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Painting Tile Backsplash: Bye-bye Ugly Kitchen Tiles

We are really excited to share our latest DIY project with you today. We think it will be very helpful to anyone considering a budget-friendly kitchen remodel or a simple kitchen makeover. Painting tile backsplash is a great option for anyone that is on a budget, a time constraint or both.

Tips and tricks for painting tile backsplash in the kitchen

Painting Tile Backsplash in 3 Easy Steps!

When it came to our coastal cottage kitchen renovation plans, we were pretty torn on what to do with the backsplash.

Hands down, we knew the existing tiles wouldn’t work with our new coastal cottage kitchen design ideas: the fruit and vegetable decals throughout the backsplash was not exactly the calming beach feel we were going for. However, we didn’t have it in our budget and timeline to completely replace the existing tile.

On goes the light bulb: let’s try a painted tile backsplash instead!

Now that all the work was done, we are very pleased with the final cottage kitchen design. You can also see how to paint kitchen cabinets without sanding, which can also have huge savings on an overall  kitchen remodeling budget.

View of the painted tile backsplash behind a stove in the kitchen.

There are numerous reasons you’d opt for painting tile backsplash:

  • Skip the mess – no need to painstakingly remove existing tiles with a tile chipper or hammer and chisel.
  • Cost – removing existing tile, re-dry walling damaged areas, mudding and finally adding new tile and grout is very labour intensive which adds to cost. Not to mention the added cost of purchasing tile that ranges for different types.
  • Time – all the steps to removing and replacing existing tile backsplash is tedious and time consuming. Depending on the size of your kitchen, re-tiling could add weeks to a kitchen remodel.
  • Minimal skill needed – unlike tiling, painting tile backsplash is quite simple. Continue reading for the full how-to instructions.

Which Tile Paint to Use for a Backsplash?

When painting tile you want to keep a few things in mind: adhesion, durability and finish.

As we cover in detail below, for optimal adhesion you want to clean the tile completely and then prime it. The primer will help your paint to stick to the tile and prevent pealing over time.

For maximum durability, be sure to use an acrylic paint that’s built for high traffic and moisture. Look for a high-quality kitchen and bath paint, or paints that can be used both for interior/exterior.

Finally, for both durability and acheiving the right “look” for a tile backsplash, consider a high-gloss finish paint. High gloss paints are generally easier to clean, more durable and can look more elegant for a backsplash.

OK, now that the basics are covered, let’s get started with with our painted ceramic tile backsplash!

Materials Needed:

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How-to Paint Tile Backsplash:

Clear off the kitchen countertop and cover with a drop sheet to protect the surface if you plan to keep the counters. In our case, we were planning to replace them so we left them uncovered and unscrewed them from the lower cabinets.

Step 1: Prepare the Tile Surface for Painting

Thoroughly clean the tiled back splash using a degreaser and a cloth or rag. Scrub the tile surfaces and in the grout lines for a proper cleaning. Leave the backsplash to dry fully after cleaning before painting. In our case, we left it to dry for 24 to 48 hours.

painting tile backsplash

In some areas that the grease was not removed well, we found the primer and paint did not adhere well. So although this step may seem tedious, it is extremely important. Take the time to clean off the surface, use a scrub if necessary to remove all grease especially in and around the stove area.

Step 2: Prime the Backsplash Tile

Apply a good coat of primer using a paint brush for all the grout lines and any decals in the tile.

painting tile backsplash

Using a small roller, apply the primer to the entire ceramic tile surface of the backsplash. Depending on the color and texture of existing back splash, a second coat of primer might be needed. If so, repeat with another application of primer. Leave the backsplash to dry fully between primer coats and before switching to the next step: applying the paint.

Step 3: Paint the Ceramic Tile Backsplash

Once dry, begin to apply the surface paint the same way as you applied the primer: paint brush for grout lines and roller for the entire surface.

painting tile backsplash

Repeat as necessary until you achieve your desired coverage. In our case, we applied two coats of surface paint with one coat of primer.

painting tile backsplash

We are pretty amazed at the difference it made with the overall look of the kitchen renovation. The painted kitchen backsplash looks beautiful with the new painted kitchen cabinets and new quartz countertop, don’t you think?

painting tile backsplash
The Before
The after

Over the next few months we’ll monitor and share how well the painted backsplash holds up.

Newly renovated modern coastal kitchen with two-tone cabinets

I will most likely do this option for my home kitchen as well when I go to update the existing cabinets, flooring and backsplash.

There are so many beautiful tiles available that it can be very tempting to want to replace the tile. And chances are if it were in our budget and timeline, we would have chosen this fish scale tile* for our coastal cottage kitchen renovation. But for now, we are very happy to have kept our existing tile backsplash and updated the look simply with a few coats of paint.

Are you considering a kitchen makeover?

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Farmhouse style accessories in an all-white kitchen include white painted tile blacksplash

How to Paint Tile Backsplash in 3 Easy Steps

Jane and Sonja
Painting tile backsplash can be a budget friendly and time saving way to give a kitchen or bathroom a completely new look.
5 from 2 votes

Equipment

  • Heavy duty cleaner and degreaser
  • Cotton cloth for cleaning
  • High gloss acrylic paint in color of your choice
  • Water based primer
  • Paintbrush
  • Paint roller (small sized) and tray
  • Drop sheet

Instructions
 

  • Thoroughly clean the tiled back splash using a degreaser and a cloth or rag.
    painting tile backsplash
  • Apply a good coat of primer using a paint brush for all the grout lines and any decals in the tile.
  • Once dry, begin to apply the surface paint the same way as you applied the primer: paint brush for grout lines and roller for the entire surface.
    painting tile backsplash

Notes

Visit the post for additional tips and suggestions for painting tile backsplash.
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Kate

Wednesday 28th of July 2021

I'm curious how the paint has held up since you completed the project. Also, you didn't need to lightly sand the tile? Thanks!!

Jackie Wallace

Wednesday 26th of May 2021

Wow! This made such a huge difference in your kitchen. I am obsessed with how this turned out. I just moved into a new house in Brevard County and I am going to have to give this a try. With the updated backsplash and a kitchen cabinet color change, I am hoping my kitchen will look as good as yours. Thanks for all the great tips!

Jane and Sonja

Wednesday 9th of June 2021

That sounds so exciting, hope the move has gone well. Painting the backsplash really did make a huge difference for us and on a low-budget! All the best, Sonja

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Wednesday 2nd of October 2019

Easy to do nice job doing this one, Thanks for sharing this informative article.

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Tuesday 29th of December 2020

It’s very pretty and your kitchen looks brighter. Thank you for showing us this wonderful makeover.

Naomi Franco

Thursday 12th of September 2019

How has the paint held up?

Ariana Gomez

Saturday 2nd of February 2019

Woah, Your ideas are really inspiring, but I am having quartz tiles on my walls of the kitchen so would you let me know if we can paint quartz tiles too?

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