Kitchen backsplashes not only protect your walls from spills and splatters, but they also provide an opportunity to add visual interest to your kitchen. Many homeowners opt for expensive tile or stone backsplashes, but painting a backsplash is an affordable and approachable DIY option. With some planning and preparation, you can give your backsplash and kitchen a fresh new look with a simple coat of paint.

Choosing Paint for Your Kitchen Backsplash

When selecting paint for a backsplash, it’s important to consider the unique conditions that the surface will need to withstand. Kitchen backsplashes endure high traffic, moisture, grease, and the potential for staining from cooking splatters.

Durability Is Key

Due to the demands of a kitchen environment, the paint you choose needs to be durable and scrubbable. A high-quality enamel, epoxy, or acrylic paint formulated for kitchen and bath areas will provide the most protection. Stay away from flat, eggshell, or satin finishes, as they are more prone to staining and struggling with moisture over time. A semi-gloss or high-gloss sheen is best.

Moisture-Resistance Is Crucial

Since the backsplash lives right behind a sink and stove, moisture-resistance is a must. Look for paints labeled as “kitchen & bath” or “high-humidity” resistant, as they contain mildew-resistant additives. Epoxy paints also boast incredible moisture resistance.

Grease Resistance Prevents Stains

For protection against grease splatters from cooking, pick a paint labeled as “grease-resistant” or “stain-resistant.” Epoxy paints naturally repel grease well. Adding a coat of polyurethane over the top can also seal in grease resistance.

Easy Cleaning Is Ideal

To make cleanup of minor splatters and stains a breeze, choose a paint with scrubbable and washable properties. A harder paint finish allows you to scrub the surface clean without damaging the paint.

Prep Work for Painting a Backsplash

Proper prep work ensures your painted backsplash will turn out smooth and last. Follow these tips before painting:

Clean the Surface

Give your existing tile or laminate backsplash a thorough cleaning with an all-purpose cleaner or grease-cutting dish soap. This removes built-up grime and grease so the paint can properly adhere. Rinse and let dry fully.

Sand Glossy Surfaces

If you have a glossy ceramic tile backsplash, lightly sand the surface with 220-grit sandpaper. This roughs up the slick surface so the paint can grip better. Wipe away sanding dust.

Use Painter’s Tape

Tape off the edges along the countertops, ceiling, and floor with painter’s tape. This keeps the paint neat and off adjoining surfaces. Remove tape immediately after painting before the paint dries.

Apply Primer

Priming ensures better paint adhesion and coverage. Use an all-purpose primer suited for kitchen surfaces. Allow primer to dry fully before painting.

Fill Grout Lines As Desired

If you want to hide existing grout lines between tiles, apply painter’s caulk to fill the recessed lines. Smooth with a wet finger, let dry, then sand any bumps smooth. This creates a smoother painted surface.

How to Paint a Backsplash

Once prepped, it’s time to paint. Follow these steps for a flawless finish:

Choose Paint Supplies

Use high-quality mini paint rollers and angled brushes intended for painting cabinets and trim. Disposable paint trays and liners simplify cleanup.

Apply First Coat

Dip your roller or brush in the paint tray then roll or brush evenly across the surface. Work top to bottom and maintain a wet edge. Let the first coat dry fully.

Sand Lightly Between Coats

Gently sand the first coat with 220 grit sandpaper to remove any drips or roughness. Wipe away sanding dust with a tack cloth. This ensures an even finish.

Add Second Coat

Apply the second finishing coat in the same fashion, working methodically to ensure even coverage. Two coats provide excellent coverage and durability.

Remove Tape

Once painted, carefully remove painter’s tape at edges before the paint dries fully. Touch up any spots as needed.

Allow Cure Time

Let the paint cure fully for several days before use, as it will be slightly softer until completely cured. Avoid scrubbing or placing anything on the surface during this time.

Ideas for Painted Backsplash Designs

A fresh coat of paint allows you to customize your backsplash design. Here are some creative ideas:

Solid Color

Choose a rich, deep hue for an eye-catching solid color backsplash. Try dark blue or green for a more modern look.

