Do you want to get an updated 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.
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.
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.
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 because 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 need to replace the tile anyway. 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.
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.
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.
What primer should I use to paint glass tile?
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!
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.
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!
- 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.
- 220 Sandpaper
- Dawn Dish soap and green sponge
- Small foam roller and handle
- 2.5 angled brush (Wooster or Purdy are our favorites)
- Small paint trays *We have used these all the time for our painting projects
- Primer or Stix Bonding Primer
- Sherwin Williams Urethane Latex Enamel in the color of your choice
- Painter’s Tape-Only use this type, especially when needing to protect your countertop.
- Cardboard, butcher’s paper, or something to protect your counters
- Paintable caulk (*optional: we haven’t done this yet)
*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.
You can read how we used Samplize to help pick our bottom cabinet color here.
Tile Backsplash Painting Tutorial
See the video in this post as well.
Step 1: Clean Tiles
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).
Step 2: Let Dry
Step 3: Lightly Scuff Surface
Use extra-fine sandpaper to scuff up the tile. I did not do a ton of this, just enough.
Step 4: Prep Areas With Painter’s Tape
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.
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!
Step 5: Use A Deglosser
Wipe down tiles with a deglosser.
Step 6: Apply Primer
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.
Step 7: Check For Drips
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.
Step 8: Let Primer Dry
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.
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.
Step 9: Start Painting
Once the primer is dry, you can repeat the brush painting with your paint. We used Sherwin Williams Urethane Enamel in High Reflective White.
Use Brush and Small Foam Roller
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.
Step 10: Allow Each Layer Of Paint To Dry
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.
Step 11: Remove Tape
Remove painter’s tape and caulk any areas for a clean look.
It has been over a year and our painted tile backsplash looks the same as it did when we finished it. Because we used semi-gloss paint, you can easily wipe and clean any messes that splatter on the tile.
You can follow the same steps we used to paint our glass tile backsplash. The most important part is the prep, cleaning and priming. We always recommend testing the primer first to make sure that it does not scrape off with your fingernail once dry. If it sticks, you should be able to easily paint your tile.
If your grout lines get covered by rolling, you can get away with mainly using one and then just trimming hard-to-reach areas with a brush.
Yes, you can paint your kitchen backsplash any color to fit your style. The paint we recommend using can be tinted to match your decor. You can even use this method to add a stencil design to create a patterned look.
Before and After Painted 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!
And then paint magic!
We absolutely can’t get over how much our painted tile backsplash has modernized our kitchen.
- Clean tile with dawn dish soap.
- Wipe dry.
- Use extra-fine sandpaper to scuff up the tile.
- Wipe away dust.
- Tape out areas you don't want painted and cover counters with cardboard, drop cloth, or butcher paper.
- Optional: Use Press and Seal to protect the faucet handle.
- Wipe down tiles with deglosser.
- 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.
- Let dry (read instructions on dry time).
- Repeat with Urethane Trim Enamel paint in the color of your choice.
- Paint at least 2 coats with proper dry time in between.
- Remove painter's tape and clean up any areas.
Read through the whole blog post and watch the video for more specific and detailed instructions.
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Fandeli 36027 220 Grit Multipurpose Sandpaper Sheets, 9" x 11", 25-Sheet
Purdy 144152125 Clearcut Series Glide Angular Trim Paint Brush, 2-1/2 inch
BEHR 1 Gal. White Acrylic Interior Kitchen, Bath, and Trim Stain-Blocking Primer and Sealer-07501...
4 in. x 3/8 in. High-Density Foam Mini Paint Roller (5-Pack)
KRUD KUTTER GO32 Gloss-Off Prepaint Surface Preparation, 32-Ounce