How to Paint Your Backsplash

Painting your backsplash can completely transform the look and feel of your kitchen. A fresh coat of paint is an easy and affordable way to give your backsplash an update without replacing the tile. This comprehensive guide will walk you through all the steps for successfully painting a backsplash, from proper prep work to picking the perfect paint. With some time and effort, you can achieve a backsplash makeover that makes your kitchen look brand new.

Why Paint Your Backsplash?

There are many great reasons to paint your existing backsplash instead of replacing it:

  • Cost savings – Buying new tile and re-tiling can be expensive. Painting is very budget-friendly in comparison.
  • Quick update – Prepping and painting can be done over a weekend versus waiting weeks for new tile installation.
  • Color change – Don’t like the current color? Paint allows you to easily switch to a new hue.
  • Cover imperfections – Paint can mask chips, cracks, discoloration, and other flaws in existing tile.
  • Trendy look – A painted backsplash is on-trend and gives a cottage, vintage, or farmhouse vibe.

Painting the backsplash is a great DIY project for any homeowner looking to update their kitchen on a budget and on a timeline.

Preparing to Paint the Backsplash

Proper prep work is crucial for getting the best end results when painting a backsplash. Follow these steps before starting to paint:

Clean the Backsplash

Make sure your backsplash is clean before painting. Wash it with a degreasing cleaner or mild soap and water solution. This removes any dirt, grease, or residues that could prevent proper paint adhesion. Pay special attention to the grout lines. Consider using a toothbrush to scrub them clean.

Repair Any Damage

Inspect the backsplash tile and grout for any damage. Use grout caulk or epoxy to seal and fill any cracked or missing grout. Scrape off any old caulk and re-caulk around the edges and seams where the backsplash meets the countertops, walls, etc. Repair any cracked or broken tiles if possible.

Remove Accessories

Take down any mounted accessories on the backsplash before painting like knife blocks, spice racks, paper towel holders, etc. You don’t want to accidentally paint over these!

Use Painter’s Tape

Cover any areas you don’t want to get paint on using painter’s tape. Tape off the countertops, walls, cabinets, outlets, light switches, etc that meet the backsplash. Blue painter’s tape can be left on surfaces for up to 14 days without leaving residue.

Sand Glossy Tile (Optional)

If your backsplash has a glossy finish, lightly sand the tiles to rough up the surface before painting. This helps the paint better adhere. Use 220-400 grit sandpaper and avoid scrubbing all the way down to the natural tile.

The backsplash should now be prepped and ready for painting!

Choosing the Right Paint

Picking the right type of paint ensures you get a smooth and durable finished product. Consider these factors when selecting paint for a backsplash:

Latex Paint

A high-quality latex paint is ideal for painting backsplash tile. Latex paint adheres well, dries faster than oil-based paints, and allows for easy clean up with water. Look for an interior latex paint with high adhesion properties.

Gloss Finish

Opt for a semi-gloss or high gloss paint finish. The glossiness is easy to clean and resists stains, splatters, and grime that could collect on the backsplash. Stay away from flat or matte paints – they show dirt much more.


The possibilities are endless for color! Choose a shade that complements your cabinets, countertops, and overall kitchen decor. Whites, grays, and light blues are popular backsplash colors, but get creative. Accent walls are trending in kitchens.

Mold Resistance

Since the backsplash is prone to water exposure, consider using a kitchen & bathroom paint that has added mold and mildew resistance. This will help it hold up better over time.

Enamel Paint

For a super strong, scrubbable finish, use enamel paint. Porcelain enamel or a two-part epoxy paint are also great options that withstand heat and moisture.

Be sure to get enough paint to cover the entire backsplash area. Primer is typically not needed if the tiles were properly sanded and cleaned.

Application Tips for Painting the Backsplash

Follow these tips when applying paint to the backsplash:

Ventilate the Room

Turn on exhaust fans, open windows, etc to keep the kitchen area well ventilated while painting. This helps the paint dry faster.

Use Proper Brushes

Look for angled sash paintbrushes about 2-3 inches wide. The angled brush makes it easier to cut in along edges and corners.

Roll On First Coat

Use a small foam roller to apply the first coat of paint over the entire backsplash. Roll vertically first, then horizontally.

Cut In With Brush

Use the angled sash brush to carefully “cut in” around the outer edges where the backsplash meets countertops, walls, cabinets etc.

Apply Second Coat

Let the first coat dry completely, then apply a second coat using the roller and brush technique. The second coat provides full, even coverage.

Remove Tape

Once the final coat has dried, carefully remove all of the painter’s tape used for prep. Do this slowly to avoid pulling off any fresh paint.

Clean Up Overlap

Use a razor to score any paint that overlapped onto the countertops, cabinets, or walls during painting. Then wipe it away with a damp towel.

