How to Paint Travertine Backsplash

Painting a travertine backsplash can update the look of your kitchen or bathroom. Travertine is a type of natural stone that has a porous, pitted surface, which can make painting it challenging. With proper preparation and technique, you can successfully paint a travertine backsplash and give it a fresh new look.

Prep the Travertine Surface

Proper prep work is crucial for the paint to adhere correctly to the travertine. Here are the steps:

  • Clean the travertine thoroughly with a stone cleaner or mild detergent and water to remove any dirt, oils or waxes. Rinse well and allow to fully dry.
  • Sand the surface lightly with 120-150 grit sandpaper to roughen it up and allow the paint to grip better.
  • Clean the travertine again to remove all dust. Let it dry completely.
  • Apply a bonding primer or etching primer designed for tile and stone. This helps the paint bind to the non-porous areas. Apply an even coat according to the manufacturer’s directions.
  • Let the primer dry completely before painting.

Choose the Right Paint

The type of paint you use will impact how well it adheres and lasts on the travertine:

  • Epoxy paint is a two-part coating that is extremely durable and bonds well to tile and stone. It leaves a hard, glossy finish when cured.
  • Acrylic paint formulated for interior masonry can be used. Look for a primer-included acrylic made for tile.
  • Specialty tile paint is available that works well on stone and grout. Use one with built-in primer and an acrylic or epoxy formula.
  • For best results, choose a satin or semi-gloss finish over flat. Higher sheens are more washable.

Apply the Paint

Follow these tips when applying the paint for a smooth, even finish:

  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for prep, dry times, application, and clean up.
  • Use a high-quality nylon/polyester brush for best results. Apply in thin, even coats.
  • A small foam roller can help apply an even coat over large backsplash areas. Avoid excessive rolling.
  • Work in sections, cutting along grout lines. Use painter’s tape on edges for a crisp line.
  • Allow proper dry time between coats as directed by the paint brand. Two coats are usually needed for best coverage.
  • Smooth out any drips or brush marks as you go using a wet brush. Feather out edges.
  • Remove all painter’s tape after the final coat before the paint fully dries.
  • Allow the paint to cure fully before cleaning or using the backsplash. Check the brand’s cure time.

Maintenance and Touch-ups

Painted travertine requires proper care and some occasional touch-ups:

  • Allow the paint to cure fully, generally 3-7 days. Avoid scrubbing or cleaning before it has fully hardened.
  • Use only gentle, non-abrasive cleaners designed for stone and tile. Avoid acidic cleaners.
  • Spot clean any stains immediately to prevent absorption into the porous travertine.
  • Touch up any chips or damage to maintain the painted finish. Sand lightly before spot painting.

Painting travertine backsplash tiles is an affordable way to update the look of your kitchen or bath without replacing the tiles. With the right prep and application, the paint can rejuvenate the travertine with a fresh new color. Follow the manufacturer’s directions and be patient during the drying and curing times for a long-lasting finish.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does painted travertine last?

With proper prep and application, painted travertine can last 3-5 years or longer before needing touch-ups. High-quality epoxy paints can last even longer. Using a durable satin or semi-gloss finish helps extend the life.

Does the paint fill the holes in travertine?

It will not completely fill the holes or pits, but using multiple coats will help cover them up well. A filler product designed for travertine can be used first to reduce the holes before painting.

What sheen is best for painted travertine?

A satin or semi-gloss finish is best and most durable. The subtle sheen helps hide imperfections. A flat finish shows more defects and scuffs easily.

Can you use acrylic paint on travertine?

Yes, as long as it is an interior masonry acrylic paint designed for use on tile, stone, and grout. Be sure it has primer built-in for best adhesion on the non-porous travertine.

How do you prepare travertine for painting?

Proper prep is vital – clean thoroughly, lightly sand, apply etching primer, and allow drying fully between steps. This helps the paint properly adhere to the stone surface.


Updating the look of travertine backsplash has never been easier. With the right preparation and painting technique, the travertine tiles can be transformed with a durable and beautiful painted finish. Be sure to use specialty bonding primer and paint formulated for masonry for long lasting results. Proper care will keep your freshly painted travertine backsplash looking like new for years before needing touch-ups.