Painting Your Kitchen's Tile Backsplash: A Step-by-Step Guide (Including Video)

Are you interested in revamping your outdated kitchen backsplash without the hassle of removing it? We have a fantastic DIY project that you'll absolutely adore - transforming your tile through the power of paint.

Please note that all recommendations expressed in this post are honest and based on our own experiences. We may earn a small commission through affiliate links, but rest assured that it won't cost you any extra. You can find more information in our comprehensive privacy policy.

white painted backsplash with red apples on counter in kitchen

Can glass tiles be painted, you ask? Absolutely! It's truly remarkable how simple and swift the process of painting glass tiles can be. By ensuring a thorough cleaning, proper preparation, and using the right materials, your painted tiles will remain beautiful for years to come. I can't help but feel a tinge of regret for not indulging in this DIY endeavor earlier.

In all fairness, we attempted to modernize our kitchen by adding this backsplash without resorting to the expensive and time-consuming task of replacing or painting everything, including our oak cabinets. When we initially moved into our house, we were well aware that the kitchen required some updates (take a glimpse at what our kitchen cabinets looked like before we painted them). Over time, we transformed the oak cabinets into a sleek white and installed a glass backsplash with brand new countertops. Nevertheless, the glass mosaic backsplash, which we implemented around eight years ago, seemed outdated and never quite matched the overall aesthetic.

green painted kitchen cabinets with white upper cabinets and glass mosaic tile before painting

Now, after eight years, we've eagerly embraced the two-toned kitchen cabinet trend and yearned for an entirely fresh look for our backsplash. As you can see, we were simultaneously engaged in painting the lower cabinets and doors (you can find our detailed door painting process by following this link).

First and foremost, is painting tile a viable option? While we haven't yet experimented with painting tile floors or tubs, we firmly believe that painting your tile backsplash is a magnificent way to modernize your kitchen. Notably, backsplashes don't endure the same wear and tear as other tiles in your home. Additionally, you can achieve a contemporary appearance without the arduous task of removing the tile entirely.

For us, it was a calculated risk - if the painting didn't yield satisfactory results, we would have needed to replace the tile regardless. Surprisingly, we were astounded by the resounding success of our tile painting project.

"Who knows what you might discover? Simply grab a paintbrush and be pleasantly surprised."

A DIY Motto by The DIY Nuts.

What prompted my decision to opt for a white tile color?

By painting the tile white, I achieved a unified subway tile aesthetic. I desired a touch of bright white in our countertops.

I chose not to go for a warmer white shade to avoid clashing with our existing upper cabinets, white moldings, and doors.

Fortunately, changing the color is a simple task if I ever desire to do so. Should you need assistance, we have a wealth of real-life examples showcasing white kitchens for you to compare different white cabinet paints; just visit this link.

What was the time frame for painting the tile backsplash?

This proved to be an incredibly straightforward and quick DIY home project. The only aspect that required the most time was waiting for the paint to dry. With approximately 20 square feet of tile, we managed to complete the tile painting process within a span of two days.

The most time-consuming stage is the preparation. Each layer of primer or paint took approximately 30-40 minutes to apply.

What materials should you utilize for painting tile?

We extensively researched various methods for painting tile. The general consensus among experts is that thorough preparation is crucial. It is imperative to start with a clean surface when embarking on any painting project. Therefore, we utilized dawn dish soap, extra-fine sandpaper, and a product called Krud Kutter to achieve optimal cleanliness for our tile backsplash.

Some DIY enthusiasts advocated for using an electric sander and a substance called TSP. Personally, I found that my tile did not have excessive grease, simplifying the preparation process considerably.

Regarding the paint situation, once we stumbled upon a primer (more details to come) that we believed would be suitable, we proceeded to utilize a 2.5" angled brush and a small foam roller to apply our preferred hybrid paint from Sherwin Williams.

Simplified printable guidelines can be found at the end of this article.

