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Painting Tile Backsplash: Updating Ugly Kitchen Tiles (3 Easy Steps!)

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 and easy DIY project for anyone that is on a budget, a time constraint or both. Read on for our simple 3-step process and tips for success!

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 kitchen tile 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.

Is painting kitchen backsplash a good idea?

With a little prep work and using the right materials, painting a tile backsplash is an easy way to update a kitchen or bathroom on a budget. These tiles don’t typically experience the same wear and tear as tile floors leavng less concerns about chips and peeling.

There are numerous reasons you’d opt for painting tile backsplash versus replacing it including:

  • 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 ceramic 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 or expoxy 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 semi-gloss paint or 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 for the Best Results:

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How-to Paint Tile Backsplash:

Always wear protective gloves, glasses, working clothing and optimize ventilation when possible (open windows, use fans) .

The first thing you’ll want to do is clear off the kitchen countertop and cover it with a drop cloth 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. You’ll also want to remove any outlet covers.

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.

Cleaning the ceramic tile with TSP prior to 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 a crucial step. Take the time to clean off the surface, use a scrub rush 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.

Priming the tile backsplash before painting.

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 two coats of primer might be needed. If so, apply a second coat 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 the primer is dry, apply the first coat of paint the same way as you applied the primer: paint brush for grout lines and roller for the entire surface.

Applying a second coat of paint when painting a tile kitchen backsplash.

Work in small sections and repeat as necessary until you achieve your desired coverage. In our case, we applied two coats of surface paint with one coat of primer.

Completed view of kitchen aftern painting tile backsplash.

We are pretty amazed at the huge impact painting the tile back splash made on 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?

Here is the painted tile backsplash before and after:

Before view of the ceramic tile backsplash before it was painted.
The Before
Kitchen tile backsplash painted white and styled with an assortment of wood cutting boards.
The after

Five Year Update: We’re happy to report that the painted tile backsplash has held up really well over time. There are oly a few spots that chipped when a sharp object hit it.

Newly renovated modern coastal kitchen with two-tone cabinets included refinished kitchen back splash.

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?

Like it? Pin it for later!

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.
4.6 from 5 votes


  • 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


  • 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


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

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Wednesday 4th of October 2023

hi, can you share what paint you used?


Monday 18th of December 2023

@bobbi, It says White Paint (Behr Interior/Exterior High Gloss Enamel in white, tinted to match our new painted kitchen cabinets). :-)


Saturday 15th of April 2023

Great job and thanks for the tips. I would like to do this in my kitchen, but I'd like to preserve the grout lines which aren't in bad shape. Also I think the finished product would look more authentically like tiles when complete. Have you ever heard of anyone doing this?

Jane and Sonja

Wednesday 3rd of May 2023

That sounds really interesting. I haven't heard of anyone doing it, but think it would work. Would just take a LOT more time as you'd need to paint each tile individually (or somehow mask the grout lines). Let us know if you decide to do it! -Jane


Monday 28th of February 2022

It’s nice to see a tile backsplash painting tutorial NOT using oil-based paint. I don’t want to deal with the smell or mineral spirits! I already have a ton of that primer from when I painted all of our 90’s orange-y oak woodwork. I just need to get some paint to cover up my tile.


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!!

Jane and Sonja

Wednesday 3rd of May 2023

Hi Kate. It's been four years now since we painted the tile and overall it's held up really well. The paint adhered (hasn't peeled off) and still looks great. There are a few spots where the paint chipped off that must have been dinged by a sharp object. We touched them up with a bit of the leftover paint. And no- sanding the tile wasn't needed. -Jane

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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