How to Paint a Tile Backsplash

Give your kitchen a facelift this weekend with a little elbow grease, some 220-grit sand paper and a lot of epoxy paint. Find out how to paint a tile backsplash with this step-by-step guide and shop everything you need to get started from our comprehensive materials list.

March 10, 2022
Warm Wooden Cabinets in Rustic Kitchen With White Brick Backsplash

Rustic Kitchen Cabinetry

This rustic, modern kitchen pairs warm wooden cabinets with iron finish, metal hardware for a no fuss look. Crisp quartz countertops flow seamlessly to the white, brick-inspired backsplash.

Photo by: Stephanie Studer @lifecreated

Stephanie Studer @lifecreated

Itching to upgrade your kitchen without breaking the bank? We hear you! Updating your tile backsplash with a fresh coat of paint (after 1-2 coats of primer, of course!) will do wonders to update and transform your space in a weekend or less. This DIY home improvement project is budget-friendly, beginner-friendly and allows you to let your design style shine in your home. Go bold with a moody, unexpected paint color that pops against your kitchen cabinets, or keep it classic and airy with trusty white paint, instead.

Ahead, find our must-have tools and materials, plus tips on how to prepare your kitchen. Oh, and be sure to save this page and follow our in-depth, step-by-step instructions while working on this project at home.

Prep Your Kitchen

Supplies

Supplies

Here's what you need to refurbish furniture for outdoor use: Sturdy wooden furniture; paint brushes and/or a paint roller; sand paper and an electric sander; a soft, clean cloth; painter's tape; a drop cloth; exterior latex based primer and paint, a pint is usually enough to cover an average sized piece of furniture.

We know you’re eager to give your kitchen a much-needed makeover, but resist the urge to pop open your paint pail just yet. The key to achieving long-lasting, pro-quality painted kitchen backsplash tiles? Diligent preparation. Take the extra time to shield your countertops, cupboards and floors from accidental paint splatter with plastic or canvas drop cloths. Use painter’s tape to frame the backsplash border and remove switch plates included within your work area.

Clean Your Tile

Whiten grout with hydrogen peroxide.

In the Bathroom: Whiten Grout

Make a 3:1 mixture of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide until it forms a paste. Scrub grout with a clean, stiff-bristle brush. Let sit for a few minutes, and wipe off with a wet rag.

Photo by: Ryan Reed

Ryan Reed

Once your kitchen is draped and taped, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and clean your tile backsplash. It may be tempting to skip this step because paint hides a multitude of sins, but trust us, cleaning is a crucial component for yielding the best results possible. Our suggestion: Slip on rubber gloves and scrub your ceramic tile backsplash with a trisodium phosphate degreaser cleaner. This heavy-duty cleaning agent strips tile of smoke, grease, oil and mildew stains to provide a blank slate for your paint project.

Repair Damaged Tile

Caulk Between Bottom Backsplash Tiles and Countertop

Caulk Between Bottom Backsplash Tiles and Countertop

Load caulk into caulking gun and cut off the tip at a slight angle. Position tip in the gap between countertop and tile. While applying even pressure, slowly move caulk gun along seam, leaving a line of caulk.

Chances are, you are painting your tile backsplash because it is dated, damaged or both. For this step, assess your tile for hairline cracks or corner chips accumulated over the years. Use a putty knife and apply acrylic caulk to repair imperfections. Acrylic (latex) caulk is our suggestion for tile backsplash repair, because it’s easy to paint and manipulate for repairs. Pro tip: Avoid silicone-based caulks because, although they are water-resistant, they are not paint-friendly and require far more effort (and money) to yield the same results as their acrylic counterpart. Allow the caulk to dry before moving on to the next step.

Sand Tile

Sand Countertop

How to Paint Laminate Countertops: Sand Countertop Surface

It’s a good idea to sand any surface before you paint. Use a fine-grit (200 to 220) sandpaper to remove any rough spots on your counter and backsplash.

Photo by: Jalynn Baker

Jalynn Baker

Next on the agenda? Get down to the nitty-gritty of the project — literally — by sanding the backsplash tile surface area. Use 220-grit paper to lightly sand by hand or machine, based on your preference. This step smooths out excess caulk from repairs and removes the existing tile glaze to create a paint-gripping surface. Once sanding is complete, use a wet cloth to remove dust and clean the tile surface before proceeding to prime.

Apply Primer

Interior Door Design KILZ Sponsored Step 3

Interior Door Design KILZ Sponsored Step 3

3. The primer is mixed with a wooden paint stirrer

Photo by: Kimberly Davis

Kimberly Davis

With all your prepping, cleaning and sanding complete, you can finally crack open a pail of paint. Primer paint, to be specific. Use a foam roller or flat paintbrush to apply two or more thin, even layers of white primer to the tile backsplash. Be sure to wait for each layer to dry completely before adding the next coat, as this ensures a uniform canvas for your final step.

Apply Epoxy Paint

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161137321

Photo by: Katja Kircher

Katja Kircher

Now, the final step to your kitchen backsplash makeover: coating your tiles with epoxy paint! The keyword here: epoxy. You must use a tile-specific paint formula to prevent your backsplash from chipping and having uneven results. Tile paints are created to withstand wear and tear and are easier to clean than a traditional wall or furniture paints. Apply the paint in even layers with a foam roller, allowing dry time between each coat until you achieve your desired finish. Our advice? Roll right over the grout. Doing so will save you time and sanity, with equally eye-catching results.

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