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How to Paint a Tile Backsplash: Kitchen Renovation

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Hello my friends and welcome back to my series on a DIY budget kitchen renovation! Today I’ll be giving an easy tutorial on how to paint a tile backsplash. Can you paint a tile backsplash? Yes you can! This simple tutorial will transform your outdated tile backsplash in one day for a fraction of the cost of new tile. I can’t wait to show you the transformation!

If you’ve missed the rest of the series on my DIY budget kitchen renovation, you can read all about how I painted my kitchen cabinets {here}.

The final post in this series {HERE} includes all of the finishing touches and decor accents that complete a kitchen.

So let’s paint some tile, shall we?!

How to Paint a Tile Backsplash. This simple tutorial will transform your outdated tile in one day for a fraction of the cost of new tile. Read more...

How to Paint a Tile Backsplash

Post may contain affiliate links where I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

If you missed it in my posts on how to paint kitchen cabinets, I do have a free guide and printable materials list for my subscribers! I hope it is helpful to you if you are renovating the entire kitchen along with painting tile backsplash! Subscribe now to gain access to this free guide and my free printable library.

Before

Everyone loves a good before and after. Here is our tile backsplash before. Note that this is not your traditional ceramic tile. It is more porous; however, the process remains the same for both.

How to Paint a Tile Backsplash. This simple tutorial will transform your outdated tile in one day for a fraction of the cost of new tile. Read more...

Many may call this tile neutral and already updated. I really didn’t mind our tile backsplash prior to painting our cabinets white. However, once the cabinets were fresh and clean the tile just screamed at me to paint it too! The biggest issue for me is that the busyness of the countertops combined with the tile pattern weren’t cohesive.

Step 4: Etch the Surface

My tile is a porous tile, which is more likely to soak in paint than many other kitchen backsplashes. Depending on your tile type, you may need to etch the surface so the paint adheres well and is long lasting.

To etch the surface of a glossy tile, start by cleaning it with a calcium/rust cleaner. Clean your tile backsplash with the cleaner and a sponge and then let it dry.

Next, using a very fine grit sandpaper, I recommend 400 grit, to rough up the surface further. Do not use a course sand paper as that will leave visible scratches on the surface of your tile.

After you’ve etched the surface of your tile backsplash, clean it with a damp cloth. Let it dry fully so that the tile and the grout are completely dry.

Latex Paint v. Epoxy to Update Tile Backplash

At this point, you have a choice! Using the above preparation steps, you’ll be able to use a simple latex interior paint or gloss enamel paint to paint your tile backsplash. However, you also have the option to use a tub and tile epoxy specifically made to paint tile.

Pros and Cons of Latex Paint v. Epoxy

There are a pros and cons of each type of paint. First, let’s discuss the option I used, an interior latex paint. The pro of using latex paint or a gloss enamel paint is that it is more affordable, readily available, and can be tinted to any color of choice. It is easily applied with a paint brush and roller, and offers easy clean up during the painting project.

Conversely, using a latex paint requires you to prime your tile with paint primer to help with adhesion and longevity. Additionally, it can be less durable than an epoxy paint.

I used our kitchen for almost a year with the painted tile prior to our full kitchen remodel. In that year, I never had any chips, cracks or peeling from my painted tile backsplash. However, I know that had I continued to use the kitchen as-is, eventually some wear and tear would show.

On the other hand, the pro of using epoxy is that it is highly durable. It is made specifically to adhere to tile, and offers a glossier surface. It also holds up to moisture very well. This makes it easier to clean and less susceptible to chips and peeling.

The two main cons of using epoxy paint is that it can be more expensive depending on the square footage you need to cover, and is highly odorous. So if you choose to go this route, make sure you have proper ventilation.

If you decide to use an epoxy, simply do all the preparation steps stated above, then follow the directions on your epoxy kit. This tub and tile kit comes highly recommended.

If you decide to move forward using a latex paint or enamel paint to paint your tile backsplash, then continue on with this tutorial. Next up: priming!

Step 5: Prime

Just like with cabinetry, you want to give your paint the best surface possible to adhere to. Use a high quality primer to prime your tile backsplash. First use a brush to trim out tight spaces and corners and then finish with a roller.

Make sure to pay special attention to your grout lines. Painting grout with a brush can take more paint than expected since the grout tends to soak the paint up quickly.

How to Paint a Tile Backsplash. This simple tutorial will transform your outdated tile in one day for a fraction of the cost of new tile. Read more...

As you can see, I worked on this project at night. But even with the poor quality photo you can see that the primer itself improves this space dramatically already!