This particular aspect actually consumed a significant amount of my time due to the unavailability of the desired primer in certain places. As my initial preference, I always opt to consult with the knowledgeable staff at Sherwin Williams who can guide me towards the appropriate product. Generally, paint stores are well-equipped with expertise. Hence, I suggest visiting one and discussing your project with them.

can of primer sitting on store while tile backsplash is primed.

However, I should mention that the person you encounter at any establishment does make a difference. Therefore, I acknowledge that my previous statement is solely based on personal experience.

Due to the scarcity of the bonding primer I intended to use within the supply chain or at Sherwin Williams, they recommended the utilization of Stix and I proceeded to order it from Amazon. However, even with this alternative, the delivery was delayed.

paint stick with high reflective white paint in front of can of white paint.

Consequently, I made my way to Home Depot where I stumbled upon this particular primer specifically designed for glossy surfaces in kitchens and bathrooms. Given its price, I decided to purchase it and test it in a small area.

In the video provided within this article, you can observe how I extensively examined the area by rubbing the tile to confirm if the primer had truly adhered before proceeding to paint the entire backsplash.

What type of paint is suitable for painting glass tile?

Upon completing the painting of our kitchen island using Sherwin Williams Urethane Trim Enamel, I immediately recognized that this was the ideal paint for our purposes. The self-leveling properties of this paint will undoubtedly meet your expectations. Consequently, I purchased a gallon of white paint, assuming that I would eventually repaint our upper cabinets whenever I find some spare time.

paint that tile backsplash with before and after picture

Additionally, you can witness how we utilized the same primer and paint to effectively transform a laminate bathroom countertop. We genuinely appreciate the convenience of employing the same materials for various DIY painting projects.

Choose the desired paint finish

There are additional factors to take into account when determining the desired finish for your tiles.

  • We found that semi-gloss was the ideal choice because it provides a slightly glossy appearance to the tiles. We also prefer using semi-gloss for the trim and cabinets as well. For maintenance purposes, we recommend sticking to either semi-gloss or gloss paint.
  • Using semi-gloss or gloss paint enables us to easily clean our backsplash. Yes, we've had a few bacon splatters!
  • It's worth mentioning that some readers have mentioned they regret not choosing gloss paint for a bit more contrast with their cabinets. The preference for a certain look varies from person to person. The only downside to using gloss paint is that it may reveal imperfections more prominently compared to semi-gloss paint.
hand using sponge to clean and prep backsplash to be painted.

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Additional Factors to Consider

  • Consider using an tile epoxy kits. However, keep in mind that they tend to have a strong odor and how often do you really touch a kitchen backsplash compared to other areas in your home? Since this area is not a bathroom floor or similar, we decided to opt for a simpler method.
  • If you choose to use a kit, you will also need to compare the different shades of white available. Not all white paints are created equal. By purchasing a gallon of Sherwin Williams' High Reflective White (untinted), I knew I could use that paint to ensure a consistent match if I ever wanted to in the future.
faucet wrapped in Cling Wrap to help with paint prep of tile.

Should you paint over grout lines?

Begin by using a brush to cover all the grout lines. Then, use a small roller to create a smooth finish. By using a single color and painting over the grout lines, you can achieve a clean look.

Tile Backsplash Painting Tutorial

krud kutter and frog tape on counter in front of to-be painted backsplash.

Watch the video included in this post for visual guidance.

Clean the tiles using dawn dish soap and a sponge. It's important to eliminate any grease and grime.

Thoroughly clean the areas around your stove, as they tend to accumulate more dirt and grease (hello, bacon in our household).

Wipe dry.

Clean the surfaces that you do not want to be painted, such as the countertops and window frames. Apply painter's tape to these areas. Use your fingernail to press along the seam between the countertops and the tiles. You may need to apply caulk to this area after painting.

tile backsplash being painted white

Here's a helpful DIY paint tip! Use Press N' Seal Wrap to protect the surfaces that you don't want to be painted. We used this technique when painting our oak railing with two different colors.

