintain a wet edge as you go to prevent lap marks and variations in color.

Step 4: Seal the Painted Tile

Once paint has fully cured for 24-48 hours, apply a clear acrylic sealer. The sealer adds glossy finish and protects the finish.

  • Choose indoor tile sealers or polyurethane for kitchens. Outdoor sealers resist UV rays.
  • Apply with a clean sponge brush or paint pad applicator.
  • 2-3 thin, even coats of sealer ensures proper coverage.
  • Let dry fully between coats and avoid excess sealer dripping.

Sealing painted tile isn’t mandatory but helps extends the life and maintains the appearance of your newly painted finish.

Painted Tile Backsplash Maintenance Tips

  • Avoid abrasive scrubbers and harsh cleaners which can damage the paint over time.
  • Use gentle cleaners safe for enamel surfaces.
  • Re-apply sealer every 1-2 years or whenever glossy finish appears dull.
  • Immediately clean up spills and messes to avoid possible stains.
  • Consider re-painting after 3-5 years or whenever paint appears faded or worn.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of paint adheres best to ceramic tile?

Enamel paints with bonding primers specifically made for slick, non-porous surfaces like tile offer the best adhesion and most durable finish.

Can I use interior latex paint?

Interior latex paint alone tends to chip or peel off of tile over time. An adhesion-promoting primer is recommended.

What sheen of paint should I use?

Gloss, semi-gloss, or satin enamel paints offer a more durable and wipeable finish for kitchen tile backsplashes. Flat paint shows scuffs more easily.

How do I paint around tile edging and grout lines?

Use a small trim brush to carefully paint around the edges and grout lines. A dampened q-tip can also help for tight areas.

Can I paint over cracked or damaged tile?

It’s best to replace any cracked, chipped, or broken tiles before painting. Fill any missing grout first with new grout.

How soon can I use the newly painted tile backsplash?

Allow the paint to cure fully for 24-48 hours and an additional 1-2 days if sealed before regular use and cleaning. Handle gently at first.


With proper preparation, primers, paints, and application techniques, you can successfully paint existing kitchen backsplash tiles for a dramatically updated look. Pay attention to cleaning, sanding, and drying tile before painting and sealing. Use quality primer and paint designed specifically for tile and kitchens.

Painting tile backsplash yourself can save thousands over a professional remodel. Just allow plenty of time for careful prep work and paint curing. Follow these tips and you can achieve long-lasting results.