How To Paint A Tile Backsplash

Freshly painted tile backsplash

I have been giving our utility room a bit of a makeover for the last couple of weeks – and boy does it need it! It hasn’t been touched in the 5 years since we moved into the house and was looking pretty tired. So, having refreshed the wall and ceiling paint, the next thing to look at was the tile backsplash. I knew that it would be a big messy and expensive job to remove the tile, so I decided to explore how to paint the tile backsplash instead.

Utility room showing tile backsplash prior to painting.
Before painting the tile backsplash.

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Can You Paint Tile?

While I have seen other people paint tile (on Pinterest and Instagram) – I have never actually seen it done in real life. I have always been a little concerned that it might look terrible close-up. However, having done a little bit of research, I found that if you use the right paint and painting techniques, painting a tile backsplash is a totally do-able and easy DIY.

How To Prepare The Backsplash for Paint

The first step in preparing to paint the tile is to first give it a thorough clean. This is to make sure that all the dirt and grease is removed – otherwise you will just be painting the grease and dirt in!

Once you’re happy that the tiles are thoroughly clean, the next step is to give them a light sand, so that your paint has a rough surface to grip on to. My tiles were quite ‘rustic’ in style and already had quite a rough feel to them, so I didn’t think that sanding was necessary in this case.

Close up of tile before painting

If you do sand the surface of your tiles, don’t forget to wipe them all down again to remove the dust.

Finally, I used painters tape to tape off the areas where the tile met the worktop and also the cabinets. I am planning on re-vamping the worktops, so I wasn’t too worried about fully protecting them.

painters tape covering edges of worktop to protect it from paint.

How To Choose Paint For Your Tile Backsplash

A tile backsplash generally has to work pretty hard, so the paint I chose had to be pretty robust. There are various specialist tile paints available, however I chose to use Frenchic’s ‘Dazzle Me’ paint from their Alfresco range. This is a chalk / mineral paint that is suitable for painting on all kinds of surfaces and doesn’t require a primer. It’s also waterproof once fully dry.

Painting The Tile

I wanted to get as good a finish as possible and avoid having brushstrokes on the tile, so I chose to use a small foam roller to apply the paint to my backsplash.

A Foam roller recommended to paint tiles with.

As I had used painters tape, I was able to paint right to the edges of all the tiles with the roller, without getting paint everywhere. In a few places where the space was too small for a roller, I did have to use a brush. In these spots I tried to make sure that I only applied the paint in one direction (i.e. up and down, or side to side). I also gave it lots of light brushes to try and even out the paint across the tile as much as possible. This is how the paint looked after 1 coat:

tile backsplash having had one coat of white paint.

Don’t panic if you think it looks awful! If you have areas where brush strokes are particularly visible, you can give them a light sand before recoating. Actually though, once it had a second coat, the brush strokes largely became invisible. I didn’t worry about painting over the grout lines on my tiles – they were white anyway, but in any case you can use a grout pen to redefine them later if you want to.

This is how it looks after a second coat:

Fresh and clean tile backsplash freshly painted white.

So much better! The yellow tones have gone – which makes it fit much better with the main kitchen. I am now definitely a tile painting convert!

If painting your backsplash isn’t your thing, you can also see how I previously used peel and stick tiles to refresh the backsplash in our house.