How to Paint a Kitchen Tile Backsplash

If your kitchen tile backsplash is looking dated or faded, you don't have to install a new backsplash. A simple coat of paint can update the look. Painting is more cost-efficient than replacing tiles with marble or stainless steel. A beginning DIY person should be able to do this. Here are tips to paint a kitchen tile backsplash.

Prepare to Work

For this project, you need:

  • work gloves
  • breathing apparatus 
  • tape measure
  • screwdriver
  • painter's tape
  • drop cloths or plastic
  • tack cloth
  • steel wool pad
  • medium-grade sandpaper
  • low-nap roller (such as one-fourth nap)
  • wax cleaner
  • abrasive cleaner (Comet,etc)
  • paint brush
  • prime
  • paint thinner
  • paint

Open a window to ventilate. Use an abrasive cleaner and a steel wool pad to clean the tile. Rinse the cleaner, then let ti dry. Repeat with the wax cleaner to remove grease, and let the area dry for several hours.

Lay plastic or drop cloths over areas you don't want touched by paint. Add painter's tape around trim. Seal tape edges by going over them with a flat edge. Then, use a screwdriver to detach outlet screws on switch plate. Set the plate and screws aside. and cover openings with painter's tape.

Buy Paint

Measure the area to determine how much paint you need. Buy extra paint to ensure you have enough. The extra paint can be used for touch ups later, if needed. Eco-friendly paints such as water-based urethane resin are excellent for tiles. You don't have to use just one color. Paint stripes, checkerboards, or even a picture, if you are artistic.

Sand and Prime

Sand the backsplash using medium-grit sandpaper. You may prefer to use a sanding tool, if time is an issue. Sanding helps the paint stick better. Moisten a tack cloth with water, and clean sand dust.

Thin the primer with paint thinner, if desired, to help the paint go on surface smoothly. Use the roller to spread primer on large sections, and apply primer on trim with the brush. Let the primer dry.


Mix the paint according to directions, if needed. Paint and paint thinner is commonly mixed at a one to ten ratio. Then, roll the paint on the surface; using the brush to paint trim. Don't go back over any areas too often, or the paint will peel. Change rollers or brushes as needed.

Let the paint dry. Read the directions before you apply a second coat. A third coat may be needed, if the tiles are dark. Once you're done, remove the drop cloths or plastic and tape, and reinstall outlet covers.

A coat of paint can work wonders on a backsplash. If you don't trust your skill, or you need exterior painting done, contact a commercial painting service.