Painting Tile Back Splash Do’s and Don’ts

Today we are talking about painting your backsplash.  Is it a good idea?  Is it going to hold up? Will it look ok?  So many questions and no real guarantees that it will be what you envisioned.  Well for me and the case of my kitchen I decided to give it a try and be the test run for you all.  I really don’t like our current kitchen for so many reasons.   The layout is cramped, the colors are wrong, the list goes on and on…  We will eventually get around to gutting our kitchen and actually swapping our current dining room for our new and improved kitchen.  This will be a much better flow throughout the home as well as within the kitchen.  Our current kitchen will actually then turn into our dining room.  But this is a huge project and we aren’t quite ready to take this on financially and mentally, (not to mention physically).  So, for now, I thought why not try painting the backsplash to match my current decor and color palette.  I told myself “it can’t hurt and if it is terrible it will eventually be demo dust anyway”.  So let me share with you my do’s and don’ts from someone who has ventured down this road and has answers for you.  First, let me share with you a before picture of my kitchen…

My initial reaction to this kitchen when we bought this house in Boise, was dark and cramped.  The cabinets are great quality and there is so much of them which is great for storage.  Now while I can’t do anything about the cramped problem, I did try to brighten up the kitchen a bit just by painting the backsplash.  While painting the cabinets a lighter shade would have helped the kitchen feel more open and bright, I didn’t want to spend the time and money doing this as I said this will all be demolished in the near future.  After reading so many articles and blogs about painting backsplashes, then taking a dry run painting my fireplace and bathroom tile, (read those articles here and here) I thought I was ready and prepared to take on the kitchen tile. 

The majority of my kitchen backsplash is actually a stone backsplash.  So to get started, first and foremost be sure to thoroughly clean your backsplash before beginning.  If you are painting a kitchen backsplash be sure to pay special attention to grease stains and food buildup.  In keeping with my knowledge learned from painting my stone fireplace, I stayed with the latex paint, a nappy roller and polyester paintbrush.  I painted the grout lines first along with the outline of the backsplash, letting that coat dry before I applied a second coat in the same places.  Once the second coat has dried I applied my first roller coat everywhere, getting as close to the counter and cupboards that my roller would allow.  Doing this keeps the texture uniform throughout the backsplash.  I let this coat dry and applied my second roller coat in the same manner.  I am very happy with the look I achieved.  Painting the stone backsplash a white hue (AIabaster, Sherwin Williams) made a huge improvement in the brightness department.  However, after living with this backsplash for a few months now, I can say I wish I would have applied a bonding paint primer first.  The paint would have adhered more cohesively and the durability overall would have been better.  I didn’t apply the bonding primer first before I painted my stone fireplace and bathroom backsplash (same stone backsplash) and those areas have held up great.  Something about kitchen backsplashes that take a beating and mine definitely has.  Nothing a few touch-ups cant fix.  But if I were to do it again I would definitely apply the bonding primer.

Now onto my small decorative backsplash behind the stove.  I knew this would be a whole new beast to tackle as it is a glass backsplash and not stone.  This means it is less porous which will make the paint have a harder time adhering as well as any clean up (which will be a lot as it is right behind the stove) difficult.  So the items used to accomplish this monster are as follows:

Start off by cleaning and cleaning and then scrub some more.  This area can have a lot of grease build-up.  If you don’t clean the grease off, the bonding primer will not adhere and you will see your stains more clearly after painted then you did beforehand.  Second I scuffed up the glass tile a bit with 80 grit sandpaper.  This is just an extra step to ensure good application.  Third I applied the bonding primer, and let me just say this bonding primer is the bomb!!  Thanks to my local Lowe’s paint experts I found the secret to a good paint application on difficult areas.  I applied the primer around the outline of the area first, applying two coats letting each coat dry before applying the next.

After the outline has dried I applied the first overall coat with a polyester paintbrush.  Letting the first coat dry then appling the second coat and letting the area dry for two hours before applying my latex paint.  I applied my latex paint in the same manner as the primer.  I let this dry for two more hours before I felt the area was totally dry.

It has been a huge improvement in our kitchen and really brightened up the space I spend a lot of time in.  While not my dream kitchen I am very happy with the cheap and quick upgrade.  That’s the best part, the cost was minimal as you don’t need much paint for such a small project.  Small project+minimal cost=huge improvement!!  If you find yourself in the same conundrum and need a quick and fast upgrade/refresh I am fully in support of painting your backsplash.  So if you have a couple of hours to spare give it a try and I know you will love the outcome as much as I do.

I hope this article helps and if you have any questions please feel free to reach out and comment.  I have done this trial and error so let me help you to not make the same mistakes.  Even better if you have done this before and have a good before and after please share as my all-time favorite is a good before and after.

Have a terrific Tuesday!!




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