My Backsplash SOLUTION {yep, you can paint a tile backsplash}

Last Updated on August 9, 2022

Updating your backsplash is a high impact DIY that is unbelievably quick and easy. You can paint a tile backsplash and totally transform your kitchen on a budget!

how to paint a tile backsplash

My Backsplash Solution

You all know we have been busy working on our kitchen makeover. Well, I am here to show you a bit more of the progress we have made! Are you dying to know how I decided to deal with the UNFORTUNATE backsplash in our kitchen? We PAINTED it. Yep, you can paint a tile backsplash! Read on to learn more!


We've since completely reconfigured and renovated our kitchen, so our backsplash is no longer painted.

But our painted tile backsplash held up BEAUTIFULLY while it was painted. So beautifully, in fact, that I recently painted and stenciled my friend Thea's backsplash as part of her $1,000 kitchen makeover (that will blow your mind–you can click here to see that budget-friendly kitchen makeover). You can also watch the video tutorial for how we did it below.

YouTube video


Now, back to the first time I ever painted a tile backsplash… Our tile backsplash was the kitchen element that I was most concerned about when we decided to tackle the kitchen makeover, but I knew that installing a new tile backsplash was not in our budget. It just was NOT…MY…STYLE (that’s really the understatement of the century). But you will recall that we are on a tight budget for this project. That eliminated the possibility of ripping it out and replacing it with something else. We thought about covering the tiles with stainless steel, or even stenciled wood, but the existing tiles are so thick, we could not come up with a good solution of how to finish off the visible edges if we covered them. So, I was left scratching my head. This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

Meanwhile, we were trying to decide whether to stain or paint our kitchen cabinets. I tried out several different colors of General Finishes Milk Paints, which are high-quality acrylic paints that are very durable. I got 3 different pint size cans (you can buy the pint size cans on Amazon and some woodworking store) in 3 different shades of gray. We decided to use two of them to paint our kitchen cabinets. That left me with a pint of the darkest grey color, Queenstown Grey, that I wasn’t going to use.


It occurred to me that I could PAINT the tile backsplash. WHHHHHHAAAAATTT????!!!! Yep, I said paint the tile backsplash. Granted, it was not an ideal solution for us because there is really nothing I like about our backsplash tile {I don’t like the size, shape, or texture} AND we have the added challenge of decorative accent tiles featuring some kind of pre-historic lion and latin phrases, but I digress. Painting would certainly improve the look by 500% and it would be FREE!

Here's a reminder of what the tile looked like before.

backsplash before

And for good measure, here's a close-up shot.

backsplash before paint

So, one day while my twin girls were napping, I went for it. I figured that even if we hated it, we would not have lost any money and it couldn’t possibly be worse than what was there before.

How to paint a tile backsplash

Materials needed


I started by cleaning and then priming the tiles. Typically, you don’t have to prime prior to using General Finishes Milk Paint, but I was nervous about painting the glossy tile and wanted to ensure the best adhesion possible. I used water-based Kilz primer.

priming backsplash to be painted

Next, I painted the tiles with the General Finishes Milk Paint in Queenstown Grey. It didn’t look fantastic after the first coat, so I started to get a tad worried.

painting a backsplash

Fortunately, the second coat provided phenomenal coverage and looked great. I got the entire backsplash done with one tiny pint of this paint {I was literally scraping the paint out of the can to finish—it was a close call}. Finally, I applied three coats of the General Finishes High-Performance Water Based Top Coat, flat finish, on top for added durability. I elected to use the flat finish because I did not want added sheen to draw my eye to the backsplash, but most people would probably prefer to use a satin or semi-gloss finish.

And I love how it turned out!

painted backsplash

painted backsplash

Yes, you can still see the pattern of the decorative tiles, but holy cow, I am beyond happy with how this FREE transformation turned out. The backsplash now kind of blends into the background and looks great with the granite countertops and light grey cabinets.

If I had purchased the product for this project, it still only would have cost me $30. Not bad for a “new” backsplash! As you know, I love a good side-by-side comparison, so here you go!

painted backsplash before and after

painted back splash before and after

What do you think of this thrifty transformation? Did you know that you could paint a tile backsplash? Have you done it? What other thrifty backsplash transformations have you seen?


General Finishes Milk Paint also works WONDERS on outdated kitchen cabinets. We painted our kitchen cabinets using these same products and have not had any chipping or peeling as of January 21, 2016 {almost 2 years after we finished the project}! You can learn all about how we painted our kitchen cabinets without priming OR sanding here.

The painted backsplash held up perfectly as well, but we did replace it after about 18 months. Our decision to replace it had nothing to do with the condition of the paint–it hadn't peeled or chipped AT ALL and was easy to clean. We finally replaced it because even painted we could still see the tiles and it just wasn't the look for us, but I am so glad we painted it temporarily. It was a great, low-cost solution.  You can read all about our new laminate backsplash here.

