How to Paint Your Tile Backsplash in 6 Easy Steps

Give your space a fresh, new look

Katie Smith
Written by Katie Smith
Reviewed by Robert Tschudi
Updated July 26, 2022
A kitchen in newly constructed home
Photo: hikesterson / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images


You've got this!

Time to complete

3 hours



You’ll wonder why everyone doesn’t do this themselves.

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What you'll need:


  • Putty knife
  • Roller
  • Small angled paintbrush for cutting edges
  • Paint tray
  • Sanding machine or 100-grit sandpaper


  • Commercial cleaner
  • Sponge
  • Paintable caulk
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Mask and gloves
  • Painters tape
  • Polyurethane (oil-based or water-based)

Many things can be transformed with paint—from your bathroom cabinets to your bedroom walls. But you might not have considered that you can also update your kitchen by painting your tile backsplash. 

“Many house flippers we work with know that giving a fresh surface to an existing backsplash is well worth the investment,” says Bob Tschudi, Angi Expert Review Board member and general contractor in Raleigh, NC. “Potential buyers want to feel like they can just move in and start living, and this kitchen modernization is a great way to do that.”

With a few tools and a fraction of the time, you can paint your way to a whole new look. But before you get started, follow these tips to make sure your project goes as smoothly as possible.

Prepping to Paint Your Tile Backsplash 

Before you get overwhelmed with all the beautiful colors to choose from, keep in mind you need to use epoxy paint to paint over your existing backsplash. 

Epoxy paint is made to stick to tile and is long-lasting. And while it’s great for painting over tiled backsplashes in your bathroom, kitchen, or even around your fireplace, it won’t hold up in the shower.

6 Steps to Paint Your Tile Backsplash

Repainting old kitchen ceramic tile back wall
Photo: Helin Loik-Tomson / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images
  1. Clean Your Backsplash

    Just like you have to prep kitchen walls before painting, your existing backsplash needs prep work before you can start too. Even if it doesn’t look dirty, grime and residue can build up, so you’ll want to clean it with a commercial cleaner and damp sponge. Wipe it down afterward with a dry, microfiber cloth.

  2. Check for Chips or Cracks in Your Tile

    Chips and cracks need to be repaired or your new paint job will show them off. You can easily repair them using some caulk. 

    • Inspect your tile and grout.

    • Simply fill crack or chips using a putty knife and caulk. 

    • Scrape away excess caulking and let dry completely.

    “When you are using water-based caulk, remember that water is your best friend,” says Tschudi. “After applying the caulk, wet a paper towel or a sponge with water, squeeze it out, then carefully smooth over the caulk. You’ll be surprised by how this step makes the repair look smooth and professional.”

  3. Sand the Surface

    Once your tiles are dry, sand down your entire surface. Tiles have a glossy glaze that makes it hard for paint to stick to. You can use a hand-sanding machine for this or 100-grit sandpaper and do it manually. 

    Make sure you aren’t too hard on your tile to prevent breaking or cracking. Going over your existing tile lightly to rough it up a bit will do.

  4. Wipe the Surface Again

    Now that you are done sanding, give it another wipe to remove the dust and debris, and let your surface dry completely.

  5. Tape and Prime

    Tape off any edges you want to protect, such as walls or cabinets and prime your tiles. Primer is essential in hiding old color. Make sure you get in the cracks and cover the grout as well. A small hand roller is a great tool to use if you are repainting your tile all one color. 

    If you aren't painting every tile, a paintbrush will work best. Be sure to apply two coats if necessary as this will make your paint adhere better and hide any unwanted color. Let the primer dry completely before you begin painting.

  6. Paint Your Tiles

    Now for the fun part—this is when you’ll see the transformation you’ve been waiting for. With a clean roller and paintbrush, begin painting your tiles with epoxy paint. Make sure to use even pressure while painting to prevent any drips or uneven lines. 

    Giving your tile two coats of paint is the best way to make your new paint job as durable as possible. Let paint dry for 24 to 48 hours. For extra durability, apply a coat of polyurethane after the paint is completely dry and make sure it doesn’t get wet for 24 hours.

DIY Painting Tile vs. Hiring a Pro

While you can save money by painting your tile backsplash yourself, it may not turn out as professional as you’d like. Whether or not you hire a professional interior painter depends on how much time you have for DIY projects and your comfort level with home improvement projects. 

Across the country, the average professional painter charges $3.30 per square foot, although prices can range from $2 to $6 per square foot. To get the most accurate quote to paint your backsplash, make sure you have your square footage ready for your contractor. 

The average cost to complete this project on your own (plus a few hours) is about $80, depending on what kind of paint you choose. However, if you already have some of these supplies and tools, or you can borrow some from a neighbor, you’ll save even more. 

Additional Questions

What kind of paint do you use for a backsplash?

Your paint choice will be determined by the look you want. Go with a flat paint if you are looking for more of a stone look. If you want more of a glass finish, go with gloss or high gloss paint.

Can you paint ceramic floor tiles?

You can transform existing tile floors with acrylic or two-part epoxy paint. If your floor is properly sanded and primed first, paint will stick to floor tiles.

Can you paint a faux tile backsplash?

Using a stencil, you can paint a faux tile backsplash. The design and contrasting colors will give you the look of tile.

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