Can you paint backsplash tile? The answer might surprise you

  • By: Sam
  • Date: February 2, 2022
  • Time to read: 6 min.

Can you paint backsplash tile?

Installing backsplash tile is a popular way to add some pizzazz to your kitchen, and many people choose to do a backsplash. But what if you don’t like the tile you see at the store? Or maybe you want something a little more unique – can you paint backsplash tile?

The answer is yes, you can! And it’s not as hard as you might think. As long as the tile surface is non-porous and smooth, you can easily paint your backsplash tiles.

In this blog post, we’ll show you how to paint your backsplash tile in a few simple steps. So if you’re looking for a new look for your kitchen, consider painting your backsplash tile. You might be surprised at how great it looks!

Why painting backsplash tiles is a good idea?

There are so many reasons to paint your backsplash tiles beyond the desire for a unique look. Many people don’t like the tile colors available in stores and much prefer their own custom color choice.

Paint will also help you avoid problems that can occur with grout, such as:

  • Kid accidents – Kids love to put any and every object in their mouths, including wet grout! This is very dangerous and can lead to choking or poisoning. Painting over the grout lines ensures your child’s safety.
  • Grout discoloration – Tile is porous and tends to absorb water, soap scum, dirt, grease, etc., which discolor grout over time. Paint these unsightly stains from view with a quick coat of paint.
  • Drainage problems – Grout is notorious for trapping dirt and debris, which can clog your drain over time. If you’re going to paint your backsplash tile anyway, a simple way to avoid this problem is by painting the grout lines too so water can flow through them more easily.

Ingredients needed to paint the backplash tiles

Here are the ingredients needed to paint a backsplash tile.

  1. Backsplash tile
  2. Roller and tray
  3. Can of spray paint (color of choice)
  4. Container and stir stick (something that will fit in the can’s opening to mix it thoroughly; a long, skinny plastic cup would work well for this purpose.)  

*Note: consider using disposable items to minimize clean-up.

How to paint backsplash tiles?

To give your kitchen a completely new look, try these steps on how to paint backsplash tiles:

Clean the tiles thoroughly

Use a strong cleaner such as trisodium phosphate (TSP) or hydrogen peroxide mixed with water according to package instructions. Allow them to dry completely before applying primer and paint.

Fill in grout lines with a grout pen

This allows the tiles to receive the paint evenly and also prevents color from seeping into seams between tiles. Work quickly before the paint dries!

Prime all of your backsplash tiles

Prime all of your backsplash tiles, including those that are behind your countertop appliances if possible. If you have trouble reaching these spots, you can do them last after painting everything else first.

Paint away

You can use either oil-based or latex paints for this project – just ensure they are compatible with your tile surface since some grout materials can be sensitive to certain types of paint.

Allow the paint to dry

Allow the paint to dry completely according to package instructions before applying a second coat if necessary. Once your tiles are painted and dry, you can resume using the area as normal!

The best type of tile for painting backsplash tiles

Some tiles are more difficult to paint than others – including natural stones such as marble and granite. These porous materials soak up lots of moisture and grout, which makes them more resistant to paint than smoother surfaces such as glazed ceramic, porcelain, or glass tile.

Smooth-surfaced tiles with a nonporous finish will work best for your backsplash painting project.

The best type of paint for painting backsplash tiles

Paint manufacturers offer a variety of paint types for wall surfaces, many of which are also suitable for backsplash tile projects.

Oil-based paints provide the best coverage and tend to be more durable over time, but they require proper ventilation during installation and until it dries completely, can emit strong odors that some people find unpleasant.

Latex paints cost less and dry faster than oil-based varieties, but they don’t cover as well or last as long.

Paint consistency is another consideration – if you want a smooth finish that isn’t too thick or thin, go with an eggshell or satin paint. Glossy finishes work well on deep colors such as red or blue so your paint color really ‘pops’.

Can you paint backsplash tile? In what cases you should not do it.

You should not pain backsplash tiles if you have a rough and porous surface. In order to paint tile or stone surfaces successfully, both the substrate and the existing finish must be completely sound.

If there are one or more of these problems, the paint will not adhere properly and the job will be ruined in short order.

So, can you paint backsplash tile? The answer is a ‘No’ in the following conditions:

  • If the tiles are porous – that is to say that they soak up water like a sponge. This includes old grout lines that have been exposed to years of steam from cooking.
  • The glaze on the tiles contains soluble salts which readily dissolve when in contact with water (or other solvents). Unfortunately, this makes them even less receptive to oil-based paints.

How long does paint stay on backsplash tiles?

The length of time that the paint lasts on backsplash tiles will depend on several factors. The most important ones are:

Who painted it?

Do-it-yourselfers, as a group, tend to be less skilled than professionals – which leads to poorer quality results. This is especially true when the job is not performed with proper safety precautions in mind (for example, by operating without proper ventilation).

What kind of material was used?

Oil-based paints are more durable than latex varieties; if you opt for an oil base, make sure they’re compatible with your tile type first! Other materials may not hold up as well. What’s more, don’t forget that even 100% silicone sealants will eventually fail if not kept in good condition.

What’s the climate like?

Extreme temperatures and humidity levels, as well as repeated exposure to sunlight (even when behind a window shade or curtain), can cause paint to fade and even peel after several years.

Location is also key: kitchens and bathrooms tend to get hotter than other rooms in the house thanks to stovetops, ovens, and constantly running showers and baths – take all of this into consideration before you start slapping paint on your tile!

What color was used?

Darker colors tend to show dirt more quickly than lighter ones – so it stands to reason that they will need touching up more often. Another fact worth noting is that heavily pigmented paints may change hue after a while, resulting in unexpected color variations.

How old is the tile?

Old tiles are more likely to develop cracks and stains over time; this means that it may not be possible to create an entirely seamless transition between them and your new paint job – which will certainly shorten the life of the latter!

If you’re painting existing tile, go for replacement instead (i.e., rip out what’s there and put in something fresh).


So, can you paint backsplash tile? Yes, you can. Just be sure to choose the best type of paint and tile. If you follow those instructions carefully, your tile painting job will last for years and beautify your kitchen.

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