Can You Paint Ceramic Tile Backsplash?

It’s time to update the kitchen, but you want to do so on a budget. A splash of paint can do wonders, so you consider if you can paint the ceramic tile backsplash.

You can paint the ceramic tile backsplash using epoxy or paints specially formulated for use on tiles. This kind of durable and washable paint is made for adhering to tiles.

Painting all or sections of your kitchen tile backsplash is an easy and effective way of giving your kitchen a new look. Read on for more detail about how to paint ceramic tile.

Painting vs Replacing Ceramic Tile 

While painting can be messy, it is much easier to do and more cost-effective than replacing ceramic tile. Painting floor tiles in a bathroom or on the floor are not generally recommended due to the wear and tear of water and foot traffic. If you are wondering what you can paint ceramic tile with, the answer is easy – epoxy paint, or paint labeled for use with ceramics.

However, kitchen backsplashes or subway tiles, fireplaces, and other areas that use ceramic tiles as a decorative focal point are easy to update. Replacing ceramic tiles will require special tools, potentially a professional installer, and will cost a lot more than painting.

How To Paint Ceramic Tile Backsplash

Thankfully painting ceramic tile requires only a few tools and materials to get the job done. Epoxy or paint that is formulated to work on ceramic tiles should be used. Make sure you follow the safety label and regulations for ensuring the paint fumes do not cause you harm while using them. 

Generally, it is recommended that you wear a mask and gloves and work in a well-ventilated area. You will want to dispose of or clean up paintbrushes and leftover paint per local laws. You will also want to plan on working on this project for two or three days to allow for proper drying times.

Gather the following supplies before you start painting:

  • Degreaser cleaner
  • Sponge/Cloth
  • Putty knife
  • Tile caulk
  • 100-grit sandpaper
  • Primer paint for use on ceramics
  • Paintbrushes – in multiple sizes for your preference
  • Paint roller
  • Epoxy paint – your choice of color(s)
  • Mask
  • Gloves
  • Protective area tarps or newspaper

1. Clean the tile using a degreaser

It is likely that grease, soap scum, and other debris have splashed onto the tile over time. To get it properly painted, the tile must be completely clean and dry. Use a sponge and the degreaser or a mild soap solution to remove the buildup. Then, you should wipe the tiles clean with clear and fresh water until no degreaser or soap remains.

2. Make repairs for any chips or cracks in the tile

Once dry, you can then repair the tile if necessary. Years of use can show wear and tear on tiles, so make sure to look each one over carefully before painting. You can use tile caulk to fill in areas using a putty knife to get a smooth surface for painting. Again, wait until the caulk is dry before the next step.

3. Sand the tile with a light touch

Tile typically has a layer of glaze on it, which makes its surface shiny and slippery. Use 100-grit sandpaper in a circular motion with light and conservative pressure to remove this glaze so that paint can adhere to the tile. When finished sanding the entire surface, you must eliminate all of the dust. Use a damp cloth to wipe it away or rinse it with clean water.

4. Apply primer to get the tile ready for paint

If you haven’t already done so, protect your countertops and other areas that are near the tile with tarps or newspaper to avoid getting paint where you do not want it.

If you are painting mosaic-style ceramics or have a textured tile backsplash, It is best to apply primer with a small paintbrush instead of a roller to work in small areas. Hand painting will also allow you to get into any corners where tile meets more tile. Use a roller brush for larger areas.

Primer is a necessary step. The original color of the tiles will be covered completely by primer so that you have a fresh slate to work on. It will also help the new color(s) to stick to the tile better and appear even on the surface. You may need more than one coat of primer to make the unwanted color(s) or design “disappear”.

5. Use epoxy paint for the final color

The use of epoxy paint will make the tiles washable and durable. Again, use a roller brush and paintbrushes to apply the chosen color(s) of epoxy paint to the ceramic tile and the grout. Allow the paint to dry for one or two days. 

If you desire a shiny look, you can then add a clear coat of polyurethane. Don’t forget to use this in a well-ventilated area and to wear a mask and gloves.

Types of Paint To Use On a Ceramic Tile Backsplash

When you paint a ceramic tile backsplash with any kind of paint, you should still degrease, clean, and sand the tile for the best results. Oil-based will be more durable and resistant to chipping than latex. 

Consider some of the following brands for your DIY project. We recommend that you try a small area first to see if you like the final look.

Rust-Oleum Stone Creations Spray

This unique product by Rust-Oleum offers a spray application for indoor use on ceramic tile.  This textured formula comes in eight different colors to create a natural stone appearance. It dries in less than an hour, making this option a great choice! You may still wish to apply a clear coat after using this product to enhance durability and washability.

Rainbow: THE ONE Paint & Primer

If you are looking to do the job all at once, you can try this paint.  This product is primer, color, and gloss in one application. There are 25 color options that can be used on multiple surfaces on interior and exterior surfaces. Since it is so multipurpose you could color coordinate other surfaces with your tile. Another benefit is that this product is non-toxic, has low odor, and is water-based, making it a safer option while using.

Rust-Oleum Chalked Ultra Matte Paint

Chalk paint is gaining popularity for its use in areas such as those with ceramic tile. This kind of paint will create a shabby-chic look or work well as a base coat. Rust-Oleum offers over ten pastel colors. You should coat the matte chalk paint with a protective seal. Consider buying Rust-Oleum’s protective topcoat or their aged or smoked glazes for a unique look.


What happens if I use regular paint on the tiles?

Moisture, grease, and other contaminants can cause the paint to wear away, look uneven, or peel off in pieces. This will only create more work and cost more money to keep it looking fresh and new over time. Save time and money by using tile-approved paints on ceramics.

Can you paint shower tiles?

Older homes may have old tiles that are pink, green, or lavender-colored tiles reminiscent of the popular color schemes of the 1900s in the bathrooms. It may be time to update the color scheme, especially if you are looking to sell your home.

You can paint shower tiles using the above-mentioned steps. However, it may not last as long due to the high moisture exposure in the shower area. 

It would be best to reserve tile painting for the tile that is on the walls outside of the shower and out of direct contact with constant streams of water. Tiled areas such as those behind the toilet or as the backsplash of the bathroom sink are better suited for painting.

Final Takeaways 

You can easily change the color of a tile backsplash with a little time and effort by using epoxy paints. By cleaning the old tile, repairing any cracks with caulk, using fine sandpaper to remove the clear coat, and applying a primer, you can make your ceramic any color you desire. 

Painting a ceramic tile backsplash will not only save you money as compared to replacing it completely, but you will also have a fresh updated look in a central area of your home.

Recent Posts