Take your time with the painting process for best results. With some patience and the right techniques, you can achieve a professionally painted looking backsplash!

How to Paint Popular Backsplash Tile Materials

The specific tile material of your existing backsplash may require slightly different prep and painting techniques:

Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tile backsplashes need to be sanded first before painting to rough up the glossy surface. Clean thoroughly and use latex paint.

Porcelain Tile

Porcelain is tougher than ceramic tile and usually doesn’t require sanding. It also needs a primer coat before painting because of its dense surface.

Glass Tile

To paint glass backsplash tiles, use a bonding primer first. Apply latex paint in thin, even coats. Enamel paint also works well.

Metal Tile

For metal backsplashes, thoroughly clean and sand the surface. Apply a metal etching primer first, then a quality latex paint. Enamel is also a good option.

Stone Tile

With natural stone backsplash tiles, use an etching primer or bonding paint coat first. This helps the new paint stick properly.

Make sure to pick the right paint and prep method for the specific material to ensure it adheres and lasts.

Painting Backsplash Grout

Don’t forget about the grout lines when painting the backsplash! Here are some tips:

  • For wider grout lines, use grout paint or epoxy grout caulk to coat just the grout. This avoids getting paint on the tiles.
  • Choose a contrasting grout color like bright white on a dark backsplash or vice versa.
  • If you do get paint on the grout when painting the tiles, just go back over with the matching grout paint or caulk.
  • Make sure to get paint down into the grout lines for full coverage and hold a wet rag behind the brush.
  • If a section already has existing stained or discolored grout, use a grout whitening product or brush-on grout colorant before painting.

Painting just the grout lines is an easy DIY backsplash refresh!

Paint Finish Options

Beyond basic painting techniques, there are some additional finish options that create more unique looks:

Distressed Paint

After painting the backsplash, go back and scrub areas with course sandpaper to distress the paint and expose some of the underlying tile and grout. This gives an antiqued or timeworn appearance.

Sponge Effects

Use small sponges to dab on accent colors over the base paint coat before it dries. This adds mottled, textured effects.

Faux Finishes

Try using decorative painting techniques like sponging, rag rolling, stippling, etc to mimic materials like stone, metal, limestone, etc. Lots of tutorials online provide guidance on creating faux finishes.

Get creative with different painting techniques to customize the backsplash to your desired style!

Protecting the Newly Painted Backsplash

Take these additional steps to protect and maintain the backsplash paint:

  • Avoid cleaning with abrasive scouring pads or scrub brushes. Use soft rags instead.
  • Rinse the backsplash often when cooking to prevent grease buildup.
  • Apply a sealant like polyurethane if you want added protection, especially behind the stove.
  • Touch up any paint chips or damage as soon as possible to avoid moisture getting under the paint.
  • Consider reapplying fresh paint every 2-4 years for optimal appearance. Spot paint as needed.

Proper care keeps your painted backsplash looking like new for years!

Painting Backsplash FAQs

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about painting a backsplash:

Is painting a backsplash difficult for a beginner DIYer?

Painting a backsplash is totally manageable for a beginner! Just be patient, use proper painter’s tape, and do the prep work. The painting itself is fairly straightforward.

What’s the best way to paint behind a mounted microwave?

Remove the microwave to paint behind it. If removal isn’t possible, use painter’s tape and carefully cut in around the edges with a small trim brush.

Should I paint my backsplash the same color as my walls?

Painting it the same color as walls can make the backsplash blend in too much. Contrasting colors tend to look best. But if you do want to match, choose a shade slightly darker or lighter than the wall color.

How do I paint around an outlet on the backsplash?

Use painter’s tape to cover the outlet plate itself. Then use a steady hand to carefully cut in around the outlet edges with the paint brush.

What type of paint adheres best to laminate backsplashes?

For laminate backsplashes, use an oil-based bonding primer first, then a quality latex paint. The oil primer helps the paint stick.

Take your time with the prep work and application, and your painted backsplash will turn out beautifully!


Painting the existing backsplash is an easy, thrifty kitchen update that makes a big visual impact. Properly cleaning and prepping the backsplash is key to ensure the new paint adheres and lasts. Latex paint in a gloss finish provides a scrubbable and stain-resistant coating. Careful cutting in around edges and two coats of coverage result in a seamless finish.

Beyond basic painting, consider adding antique distressing or faux finishes for extra personality. Keeping the freshly painted backsplash looking its best involves gentle cleaning, moisture prevention, and occasional touch ups.

With some diligence and effort up front, a painted backsplash offers a stylish facelift over drab, dated tile. This project can be accomplished in a weekend and adds lots of value to any kitchen. Get creative with colors and finishes to design a backsplash that showcases your personal taste. In no time, you’ll have a revamped focal point that makes cooking and entertaining a joy.