We have also stenciled a backsplash! When I was giving my friend's kitchen a makeover, we needed a solution for her terrible red tile. Instead of blowing the budget on new tile, we painted and stenciled her existing tile and it looks amazing. You can read all about how we did it here. 

updated kitchen with paint before and after

You can check out some more posts about our kitchen makeover progress before you head out, like how we painted the kitchen floor, how we moved some cabinets around and how we created a high impact herringbone plank wall. Stay tuned for the BIG kitchen reveal. It is coming soon! UPDATE: The kitchen reveal is done! Click HERE to check out all the details!

Before you head out and get started, be sure to check out my FREE design guides that will help you help you design spaces you absolutely love! Subscribe now and you will receive a password so that you can access everything in one convenient digital library.

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  1. This backsplash turned out so good! I might have to try this technique out! We are having our kitchen cabinets refinished next week so maybe once that is done! Thanks so much for sharing!

  2. We have tile counters (why did people do this?!?!). Do you think I could paint those? I want to pain the hideous backsplash but also really hate the countertop. In a few years we’ll hopefully do a full renovation so don’t want to waste the money on new stuff. Thanks!

  3. I’m confused. At the beginning of the article the “after” pictures show the backsplash being very dark. Towards the end of the article the backsplash is a cream color. What did I miss?

    1. At the end it explains we enjoyed the painted backsplash for 18 mos, but then changed it to laminate. The laminate is a cream color.
      Thanks for reading!

  4. The answer is provably in here somewhere but what kind of brushes did you use to apply primer and top coat? This is all new to me :)

  5. Hi Tasha,
    I’m blown away with your diys. I’m so in love with the colors on your walls!
    May I ask, what color do you have on your kitchen walls? I am so ready to get rid of the all the beige and cinnamon color cabinets. I also wanted to know what color on the doors?
    I’m so excited about your post. Thank you for being so kind to share.

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words Michele! All of my kitchen paint colors are listed in this post: Just scroll through and at the bottom is my source list. Hope this helps!

  6. Will it work on laminate cabinets? And please be sure of it and does it come in semi gloss? Im gonna do my moms cabinets. ..Thank you?

    1. Hi Tammy! The link to how I painted my cabinets is here:
      Also, I have never tried it, but this is what General Finishes’ website says about its milk paint: “General Finishes milk paints will adhere to a variety of surfaces including wood, fiberglass, PVC, vinyl, and most composite materials. Additionally, these paints can be applied over existing finishes, stains and other paints so long as the existing finish is fully dry. However, when painting over other finishes, it’s important to always test a small area first to make sure the paint adheres well to the original surface.”  I hope that helps!

  7. Great work! You kitchen looks awesome. I wanna repaint mine too. Can I do the something to my glass and stone glossy tile backsplash? I really don’t like the color combination and wanna repaint it to solid color.
    Thank you for your help.

  8. I love your splashback!! It looks fantastic! I really want to paint mine. My partner is hesitant to paint as he says we’ll have issues when spot cleaning or wiping down the whole surface. Do you have any problems when cleaning yours?

  9. This is amazing! Do you think the same process would work on a glass tile backsplash? Mine is the turquoise color and I want to change it to a dark brown. Thanks!

    1. Probably, but it may be a good idea to give the glass a slightly sanding or use a deglosser. Good luck!

  10. Hi there,

    In my bathroom cabinet, it has glossy, bathroom tile around the sink, above the cabinets I want t refinish. Do you think or know if this technique would work?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  11. Hi Tasha, Your kitchen makeover is awesome! What color are your granite countertops? Thank you for your blog it has really made me feel confident about painting my cabinets.

    1. Thank you Charlene! I don’t know the name of our granite because it was installed by prior owners, but it’s black with green undertones. I hope that helps!

  12. Hi Tasha, we had a glass black splash put in, which we like. However, we are not thrilled with some of the the decorative tiles that run throughout. They are also glass–some have a matte finish, some not. We just want to paint over some of the decorative tiles. Would you suggest we follow your method and/or make any alterations ?


    1. I have not tried it on glass tile, but there is no reason it shouldn’t work. Just keep the paint off the grout. Good luck! Hope it goes well.

  13. How have the tile back splash and cabinets held up? I have similar cabinets and was worried about painting all those slats but your before and after have given me hope. I was going to try chalk paint and then a friend sent me your page and I’m sold but for hearing about the hold up of paint in high traffic kitchen areas.

    1. Hi Kathy! We have replaced the back splash, but not because the paint wasn’t holding up well–it was holding up perfectly 1 year after we painted it. It was just time for a more drastic change :) The cabinets are holding up perfectly as well! I will actually be posting a specific post about how they are holding up, complete with a video, hopefull later this week!

