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How To Paint A Tile Backsplash In Your Kitchen (With Video)

Do you want to get an updated looking kitchen backsplash without tearing your old one out? This is one of our favorite DIY kitchen projects. You will love how you can makeover your tile by just painting.

How To Paint A Tile Backsplash In Your Kitchen (With Video)

Can you paint glass tiles?

Yes, you can! To be fair, we tried to update our kitchen without replacing and painting everything first by adding this backsplash. I honestly cannot believe how easy and quick it was to paint the glass tile. I wish I would have done it years ago.

When we first moved into our house we knew that the kitchen needed some updating (you can see what our kitchen cabinets looked like before painting). Over time, we painted the oak cabinets white, added a glass backsplash and new counters. However, the glass mosaic backsplash of yesteryear (like 8 years ago) was totally dating our kitchen and never really matched.

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

Now 8 years later we have jumped on the two-toned kitchen cabinet trend and wanted a completely fresh look with the backsplash. As you can see we were working on painting the lower cabinets and doors (this link is our detailed door painting process) at the same time.

*Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are our own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. Read our full privacy policy.

First, is painting tile a good idea?

While we have not painted tile floors or tubs, we think painting your tile backsplash is a great way to modernize your kitchen. Mainly, your backsplash really doesn’t get touched and beat up like other tiles in your home. You also can have a modern look without going through the hassle of completely tearing out tile.

And for us, we knew that if this didn’t work we needed to update the tile. So it was totally a risk we were willing to take. Honestly, we were shocked at how well our tile painting project turned out. 

“What do you have to lose? Just paint it and you might be surprised.” -A DIY Motto from The DIY Nuts

Why did I choose to paint the tile white?

White paint gave the tile a more cohesive subway tile feel. I wish our counters had a little more bright white in them. However, I didn’t want to go with a warmer white and have that conflict with the upper cabinets, white moldings, and doors we already have.

The good news is that I can easily change the color if I want. We have some amazing real-life examples of white kitchens if you need help comparing white cabinet paints for your kitchen.

How long did it take to paint the tile backsplash?

This was a very easy and quick DIY home project. The only thing that took the most time was the dry time. We have around 20 square feet of tile and this tile painting process was easily accomplished in two days. 

The most time-consuming part is the prep. Each layer of primer or paint was done in 30-40 minutes.

What supplies should you use to paint tile?

We researched a lot of different ways to paint tile. And first, everyone said that the prep is the most important part. Any time you are painting you want a clean surface. Don’t skimp on this. We used dawn dish soap, extra-fine sandpaper and Krud Kutter. I felt that our tile backsplash was completely clean and ready.

Some DIY painters recommended using an electric sander and something called TSP. My tiles were not that greasy so I thought my prep process was the simplest and easiest.

As far as the paint, once we found a primer (more on this later) that we thought would work we simply used a 2.5” angled brush and small foam roller to apply our favorite latex enamel paint from Sherwin Williams. 

Simplified printable instructions are at the bottom of this post.

small foam paint rollers from Home Depot
Here are the small foam rollers we have used on many different paint projects.

What primer should I use to paint glass tile?

So this part actually took me the most time due to places not having the primer I wanted. My first choice is to always just go to Sherwin Williams and have them tell me what I need. Paint stores are normally pretty knowledgeable. Just go in and talk to them about your project.

I will say at any place it does always matter who you get, so I am sure that this is only my personal experience. 

Due to the paint shortage through the supply chain or Sherwin Williams, they did not have the bonding primer I wanted to use. They recommended Stix and I went to order it on Amazon. However, even then that shipment was delayed…

And I really wanted to start this tile painting project!

Behr primer used to paint tile backsplash

Off to Home Depot I went. I found this primer that was meant for glossy surfaces in kitchens and bathrooms. I figured for the price, I would just buy it and try it in a small area. In the video in this post, you can see how I test the area by rubbing the tile to make sure the primer truly was sticking before doing the whole backsplash.

What paint do you use to paint glass tile?

After painting our kitchen island with Sherwin Williams Urethane Trim Enamel, I knew this was the paint I wanted to use. You will not be disappointed in this self-leveling paint. I bought a gallon of white because I figured I will repaint our upper cabinets whenever I get a spare moment.