Faux Finish

Make ceramic tile look like natural materials with special faux finish paints and techniques. Recreate stone, wood grain, marble, and more.

Contrasting Trim

Paint just the grout lines between tiles in a contrasting color to add striking definition. Black grout lines on a white tile backsplash look bold.

Geometric Shapes

Use painter’s tape to block off geometric shapes like triangles, rectangles, diamonds or circles. Paint each section in alternating colors.

Moroccan Tile Look

Alternating colored rectangles mimics the look of pricey, ornate Moroccan tiles. Use painter’s tape to create borders.

Faux Subway Tile

Paint perpendicular lines across your backsplash and add thickness with painter’s caulk to imitate classic white subway tiles on a budget.

Neutral Tones

Softer neutral hues like grays, taupes, and cream will give your kitchen a tranquil vibe. Pair with white trim for a cottage feel.

Vintage Tile

Try painting your backsplash in retro mint green, sunshine yellow, or robin’s egg blue for a cute vintage tile appearance.

Maintenance and Care for a Painted Backsplash

A painted backsplash requires some occasional maintenance to look its best. Here are some simple care tips:

Day-to-Day Cleaning

Use warm water, mild dish soap, and a soft sponge or cloth to gently wipe down the backsplash after cooking. Avoid harsh scrubbing.

periodic Heavy Cleaning

Once a month, give the backsplash a good deep cleaning using a grease-fighting degreaser or baking soda paste. Rinse thoroughly.

Touch Up Paint as Needed

If you notice any chips or damage, do a quick touch up with the original paint. Keep extra paint stored for easy fixes.

Reseal Every Few Years

Periodically applying a fresh coat of polyurethane sealant will maintain the backsplash’s grease and moisture resistance.

Avoid Abrasive Cleaners

Steer clear of abrasive scrubbing pads or powders, as they can damage the paint finish over time. Stick to soft sponges and cloths.

Wipe Spills Quickly

Promptly wiping any food spills, grease splatters, or water splashes prevents stains and buildup on the painted surface.

Painting a Backsplash FAQs

If you’re considering a DIY backsplash paint project, here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

Does Painting a Backsplash Make It Easier to Clean?

Yes, a properly prepared and painted backsplash provides a smooth, continuous surface that simplifies wiping up splatters and spills. Grout lines notorious for trapping gunk are also hidden.

Can I Paint Over Existing Tile or Laminate?

Painting over existing tile, ceramic, laminate, or other water-resistant backsplash materials is totally fine, as long as proper prep work is done. The key is good surface cleaning, sanding, and priming.

How Long Does a Painted Backsplash Last?

With proper prep and the right quality paint, a painted backsplash can last 3-5 years or more. Factors like surface prep, paint selection, and household cooking habits impact longevity. Touch ups and fresh sealant coats extend its life.

What Kind of Paint Finish Works Best?

For backsplashes, a semi-gloss or high-gloss finish is best since they offer good stain and moisture resistance and allow for easy cleaning. Pearl, satin or matte finishes can show stains and don’t clean as easily.

Is Painting a Backsplash a Good DIY for Beginners?

Painting a backsplash is a very approachable DIY project even for beginners, as long as proper steps are followed. Good preparation is key, along with high quality kitchen paint and supplies. Patience, attention to detail, and handy masking tape make the painting process straightforward.

Transform Your Kitchen With a Painted Backsplash

Painting your outdated or drab backsplash is an easy and budget-friendly way to revive your kitchen’s look. With some clever colors or designs, you can create a customized backsplash that suits your unique style. Just be sure to properly prep the surface, choose a durable kitchen paint, and care for it after installation. In no time, you’ll have a stunning new focal point that makes your whole kitchen look fresh.


A painted backsplash offers an inexpensive alternative to traditional tile that can provide a pop of color, texture, or faux finishes with just a few coats of paint. With proper surface preparation, a high quality paint suited for kitchens, and routine maintenance, a painted backsplash can hold up for years and provide a completely customized look. Approachable even for novice DIYers, this simple upgrade can transform the entire feel of a kitchen.