How to Paint Travertine Tile Backsplash

Painting a travertine tile backsplash can transform the look of your kitchen or bathroom. With the right preparation and painting technique, you can give your travertine tiles a fresh, updated appearance. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to properly paint travertine tile backsplashes.

Clean and Prepare the Tile Surface

Before painting, it’s crucial to thoroughly clean and prepare the travertine tile. This will help the new paint adhere properly.

  • Remove any existing sealers or coatings from the tile using a sealer stripper. Follow the product instructions carefully.
  • Wash the tiles with a mix of hot water and dish soap or tile cleaner. Use a stiff scrub brush to remove any grime or residues.
  • Rinse well and let the tiles dry completely.
  • Lightly sand the tiles with 220-grit sandpaper to scuff up the surface. This helps with paint adhesion.
  • Vacuum up any dust. Wipe the tiles with a tack cloth to remove debris.

Choose the Right Paint

For best results on tile, use a specialized tile paint:

Choose a color that complements your kitchen or bath. White and cream shades are popular for a clean look. Bold colors like navy or teal can be striking as well.

Prep Your Paint Supplies

Gather your painting supplies before starting:

  • Paint roller and tray
  • Angled trim paint brush
  • Painters tape
  • Tarp or drop cloth
  • Mineral spirits for cleanup
  • Paint stirring stick
  • Rags and paper towels

If using epoxy paint, make sure to have disposable gloves and ventilation, as the fumes can be strong.

Apply Primer

Priming helps the paint stick to the tile and provides a uniform base color.

  • For latex or acrylic paint, use a multi-surface primer.
  • For epoxy, use the manufacturer’s recommended primer.
  • Apply an even coat of primer over the entire backsplash using a mini paint roller.
  • Let the primer dry completely before painting.

Paint the Tile

Now you’re ready to apply the paint. Work in small sections for best results:

  • Stir or shake the paint thoroughly before and during use.
  • Use painters tape to mask off any areas you don’t want painted.
  • Apply the first coat using a mini paint roller. Work in a systematic grid pattern.
  • Let the paint dry per manufacturer’s instructions before applying a second coat.
  • Use an angled trim brush to carefully paint around edges and in grout lines.
  • Apply additional coats as needed until the tile is fully covered.
  • Remove the painters tape immediately after painting.
  • Allow the paint to cure fully before use, typically 24-48 hours.

Maintain the Finish

Once cured, travertine tiles painted with latex or epoxy paint can hold up well for years with proper care:

  • Avoid abrasive cleaners or scrubbing. Use a soft cloth with mild soap and water.
  • Re-seal painted tiles annually with an appropriate sealer to protect from moisture damage.
  • Spot clean any stains quickly to prevent them setting in.
  • Repaint periodically if the finish becomes worn or damaged over time.

With the right preparations and techniques, painting travertine tiles can rejuvenate the look of a backsplash or shower surround. Just be sure to use specialized paints and allow plenty of drying time between coats for a long-lasting finish.

Frequently Asked Questions About Painting Travertine Tile Backsplash

Can I use regular wall paint on travertine tile?

No, regular wall paint does not bond well to tile surfaces. Use a paint specially formulated for tile like epoxy or latex tile paint.

Do I need to seal travertine tile before painting?

Yes, sealing first provides a uniform base and prevents absorptions issues that can cause bonding problems with the new paint.

How do I remove old sealers or coatings from travertine before painting?

Use a chemical sealer stripper applied with a scrub brush. Wear gloves and follow directions. Rinse thoroughly.

What kind of roller should I use to paint travertine tile?

A high density mini foam roller, 4-6 inches wide, works best for applying an even coat on tile backsplashes.

How long does it take for tile paint to fully cure?

Cure times vary by product, but are typically 24-48 hours before the tile can be exposed to regular use and cleaning.

Can painted travertine tile get wet?

Once fully cured, painted tiles have good water resistance. Annual sealing helps maintain water protection. Avoid submerging painted tiles.

How do I get paint out of travertine tile grout lines?

Use a small stiff grout brush dipped in mineral spirits to gently scrub out any paint that unintentionally got into the grout.

Can I use acrylic craft paint on travertine backsplash?

Yes, but acrylic may require more coats and won’t be as durable as epoxy or latex tile paints. Use proper priming and sealing for best results.


Painting over travertine tile backsplashes and shower surrounds allows you to transform the color and look without the hassle and expense of a complete re-tiling job. With careful preparation, proper materials, and good technique, you can achieve professional-looking results. The key is using specialized tile paint, applying multiple thin coats, allowing proper drying time between coats, and maintaining the finish. With a bit of time and effort, you can paint travertine tile backsplashes in any color to give your kitchen or bath a fresh new look.