  14. Do you think this would work on 4×4 tile countertop? It would obviously be more heavily used than a backsplash…whats your opinion?

  15. Thanks for sharing this I love the General Finishes Gel Stain but hadn’t tried their paints and your backsplash came out beautifully! This is a little off topic, but I see in your after photos you used the bar style handles for your hardware. How did you decide the size of the bars?? I can’t seem to get any guidance on how to judge that and I have a smaller kitchen so it could be very obvious if it goes wrong.

    1. Hi Jae! I really just eye-balled how large I wanted the hardware to be. We just measured them out. I knew I wanted them to be large, but there was no magic formula.

  16. Hi, I read through the comments and the product description but I couldn’t discern whether the primer would work on glossy glass tiles….any thoughts? Love the makeover!

  17. Thank you for this! My husband and I looking into doing this with our yellow tile backsplash. Can’t wait to do it now!

  18. I’m going to try painting my tumbled marble backsplash have you any thoughts on that. I love how your kitchen backsplash turned out.

    1. Thank you, Carol! I would think that the General Finishes milk paint will adhere to it. Here is what General Finishes says about its milk paint: “General Finishes milk paints will adhere to a variety of surfaces including wood, fiberglass, PVC, vinyl, and most composite materials. Additionally, these paints can be applied over existing finishes, stains and other paints so long as the existing finish is fully dry. However, when painting over other finishes, it’s important to always test a small area first to make sure the paint adheres well to the original surface.” I hope that helps!

      1. Hi Tasha, I am totally impressed with what you have done with your kitchen! its totally amazing the transformation ! My Kitchen is so outdated and it needs a totally lift without the high cost of having someone come in to put in a whole new kitchen. After seeing yours i was so impressed and going to try doing this to my kitchen to give it a total new look! I was wondering if i could send you a picture ?


  19. Just finished painting our backsplash in seagull gray. Wondering if you also used brush & roller for the topcoat?

  20. I don’t hate the “before” tiles – although they look handmade, and not in a good way – but what’s throwing me about them is the weird placement! They aren’t centered in the corners between the larger tiles and that’s just odd. Although I think your makeover is great – especially as much as you love it – I don’t think I would be able to overcome that odd layout. The paint seems like a good quality. How is it holding up?

  21. Your kitchen looks great! Im getting ready to paint our white tile backsplash in the kitchen. Home Depot told me to use Gripper primer and then any latex paint…but it looks like the general finishes milk paint you used is acrylic? I’m just want to make sure I get the right type of paint. Thanks!

    1. Hi Elle! I used Latex paint on my laundry room cabinets and they started chipping within 1 day. Total nightmare! The milk paint is a high quality acrylic and is much more durable. I hope that helps!

  22. Thanks for this and the other kitchen painting posts!! Can’t wait to get into our new house and start painting. Will redo kitchen eventually, but your tips have given me the confidence to give the current kitchen an inexpensive refresh that will make me happy till we can do a big change!

  23. Wow! Looks great! How is it wearing? Does it chip easily! That tile was horrendous! LOL! Have to wonder why people pick the finishes they do sometimes. Way to turn a lemon into lemondade! Thanks for the post!

  24. I love the painted tile backsplash. I was wondering, the gray paint looks like it changed color a lot after after putting gloss on. Is that so?

    1. Hi Shawn! The appearance of the gray changed SLIGHTLY when I added the top coat, only because the top coat added a bit of sheen, so it makes the gray look a tad darker. I hope that helps!

  25. Love this, very inspiring. I am going to use the Thanksgiving break to start doing some of this in my kitchen. I have tile countertops AND backsplash; do you think that the milk paint would work for the counters as well as it does for the backsplash with the three coats of sealer?

    Any advice appreciated!

    1. Hi Christine! The paint is SUPER durable, but I would be nervous about using it on a countertop. That said, if you plan to replace the countertop anyway, it’s worth a shot!

      1. Tasha – wanted to let you know I did the full backsplash makeover using the same color you did and I have been in love love love with it ever since! I added a gray/silver/white glass tile backsplash behind my stove. I have also done an Ardex feather-finish concrete counter for my island, and used Java gel stain on the island base. Next up – ALL countertops will be concrete; all base cabinets will be Java; and all upper cabinets will be Seagull Gray. Then the joy of stripping wallpaper and painting, replacing the flooring, and updating lighting. It never ends!

  26. Now that it’s been a few months, how are the backsplash tiles holding up? I have some ugly tiles I’d consider painting but I’m curious how it lasts over time.

    1. Hi Gayle! The tiles are holding up perfectly. I was a bit worried about the area behind the sink since it is regularly exposed to water, but we haven’t had any peeling or scratching at all!

      1. it looks beautiful!!! backs plash and cabinets!! since you have
        dwelt with this paint ect., do you think it would work on bathroom tiles in tub/shower?