I applied one coat of primer and that was sufficient because of the porousness of my tile. However, if you are painting a glossy tile, I would recommend applying two coats of primer to ensure durability on that slippery surface.

Step 5: Paint

Repeat the same process of priming, but with a high quality paint. I used Magnolia Home’s Cabinetry and Trim paint which comes in a semi-gloss. I highly recommend either using an enamel or a semi-gloss/gloss interior paint.

If you choose to use a matte paint you will need to seal your tiles after painting so they are durable and able to be cleaned.

Apply two coats of paint for extra coverage and durability, allowing ample time between coats to dry fully.

Depending on the color of your existing tile and the color paint you choose, more than 2 coats may be required for full coverage. Once you’ve applied enough coats for full coverage, you can remove your tape!

How to Paint a Tile Backsplash. This simple tutorial will transform your outdated tile in one day for a fraction of the cost of new tile. Read more...

Man, I really need to fix that wonky cabinet. 😉

As you can see this is SUCH a simple process. If you can paint a wall then you can paint a tile backsplash!

Wait for the paint to be fully dry (at least overnight) before re-installing your outlet covers.

Can Grout Be Painted a Different Color?

If you like the high contrast look, then you might not want to paint your grout the same color as your freshly painted tile. If that is the case, then your project may take a turn towards the tedious. You can paint grout with a grout paint pen if you desire a contrasting color!

There are many colors of grout paint found available in an easy to apply pen. If you choose to use a grout paint pen, then the process for how to paint your tile backsplash will look a little different.

You can paint your grout one of two ways:

  1. After preparing the entire backsplash surface with steps 1-4 above, tape off existing grout lines prior to painting your tile backsplash. Then, paint your backsplash tiles fully, remove grout line tape, and use the grout pen to change the color of the paint. If that seems too tedious, try option 2!
  2. Hand paint each individual tile with a brush without touching the grout lines. Yes, this sounds very hard and prone to mistakes! But it is a viable option if you have a steady hand. Once the tiles are painted, you can come back with the grout pen to finish off your backsplash.

How to Paint a Tile Backsplash: The Reveal!

I CANNOT wait to show you the entire kitchen in it’s completed stage. It is killing me to hold it back from you, but we have just a few finishing touches to complete! The full reveal will be in the next post.

In the meantime, don’t you love how fresh the painted tile is?! It’s a completely different kitchen and the entire transformation was done SOLELY with paint!

Updated: The full reveal is live {HERE}.

How to Paint a Tile Backsplash. This simple tutorial will transform your outdated tile in one day for a fraction of the cost of new tile. Read more...

I hope this has been a helpful tutorial on how to paint a tile backsplash! I absolutely love to hear from you so if you follow me on Instagram please tag me in your post showing your progress using one of my tutorials!

Make sure to also follow along on YouTube where I get into these projects in detail.

Before and afters are so inspiring to me and I love seeing how you are benefiting from what you’ve read here.

How to Paint a Tile Backsplash. This simple tutorial will transform your outdated tile in one day for a fraction of the cost of new tile. Read more...

Stay tuned for the final reveal coming soon! And if you’d like a tutorial on how I built these kitchen shelves then leave me a comment below!

Updated: You asked so I answered! Click here for the full DIY open shelving tutorial + free guide!

Looking for More Painting Tips?

Sarah Signature

{Paint can transform anything.}

How to Paint a Tile Backsplash. This simple tutorial will transform your outdated tile in one day for a fraction of the cost of new tile. #paintedtile #kitchenremodel #DIYkitchen

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How to Paint a Tile Backsplash. This simple tutorial will transform your outdated tile in one day for a fraction of the cost of new tile.

42 Comments

  1. Wow the backsplash looks amazing!!!?? You have done such a great job! I also saw the announcement about your ebook! So excited for you!!!

  2. Loved this!! I want to do this in our kitchen!! We’d love for you to join our link up!! Our Inspired Collection, Tuesday-Friday!!

  3. Would painting the tiles of a countertop in addition to the backsplash work? Looking for a “low budget spruce up “ of our kitchen until we can replace our countertops.

    1. Hi Amy! I would recommend using a counter kit if you want to paint the tiles on your counter itself. They are made to be more durable than interior paint and would hold up better to everyday use and water.

  4. Hi! I just wanted to Thank-you for giving me the courage to paint my kitchen back-splash! My story is so similar to yours…I just bought a house and had the kitchen cabinets painted a beautiful white. My designer friend kept saying I would like the back-splash more once the cabinets were painted. Just the opposite! It seemed to scream at me! The granite counter tops were fighting against the tile pretty hard. The tile back-splash I had was very similar to yours. I followed your directions (Thank-you!) step by step and am sooo happy I did! Now I love my kitchen and thrilled with it! Thanks for giving me the nudge to take this leap of faith. The difference is night and day.

