How to Paint a Tile Backsplash!

How to paint over tile (click through for tutorial) If you’ve ever done a home renovation before, then you know how quickly the costs can add up. You think, “I’ll just paint this wall,” but then the new wall makes the trim look dingy, and the new trim makes the floor look worn, and the new floors should really have new rugs, and on and on it goes. The first thing we did when we moved into our new house was paint the dark wood cabinets (learn to paint yours here).

Once they were a nice, bright white, it really made the dull brown backsplash look faded, and I realized it could definitely use a makeover of its own. Since we have about a million things on our to-do list, adding another expensive tiling job didn’t seem possible. So when I was lamenting to Elsie about the problem, she totally solved the issue by responding, “Just paint it!” Oh yeah, I forgot that was an option! I had painted a tile laundry room floor at our last house when I didn’t have the money to retile it and I loved how it turned out. Painting it is!

How to paint over tile (click through for tutorial) How to paint over tile (click through for tutorial) Supplies:
-silicon epoxy paint (I got a quart of the Clean Green shade)
-etching primer
-etching cleaner
-leveling thinner
-respirator, goggles, rubber gloves
-1/4″ nap paint rollers and brushes (natural hair brush suggested for primer)
-drop cloth plastic and painter’s tape
-paint accelerator/hardener (optional)

NOTE: I’m explaining everything that I did to paint my tile, but for a more detailed list of instructions from the manufacturer, you can read more in this article (right click to download).

How to paint over tile (click through for tutorial) First, cover any surfaces you want to protect with a drop cloth and then use a medium grade sandpaper to lightly sand the tile to remove any loose grout or buildup. Then, take your etching cleaner and carefully paint the tiles with a thin layer of cleaner (wear gloves, goggles, a respirator, and long sleeves for this part). Use a scrubbing pad to scrub the cleaner into the tile for about 10 minutes. The directions say to rinse the area with water when the time is up, but since it’s a little hard to do that on this vertical surface, I just wiped it down with some really wet paper towels instead. Let the tile completely dry before moving on to the next step (I gave it at least 24 hours to dry).

You’ll notice that I put a respirator in the supply list. You really want to get one of those on a job like this. The fumes are pretty overwhelming with these products and one of those little painting masks just won’t do. Believe me…I learned that lesson about halfway through.

How to paint over tile (click through for tutorial) Once your tile is dry, you can proceed to paint your tile with the primer. You’ll want to use a brush for the edges (they suggest a natural hair brush for the primer) and then a 1/4″ nap roller to roll on the tile. The biggest thing to keep in mind with this paint (both the primer and the top coat) is that you need to work quickly and don’t go back to areas you already painted once they start to dry. The paint gets really tacky pretty quickly, so if it’s already started to dry and you go over it again with your roller, you risk peeling up areas of that paint. I felt like I had a 3-5 minute window on the paint once it was rolled on where I could resmooth something or fix a drip without issue, but after that time frame, it was a little risky to go back over it. So, trim a small section with a brush, use the roller to cover the area in between, and then move on to another small section, etc. until the whole area is covered.

I would suggest adding a little thinner to the primer as well so it rolls on a little more smoothly (a 1 to 10 ratio of thinner to paint is good). You really want your paint coats for the primer and topcoat to be as thin as possible, so keep that in mind as you’re painting as well.

How to paint over tile (click through for tutorial) Once your primer is totally dry, mix your topcoat color with some thinner (the thinner to paint ratio should be 1 to 10) and optional paint hardener (3oz hardener per quart of paint or 8oz per gallon). The paint hardener will make the paint dry faster, but it also makes the paint harder and more durable once it’s dry. You only have about 30 minutes of painting time with the hardener though, so if you think it will take you longer than that to paint, just mix the paint and hardener together in smaller batches as you need it.

How to paint over tile (click through for tutorial) Use a small trim brush to trim the color and another 1/4″ nap roller to roll the color on. Same rules apply about working quickly and not going back over dry paint! Once the first coat is dry, add a second topcoat and your transformation is complete!

How to paint over tile (click through for tutorial) How to paint over tile (click through for tutorial) How to paint over tile (click through for tutorial) I love how clean and fresh the kitchen feels now with the new bright color. The pop of green adds a lot to the otherwise neutral space, and I like that the paint has this nice high gloss sheen to it which makes the tile look more expensive as well. I’m so happy with how it turned out and also with all the money I saved by painting instead of replacing it. Now I have more funds to put towards all the other things on my renovation list…I guess I’d better get started on those! xo. Laura


Credits // Author and Photography: Laura Gummerman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

  • I would have never thought to paint tile. The finished look is great. I also love the gold/bronze hardware you chose. I can’t wait to see more of you home transformation.

  • That looks great Laura. I hope you give us a tour of your house… before pics too!! 🙂

  • C’est avec beaucoup de plaisir que j’ai lu votre article.Merci de l’avoir publié.
    Merci pour toutes ces infos, voici une bonne lecture. J’ai appris différentes choses en vous lisant, merci à vous. Bonne journée à tout le monde !

