Painting Tiled Kitchen Backsplash – A Complete How To Guide

If you’ve ever thought about painting tiled kitchen backsplash, this is the post for you!   I finally said enough of the brown tile that just didn’t fit my style and painted it!  And I’m so glad I did!  Follow along to see what I used and how I did it.  And if you’re considering it, this is one of those projects that I wish I had done years ago.  It makes such a difference and you can get it done in a few days.

This is a relatively easy DIY project that you can complete in a few days – mainly to account for proper drying times.  I’ve found that oil-based paints take a bit longer to dry than others and you want to give yourself plenty of time.  But, it has a big impact for very little money so it’s definitely worth it. 

Painting Tiled Kitchen Backsplash

We bought our house in 2013.  Everything was pretty much picked out but we got to choose a few things.  We were able to pick the color of the backsplash and the countertops.  Here’s a before shot from before we moved in (sorry for the terrible quality).

painting tile backsplash before pic

It’s good.  The cabinets are beautiful and so is the granite.  But I never liked the backsplash.  It just didn’t go.   Fast forward almost four years.  I did a lot of Pinterest and google searching and came to the conclusion that I could change them.  We don’t have the budget right now to rip it out and add the dreamy subway tile that I want, so the next best thing (and easier on my wallet) is painting.

tile backsplash before pic
tile backsplash before pic

Painting Tile

This post contains affiliate links (see my full disclosure here)


  • TSP for cleaning
  • Kilz Oil Based Primer
  • Oil Based Enamel PaintWe used Sherwin Williams All Surface Enamel Oil Based Gloss Paint – The color is Panda White
  • Old Rags
  • Mop Bucket
  • Newspaper or Trashbags (for covering the counters)
  • Paint Brushes specifically for oil-based paints
  • Small Paint Rollers (I used 4-inch foam rollers)
  • Painter’s Tape


First, remove all the outlet covers and store them safely so you can find them.

Then, you need to clean, clean, clean.  I used TSP powder that you mix with water.  Wear gloves and follow the directions on the box.  I used our mop bucket to mix and old rags to clean.  Clean the surfaces like your life depends on it because you want the paint to adhere.  Especially behind cooktops (grease tends to collect here and paint does not adhere to grease).  

I went over the area behind our cooktop two times.    Let it dry completely.   After you clean, tape off all the areas you don’t want paint on.  Lay newspaper or trash bags on the rest of the counters to avoid splatter.  Trust me on this.  I didn’t lay newspaper at first and now I have little paint flecks on the backsides of my cooktop.

Another optional step is to use a liquid deglosser after you clean.  This will help to make your tile more likely to hold the paint.  


I would not recommend painting ceramic tile without priming first.  I read a bajillion (not a word) tutorials, and nearly every single one says to prime.  Kilz oil-based primer is my standard go-to.  Make sure the kids are at school and you can open a few windows/doors.  

Luckily we had one of those Georgia January days when it’s 70 degrees, so I lucked out.  It’s still pretty rough though.  Oil-based paint is smelly stuff.  Let the primer dry completely before moving on.  It takes several hours.

primer painting ceramic tile


One coat of primer


I bought oil-based paint in Panda White from Sherwin Williams (I chose this color because all of our trim is already this color).    The problem is, I tend to stick with their Pro Classic paint, but I only needed a quart.  The Pro Classic only comes in high gloss in a quart.  Didn’t want high gloss.  So the next best thing was this:

enamel paint for tile backsplash

I followed the directions on the can and didn’t let my impatience get the best of me.  It’s tricky to paint with oil-based gloss. It takes forever to dry and you don’t have a lot of leeway.  You can’t go over the same area more than a few times.

painting tile backsplash
painting tile backsplash

I taped off all the areas that didn’t need paint, worked in sections and brushed the top and bottom with paint and used a small roller for the rest.  Work in sections because once it gets tacky, you don’t want to touch your brush or roller to that area again.  If you have a large area I wouldn’t cut in all the tops/bottoms with a brush and then roll.

painting tile backsplash

Then I waited a full day to do the second coat.  Do the same process of working in sections by cutting in and then rolling.  There are a few places that aren’t perfect, but probably I’m the only one that notices.

Painting kitchen backsplash tile
painted tile kitchen backsplash

However, it’s a huge change for very little money.  I already had the primer on hand and spent $18 on the paint during the 30% off sale at Sherwin Williams.  I didn’t use a sealer on this paint and it’s worked out perfectly.

Just jump in and do it if you’re considering it.  Sometimes our budget doesn’t allow for major changes and that’s ok.  It took me a full five minutes to actually put the paintbrush to the tile, but once I started, I knew it would be fine.  It makes a dramatic difference in the look of our kitchen!

painting kitchen tile backsplash

Get ready cabinets, you’re next.

UPDATE!  Cabinets are painted now!!  Check out how I did it for $100!  Click here!

And you can check out the one year update of the tile paint and see how it’s holding up! Click here

Don’t forget to pin it for later:

Painting tile backsplash - how to update your kitchen backsplash for cheap. #createandfind #paintingtile #kitchens #diyprojects

More Budget Friendly DIY Projects:

Build Your Own Swing Set

Build A Baby/Dog Gate

Building a Farmhouse Table

16 thoughts on “Painting Tiled Kitchen Backsplash – A Complete How To Guide”

  1. Right now, the backsplash behind our stove/oven is just drywall. At some point, we are looking to do something different. This idea would be great if we found some inexpensive tile and painted it however we wanted. Thanks for sharing at the #HomeMattersParty 🙂

    Life With Lorelai

  2. domesticdeadline

    Looks great! I always wondered how this would turn out. But, I didn’t have a tiled backsplash before so I never did. #HomeMattersParty

  3. I don’t have a tiled backsplash yet either mainly because I don’t want to choose something I might hate in 5 years. I have never thought about painting tile though. Your project came out great! Congrats on the new look. #HomeMattersParty

  4. Looks amazing! I really want to try mine. However, mine look more glossy than yours and I’m not sure the paint would stick. Any ideas or suggestions?

  5. Looks awesome! When I was at home depot looking for the stuff to do this they told me to sand the backsplash first. Would you recommend that?/why didnt you chose to sand

    1. Thanks Morgan! I didn’t sand first. I used TSP cleaner and then an oil based primer and it worked perfectly. My tile wasn’t glossy though to start with. It almost had a rough texture to begin with so I wasn’t too worried about the paint adhering properly. What kind of tile are you starting with?

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