Emerald Urethane Enamel Paint used to paint glass tile

Decide on the finish of your paint

Other things to consider are the finish you want your tiles to be.

  • Semi-gloss was the perfect choice for us because it gives the tile a little glossy look. We also like semi-gloss for the trim and cabinets as well. I would probably only use semi-gloss or gloss for cleaning reasons.
  • By using semi-gloss or gloss paint we have been able to easily clean or wipe our backsplash. And yes, we have had a few bacon splatters!
  • You may want to note that a few readers have told us that they wished they went with gloss paint for a little more contrast to their cabinets. It is a personal preference on what look you prefer. The only con to using gloss paint would be that it will show imperfections a little more than semi-gloss paint.

Pin For Later!

paint that tile backsplash with before and after picture

Other Considerations

  • Use an epoxy kits meant for tile. However, they are smelly, and who really touches a kitchen backsplash compared to other areas in your home? We figured since this isn’t a bathroom floor or something we could try a simpler method.
  • If using a kit, you will also have to compare the different white colors. Remembering not all white paints are considered equal. By buying a gallon of the High Reflective White (not tinted) from Sherwin Williams I knew I could use that paint to make everything match if I want to in the future.

Do you paint over grout lines?

First, use a brush to cover all the grout lines. Then use a small roller to create a smooth look. By using one color and painting the grout lines you are able to get a clean look.

Tile Backsplash Painting Process

Supplies

*Note our paint was not tinted and it comes in a color called High Reflective White. If you are trying to decide between colors you may want to check out Samplize where you can get larger peel and stick samples of your favorite colors. 

buy paint samples now

You can read how we used Samplize to help pick our bottom cabinet color here.

Steps for painting tile backsplash

See the video in this post as well.

1. Clean tile with dawn dish soap and sponge. You want to make sure that you are cutting the grease and grim. Really make sure you have cleaned while around your stove as that is where it tends to be a little dirty and greasier (hello bacon at our house).

sponge preping tile to be painted

2. Wipe dry.

3. Use extra-fine sandpaper to scuff up the tile. I did not do a ton of this, just enough.

220 sandpaper used on mosaic glass tiles

4. Wipe areas you don’t want to be painted like the counters and window frames. Add painter’s tape to the areas. Press your fingernail in the seam in between the counters and the tile. You may need to caulk this area after you paint.

DIY PAINT TIP!!! Use Press N’ Seal Wrap to help protect things you don’t want to be painted. We did this painting of our oak railing when using two different colors.

faucet wrapped in Cling Wrap to help with paint prep of tile

It was great for the faucet in this case. If you wrap it loose enough, you will still be able to use the faucet as well!

5. Wipe down tiles with a deglosser.

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

6. Use a brush with the primer to cover all the grout. Work in small areas. If your tile is larger you may use a roller after the brush in the grout lines. Since our glass tile is so small, I only used a brush for the primer. This might have left a slight texture, but I liked that idea instead of completely flat-looking tiles.

tile backsplash being painted white

7. Make sure that you are lightly brushing away drips. This is probably the trickiest part of the painting. If you do end up with a few bumps, you can always sand them before the next coat.

glass tile getting painted white in kitchen remodel

8. Read the instructions on the primer you chose. This primer was dry to the touch within 30 minutes to 1 hour. It really was, so this helped with the overall length of time this project took.

Once the primer is dry, you can repeat the brush painting with your paint. We used Sherwin Williams Urethane Enamel in this color.

white latex enamel painted on top of primer on backsplash tile

Does the primer have to look nice?

Don’t let the splotchy priming job worry you. The most important part about priming anything is that you have completely covered the surface you are painting. You can see how the white color is much more solid once you start using paint.

9. After the first coat of paint with the brush, the next two were done mainly using the small foam roller. This allowed for more even coverage. Just make sure that your grout is completely painted to your liking as working.

small foam roller painting kitchen backsplash

10. Allow proper dry time between each coat of paint. You may need 2-3 coats of paint depending on how dark your tiles were to begin with. We used 3 coats of paint.

11. Remove painter’s tape and caulk any areas for a clean look.

white painted tile

Do you need more DIY painting project inspiration?

Check how we use accent walls to transform our small spaces or even how our bathroom vanity looks completely brand new with just a little paint.