  • C’est avec beaucoup de plaisir que j’ai lu votre article.Merci de l’avoir publié.
    Merci pour toutes ces infos, voici une bonne lecture. J’ai appris différentes choses en vous lisant, merci à vous. Bonne journée à tout le monde !

  • Laura!! This is amazing. I never knew this was an option…what a difference! The hardware and painted cabinets are sooooo gorgeous too!!

  • Would love to see the before and after on the cabinets. We moved into a 70’s funk palace and having trouble convincing hub to paint the wood. The cabinets are quality but pretty dank. Love this fresh transformation and color combo.

  • it looks amazing!! it really pops against the white cabinets & black counter tops!!! your kitchen looks so bright & inviting!!! xo

  • Wow! I am so impressed! What a transformation! This is one of the best DIYs I have seen on ABM and I love love love the color you chose. Good job Laura!

  • This is so genius! Thanks for walking us through all the steps! I love that this is a temporary solution that actually looks amazing. 🙂

  • Wow–it looks amazing! We are house hunting right now and I kind of want to find a house where I can do that 😉

  • The tile in my bathroom is already painted. I want to freshen it up (it’s kind of an off-white and I want more of a true white). Any extra steps you think I need to take to paint over already painted tile?

    Your kitchen looks great!

  • This is a brilliant idea! It looks like a professional job too. But you know what I’m mostly curious about? Your CAMO TOP!! I totally want to know where I could try to find it, if you’d like to share of course! 🙂

  • This is brilliant – I had no idea these products existed! Since you’ve lived with the finished product, how do you think it would hold up in a bathroom? I have some pretty gnarly bathroom accent tile that this seems like the perfect solution for…!

  • That is so pretty! I love that color. I am in the process of redoing our bathroom it all looks so nice and bright but now our white ceramic floor tile is looking kind of meh. The thought crossed my mind to paint it…you said you painted a floor at your old house,did you use the same type of process as in this post or did you do anything drastically different?

  • That looks amazing! I want to give my kitchen a make over. The tiles are fine but it’s a blue/yellow kitchen, the blue is fine, it’s a very dark blue, but the yellow has to go. I bet it will look so much better once I painted the cabinets.

  • Love this! My sis-in-law did this with her kitchen backsplash. I was worried that it would chip too much, but she said she just goes around a couple of times a year and touches up the paint! Not too bad!


  • Thanks for sharing! This is brilliant and turned out so beautiful! I love your bright style, can’t wait to see more of your new house.

  • When you guys do something like that I want to do the same myself.Great choice of color and a beautiful job. Enjoy!

  • WOW! Looks great!
    I have a question for you, hope you can help. I have shiny beige tile in my bathroom, but I really want it to be white. Is there anyway to paint it? It is bathroom so it is always high humidity though

  • It looks gorgeous! And this post could not come at a better time! My hubby and I just moved into our first house a few weeks ago, and we’ve been wanting to paint our kitchen backsplash… but we were nervous it would look weird to have color on both the tile AND grout – but you’ve just showed me it looks awesome! Looks like we’ll be taking the plunge. Thanks so much for the great tutorial!

  • Hmm, if it’s already painted I’m not sure if you would need to strip the paint off first or if you can sand and prime right over it. I would call the customer service at the site where I bought the paint and see what they recommend since it can vary from paint to paint!

    Good luck!

    Laura 🙂

  • No, I did a floor paint on that job (I think it was from the home depot) but I did have to do a lot of the same steps like cleaning, priming, and painting. Give it a try!

    Laura 🙂

  • I believe you can use this product in bathrooms too, just check with the manufacturer of the paint (or call the site help number where I bought the paint) to be sure 🙂


  • This looks brilliant! I’ve been uhmming & ahhing about taking the plunge & relaying my badly laid splashback tiles, as I think even if I painted over them the uneveness of them would continue to bother me. Would you do a tutorial by blog or vlog on tiling?


  • Wow! This is really inspiring, I have to tell you, I have THE MOST hideous tile floor and as much as I want to tear it all up and start over, the cost of doing so is beyond what I could extend. I’m wondering if this would potentially be an alternative solution? What are your thoughts on this…or have you heard of any other ideas on refinishing tile on flooring?

  • I wanted to like this, after all the effort and hard work, but I’m just not a fan. I think painting over all the grout lines makes it look like a piece of plastic. If the grout lines showed (thus confirming it’s tile) I’d be giving it the respect it deserves.

    But I’m happy you like it. Your opinion is the only one that matters.

  • I actually have a question? I saw a watercolor method which made me think of buying white 12×12 floor tiles and painting them like water color washes and using them for my kitchen backsplash. ////does this sound feasible? What type of paint should I use and how would I protect the paint so it could be wiped down. Hopefully you can help me.

  • Are those panted tiles washable? In the kitchen, when you cook every day, there is a lot of greece, and it all goes to tiles. Can the epoxy paint take scratching!

  • Do you think this would work well in a wetter situation like a tub/shower/bathroom tile? Has yours lasted well?

  • This looks AMAZING! I am totally inspired to give this a try in my kitchen here in Paradise, CA. This summer I am working on a little kitchen makeover. With this backsplash update and some cabinet painting hopefully my kitchen can look as good as yours! Thanks for all the tips!

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