This method worked particularly well for the faucet. If you wrap it loosely enough, you can still use the faucet without any issues!

To prepare the tiles, wipe them down with a deglosser. You can use Gloss Off Prepaint Surface Preparation for this.

glass tile getting painted white in kitchen remodel

Apply primer to the grout using a brush. Work in small sections. If your tiles are larger, you can use a roller in the grout lines after brushing. However, since our glass tiles are small, I only used a brush for the primer. This resulted in a slight texture, which I preferred over completely flat-looking tiles.

Ensure that you delicately sweep away any excess paint drips. This step can be quite challenging when painting. In the event that you do end up with a few imperfections, you can always sand them before applying the next layer.

Take the time to carefully read the instructions provided with the primer you have selected. The specific primer we used dried to the touch within a span of 30 minutes to 1 hour, which significantly contributed to the overall duration of this project.

white latex enamel painted on top of primer on backsplash tile

Is it necessary for the primer to appear aesthetically pleasing?

Do not be bothered by any unevenness or blotches resulting from the priming process. The most crucial aspect of priming is ensuring that the entire surface you are painting is fully covered. You will notice how the white color becomes more solid once you start applying the paint.

Once the primer is completely dry, you can proceed with brush painting using your chosen paint. In our case, we utilized Sherwin Williams Urethane Enamel in High Reflective White.

small foam roller painting kitchen backsplash

After applying the first coat of paint with the brush, the subsequent two coats were primarily done using a small foam roller. This technique allowed for more even distribution of the paint. Just make sure to paint the grout to your desired finish as you work.

It is important to allow sufficient drying time between each coat of paint. Depending on the initial darkness of your tiles, you may require 2-3 coats of paint. In our project, we applied 3 coats of paint.

painted white tile backsplash with painter's tape around edges and white and green painted cabinets.

Remove the painter's tape and use caulk to tidy up any areas for a clean and polished appearance.

What is the durability of painted kitchen backsplashes? After more than a year, our painted tile backsplash remains in the same condition as when we first finished it. The use of semi-gloss paint allows for easy wiping and cleaning of any splatters on the tile.

white painted backsplash tiles with green painter's tape along kitchen counter.

How can ceramic tiles be painted? The process we followed to paint our glass tile backsplash can also be used for ceramic tiles. Proper preparation, cleaning, and priming are crucial. We always recommend testing the primer to ensure it does not scrape off when dry. If it adheres, you should have no trouble painting the tile.

Is a roller the only tool needed for painting? If your grout lines are covered while rolling, you can primarily use a roller and use a brush for hard-to-reach areas that need trimming.

Can tiles be painted in colors other than white? Absolutely! You can paint your kitchen backsplash in any color that suits your style. The recommended paint can even be tinted to match your decor. This method can also be used to incorporate stencil designs and create a patterned look.

A Stunning Transformation: Before and After Painted Backsplash Makeover

Although the angle may be slightly different, the image showcases our cabinets before I began painting the lower cabinets. However, it perfectly captures the concept of this incredible, cost-effective kitchen transformation achieved solely through the power of paint!

white cabinets and glass backsplash before cheap kitchen makeover

The Enchantment of Paint

Connect with us on Pinterest, Youtube, or Facebook for a wealth of DIY inspiration!

two-toned green and white cabinets with white painted backsplash with granite counters in kitchen.

We are still amazed by the remarkable modernization our painted tile backsplash has brought to our kitchen. If you despise the appearance of your backsplash and want to avoid the hassle of removing the old tile, you should seriously consider this innovative DIY kitchen idea.

If you found this tutorial helpful, kindly rate it with 5 stars below 🤩🤩🤩🤩🤩. Your support enables us to continue providing you with more free and budget-friendly DIY projects.

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