Follow us on Pinterest, Youtube or Facebook for more DIY inspiration!

Before and After Backsplash Makeover

Yes, I know the angle is a little different and this is what our cabinets looked like before I also started painting the lower cabinets. But you can totally get the idea of the amazing budget-friendly kitchen makeover using ONLY paint!

white cabinets and glass backsplash before cheap kitchen makeover

And then paint magic!

white upper cabinets with green lower and white painted backsplash

Follow us on Pinterest, Youtube or Facebook for more DIY inspiration!

Yield: DIY Backsplash Idea

Painting A Tile Backsplash

glass tile getting painted white in kitchen remodel

Learn how to paint tile for this cheap kitchen remodel idea. Easily redo your glass backsplash tile with this easy painting home improvement project.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Active Time 3 hours
Additional Time 1 day
Total Time 1 day 3 hours 30 minutes
Difficulty Medium
Estimated Cost under $50

Materials

Instructions

  1. Clean tile with dawn dish soap.
  2. Wipe dry.
  3. Use extra-fine sandpaper to scuff up the tile.
  4. Wipe away dust.
  5. Tape out areas you don't want painted and cover counters with cardboard, drop cloth, or butcher paper.
  6. Optional: Use Press and Seal to protect the faucet handle.
  7. Wipe down tiles with deglosser.
  8. Use a paintbrush to paint grout lines and a small foam roller with primer. Make sure to wipe away any drips that are occurring when painting before it dries.
  9. Let dry (read instructions on dry time).
  10. Repeat with Urethane Trim Enamel paint in the color of your choice.
  11. Paint at least 2 coats with proper dry time in between.
  12. Remove painter's tape and clean up any areas.

Notes

Read through the whole blog post and watch the video for more specific and detailed instructions.

Did you make this DIY project?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

We absolutely can’t get over how much our painted tile backsplash has modernized our kitchen.

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David Cleanton

Sunday 17th of July 2022

Nice Blog. Thanks, You for Sharing Such Information.

Stefane Johnston

Monday 28th of March 2022

I just updated my tiny house kitchen with new laminate and painted the backsplash using this method and paint. I used Stix because I’ve used it before. I used Whitetail from Sherwin Williams for the paint for a warmer tone. Turned out great!

Erin

Tuesday 29th of March 2022

Hi Stefane. I am so glad that your kitchen backsplash project turned out so well. Thank you so much for taking the time to share with our readers about your awesome painted tile project.

Universal Stone

Wednesday 23rd of March 2022

Thanks so much for sharing! I love how your backsplash turned out!!

Universal Stone

Erin

Thursday 24th of March 2022

Thanks. If painting our backsplash didn't work out, we were totally going to have to replace it. Glad it did because it saved us a lot of money and time.

Renea skelton

Tuesday 22nd of March 2022

Although this a very informative and I know what to use I have a question about the ceramic tile....do I need to paint it with the primer then I will be able to paint sunflowers on it?? I read somewhere tho that u can't go over the paint cuz it will streak. Am I able to use the Sherwin Williams paint and paint sunflowers?? Thanks u so much -Renea

Erin

Wednesday 23rd of March 2022

Hi Renea. This is a really great craft question. Since I have not tried painting decorative tiles on a white ceramic tile I do not have examples. However, this might be a good DIY crafty tile project for me to try. I would think you could prime the tiles using a small foam roller or even spray primer and they use quality acrylic paint to make your sunflowers. If the paint is streaky and you want a solid-looking color then you would paint sunflowers with another coat once the first layer dries. However, you could also use the streaking to your advantage and create a more textured look. I would then consider sealing your painted tiles with a clear spray or even mod podge.

You now have my wheels spinning and may try this tile craft project in the future. Let me know how it works out.

Kaitie

Tuesday 15th of February 2022

How are they holding up? Going to paint my glass backsplash this weekend and curious if you would do anything differently? Also any thoughts on a water based poly acrylic top coat to seal?

Erin

Wednesday 16th of February 2022

Hi Katie. My painted tiles still look awesome and we have had a few kitchen splatters that we were easily able to clean. If you use high-quality paint I wouldn't think you would need a topcoat. However, I do think it wouldn't hurt anything, so adding it is probably fine. Let me know if you end up using a topcoat and any tips for my readers.

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