  5. I’m so glad I found you, your page is a breath of fresh air..Really it is, it is warm and cool and to me they are a little sexy, a room of whispers.

    Thank you!

  6. Sarah, I just found your site and this post on painting the tile. I love what you did! I’m just wondering if you had to do anything special to the grout or did it just take the primer and paint too with the rest of the tile. I’m excited about the possibility of doing this!

    1. Thank you Donna! I didn’t do anything special to the grout. Just cleaned it and then primed! It took the paint without issue. 🙂

  7. Thanks for the pictures of POUROUS tiles and for the easy instructions. Budget will be happy too. Can hardly wait to start. Soon!

  8. This looks beautiful! Wondering how the paint is holding up – especially behind the stovetop? I am hoping to try your method on our backsplash soon.

    1. Thank you Dana! We ended up remodeling the kitchen about a year after I painted the backsplash. In that year we had no chipping or peeling and were so pleased with the result.

  9. Hello – this looks great. Would you recommend using the same white paint color on the painted tile as the kitchen cabinets? We have SW Pearly White on our cabinets and was wondering if I should use that same white color for the painted tile. Thank you – great post!

    1. Cynthia, do you have any pictures of your cabinets that are painted in SW Pearly White? I am having a tough time deciding on a white cabinet color but like the paint chip card of Pearly White, but i cant find many pictures online! (I found myself on this website because i have horrible orangey toned travertine backsplash that i am trying to find a solution for…painting them may just be the solution! Thank you Sarah!!) Please post some pictures or send to me if you can! Thanks!

  10. I’m getting ready to paint my porous backsplash also. Loved your post, it helped give me the courage to move forward! My question is about the grout line at the bottom of the tile where it connects to the countertop. Did you paint that white as well? It appeared so, but I wanted to double check. Also, did you just place painters tape along the countertops to keep a straight line? Thanks for the help and encouragement

  11. Great tutorial! The backsplash tile in my previous house had the lighter version of your tile, and I liked it fine. However, my current house has your color tile with a terra cotta grout (previous owner’s choice). It screamed at me every time I entered the kitchen! It always looked dirty to me. A year after moving here I got out the flat wall paint and painted over my tiles. What an improvement! Three years later, I’m about to re-paint them with SW Shoji White. This time I’ll use TSP cleaner and primer, before I paint.

  12. Hi! Thanks for posting about painting the backsplash! Just wondering about the grout? Do you paint each individual tile, careful not to paint the grout or did you paint it all?

  13. Love how it came out! I’m thinking of doing this to mine because I feel as though my backsplash is too busy with my countertops. My tiles are ceramic. Should I do any sanding prior to adding any primer?

  14. Hello there, Im definitely doing this to my tile, mine is also very pours and yellow. I was wondering something.
    Will you use the same color for the cabinets you used for the backsplash. It looks the same in the
    Pictures… I want to do a modern farm house style in my kitchen but I have to clue how to combine colors so it wil
    look great.. Im just afraid of painting anything specially tile because there is now way to go back. My counter is granite and very busy and very warm..
    Thanks so much for any advise..

  15. This was the post I’ve been looking for!! I will say you are the first to note you used a Cabinet paint. I JUST painted our kitchen island white (the rest is oak with an ugly brown varied glass backsplash). I used Valspar Cabinet & Furniture paint in Semi-Gloss. Do you think I could use the same after prep and priming the backsplash? Others have noted an enamel or latex paint.. Help!

    1. Yes I do think you can! As long as the prep is good on a glass backsplash so it has enough of a rough surface for the paint to adhere to. Priming will be especially important. Enamel paint is good as well but cabinet paint worked great for me!

  16. I’m About to do my tile backsplash tomorrow! The tile I currently have is almost exactly like yours! I am actually going to try to use the exact same paint you used to because I love the outcome. Great job! I’m having a hard time finding the magnolia homes cabinetry and trim paint. I can find magnolia homes semi gloss interior paint, but nobody seems to have the cabinet and trim paint. Do you think this will make a difference?

  17. Your backsplash looks amazing!! Such a great idea-I’m thinking of doing mine. Did you use the same color for the backsplash as you did the cabinets?

    1. I didn’t have this issue, but that doesn’t mean others wouldn’t. It all depends on ventilation, how often people use their stove tops…etc. 🙂

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