        1. Hi Gina! I don’t think I would use it on tiles in a tub/shower, but there are some special products made for that. Check out the blog Petite Modern Life. I think she just painted her tub/shower with a special product meant for that and it looks FABULOUS!

  27. I just used this same paint from General Finishes to paint a cabinet I’m using in my dining room. I was nervous, as previous painting experiments had not turned out well. I had read good things about the paint so decided to go for it. Well let me say it is fantastic stuff. I used a really good Purdy nylon brush and got a very professional looking finish. I used two coats lamp black and applied candle wax where I didn’t want the paint to stick, then two coats of Tuscan Red. Lightly sanded where the wax was and Voila, the black came through. Then two coats of the water based top coat in satin finish. Everyone loves this piece, hubby couldn’t believe his eyes.
    I have been wanting to paint my very ugly kitchen backsplash and thanks to your blog it’ll be my next project using this paint. Thanks a lot for sharing. The kitchen looks fabulous!

    1. Oh Lynda! That makes me so happy to hear! Isn’t the paint amazing?! Good luck painting your kitchen backsplash. I would love to hear how it turns out!

  28. I have a very odd set up in my kitchen, the backsplash and the counter is a square (very ugly) tile, looks about the same as yours without the wondeful decorative ones. Im wondering how this paint would hold up on the tile countertops since they get a lot of use?

    1. Hi Angie! Honestly, I would be a bit worried about how it would hold up on tile counter tops. If your countertops are like mine, they take a lot of abuse and I’m not sure how well they would hold up long term. I hope that helps!

  29. I wish you could see my backsplash in the house we just bought. I would almost trade for your lions in a heartbeat. We have randomly placed pregnant pig tiles. And the former homeowners also epoxy glued 3-D ceramic pigs on several of the non-pig tiles. It is the most bizarre thing I’ve ever seen. But you have inspired me to attempt to pop off the ugly 3-D ones and paint the heck out of the rest!

  30. Wow! I’ll have to say I actually really like the tiles (Art History major), but after painting them, WOW! That is one the biggest budget transformations ever. Looks incredible!

  31. I never would have thought paint was an option! Thanks for sharing this at Cook it! Craft it! Share it! (I pinned this to the party board) I can’t wait to see what you link up this week!

  32. Love this! I am a firm believer in paint, it makes such a drastic change! For nearly nothing! I LOVE general finishes! I’m in the process of doing my kitchen cabinets with their java gel stain, it is the single best product, ever!
    So that you don’t see the lions on the tile, you might try filling it with a grout of some sort, and sanding it down, just a thought! I’ve never attempted this though, so don’t quote/blame me if it doesn’t turn out! Lol!
    I love your work! Especially love the industrial lights!

    1. Hi Terry! Thank you so much! Isn’t General Finishes AMAZING?! I am beyond impressed by the GF milk paint. I have not tried the Java Gel stain yet, but want to test it out on something :) I thought about trying to fill in the lions with different fillers and would have if this was a permanent fix, but eventually we will do a gut job on the kitchen, move some walls, etc., so I am just going to live with the lone for now. At least they blend in a bit more now.

    1. Thank you, Alexis! There is probably a word for the prehistoric lions, but I have no idea what it is :) It’s my pleasure to link up to your fantastic party! Have a great weekend :)

  33. WOW! That is amazing….never would have thought to paint a back splash but you’ve got me convinced! I love how the detail still shows through but it looks so much better painted!
    I will be featuring this at the next Frugal Crafty Home Blog Hop!

  34. Great idea to update your back-splash on a small budget. I can relate to a small budget kitchen makeover and using paint is definitely the easiest and most affordable way. Looking forward to following your blog and can’t wait for your Kitchen reveal!

  35. Holy cow Tasha, what a difference! I’m not a fan of painting backsplashes because…well they look painted. But yours, you’d never know you painted them. The color you choose is so pretty with your cabinets and granite countertops. That’s quite the kitchen transformation.

    1. Thank you so much, Marie! That is a huge compliment! The full kitchen reveal is coming soon–I hope you will come back to check it out!

  36. Hi Tasha,

    Your makeover came out great!! I love it. Do you have a secret as to how you obtained free samples from General Finishes? After seeing your story, my husband and I are inspired to redo our kitchen. We have pretty much no experience in doing such a job and not a lot of money to spend on it, so any budget friendly ideas would be greatly appreciated. Anything will be better than our ugly tile back splash right now. It looks like old bathroom tiles!

    1. Hi Donna! Thank you. General Finishes reached out to me about providing me with some samples of their products so that I would be familiar with what they offer so that I could keep them in mind as I complete my blogging projects. I hope that helps!

  37. Tasha- the before tiles were epic. It looks so much better. We have ( not as fierce) ugly tiles on our back splash. We have thought about painting them and it is great to see how well yours turned out.