How I Painted my Tile Backsplash

We are quickly approaching our three year anniversary in this house.  And for three years, I have hated our kitchen backsplash.  The tile isn't inherently bad, and both our realtor and my husband *loved* the backsplash, but it's just not me.  

I'm always preaching to my readers and my clients to not keep the pieces that are stealing your energy every time you look at them.  Yet here I was with Tuscan backsplash full of muddy earth tones!  I needed a fix.  A new backsplash wouldn't be terribly expensive, but we have three bathrooms that need to be remodeled and a basement to finish, so throwing cash at the kitchen really isn't an option right now.

Here is what I was dealing with and looking at every day.  Again, not awful on its own, just not for me.

See, not exactly the colors I am going for with my house.

I removed all the switchplates, taped the border with painter's tape, and got started.
Here's what I used.
-a stain blocking, sticks to all surfaces primer
-a flat enamel top coat

The primer stinks, and I would not recommend doing this in the winter because you really need proper ventilation when using oil-based paint.  But this stuff sticks like glue to the tile and metal trim piece, and is just all around awesome.  The enamel finish on the top coat is like a hard shell to the flat paint and highly washable.  YAY! I had to use a 2" Purdy paint brush, because there were so many grout lines and different depths of tile, that a roller just wouldn't have worked here.    

The whole project took maybe two hours.  I did one coat of primer and two top coats.  Done.  The I called my husband at work to warn him that I "added value" to our house while he was at work.  Best to not totally shock the spouse before his arrival.

It is so much lighter and brighter.  I feel like I have a whole new kitchen for about $30. 

The upside?  I don't despise our kitchen as much as I did.  It's still far from my dream kitchen, but sometimes you have to work with what you have.  Now I'm really ready to replace the basic faucet and add a roman shade over the window.  Am I right?!

The downside is that the white highlights all the imperfections.  Whoever installed the backsplash didn't make it level, and you really notice that now that it's white.  But I can deal with it.

Overall, with such an open floorplan, I'm very glad I took the plunge and didn't wait another day to paint our backsplash.  Now it fits with all my clean and fresh colors.

What do you think?  Is this a fix you would try in your kitchen?

In other news, I'm a guest over at Design Post Interiors.  Check out my favorite change to our house I've ever made.  Then stay and visit for a while with Beth!

Whether you're near or far, I would love to work with you to create a home you love.  Email me at abbyminteriors@gmail.com for more information on my local & e-design services.


  1. Absolutely love the update Abby! Your right, it totally changes to look and feel of the kitchen and looks much better:) Kinda scary painting tile…no going back but glad you followed your gut!

  2. Wow!!!! What a difference a little paint makes. It looks great and totally changes the look. Great job as usual.

  3. I agree! Do not waist energy on things that drag you down! Your back splash looks sooo much better, but you already knew that. Great job Abby!

  4. Kudos to you for having the nerve to do it while he was at work...these type of "surprise updates" make my husband very nervous :) It was worth it though- looks great!!

  5. It does look better. And yes, I would have done it in a heartbeat. It's only paint, right?
    It must pain you to help your clients build the new kitchen of their dreams & then have a kitchen that you don't love. At least your cabinet doors are the shaker style. I would love those for my own kitchen.

  6. What a great change, Abby! Love how it works with the rest of the house

  7. Huge change! I think it was a brave move but one you'll be happy with for a long time :)

  8. Great job! It looks amazing. I also did this with our kitchen, to cover the floral tiles. I also painted ours white and I can't tell you how happy I am that I went for it. After about a year with it, I can tell you that it's so easy to keep clean and scrub!!

  9. I think that it loos perfect and is the perfect budget friendly solution! Bravo for taking the chance! I think you kitchen is great for now... and yes some romans and a nice new faucet will make it feel like a new kitchen!

  10. I'm so glad you did this! I have a friend with a kitchen similar to yours and I've been trying to convince her to switch out the backsplash as she wants to brighten the space. Now I'll show her all she has to do is paint it. Wahoo.

  11. BRILLIANT!!!
    What an elegant (and earth-friendly!) solution. It looks great. Keeping in mind that most of us readers never (ever) post a comment, it sounds like it's unanimous: Five stars!

    And I think that those installation 'imperfections' of the stone (slate?) tiles look pretty cool. Bet it looks different with different kinds of lighting. I'm sure you've given new hope to lots of people 'stuck' with this same setup!

    Also taking this opportunity to mention that I LOVE the proportions & colors of your pale sky blue/creamy white striping = Perfection. Makes me wish my little house had some decent size walls. Bet this'll inspire a lot of people to get some paint to freshen up their homes for Spring. Can you tell us what paint colors you used?

  12. the paint really does brighten your kitchen tremendously! I once painted the old gross tile of my apartment bathroom and it turned out great (not sure what my landlord thought!)

  13. Fantastic fix Abbeyand so bright! Yes on the roman shade in something fun and colorful! I have an old challenging kitchen- id love to gut it but can't right now so the game is on... Have a great weekend. xo Nancy

  14. You go girl...putting lipstick on that pig. She looks so much better now:)

  15. wow! it looks awesome! do you think it would be durable enough for a bathroom tile counter? I have one I'd like to change. ;-) or inside a shower? the shower i have in mind is rarely used as a shower, mostly baths.

  16. Thinking about doing this in our guest bathroom, but it would be a MUCH larger job since ALL the walls are 2/3rds 60's oatmeal speckled tile. How is it holding up? Would recommend this method for such a large area?

  17. We are thinking about doing this exact same thing. I think I'd like to "lift" the earthy tones however - perhaps with some transparency in the paint - for a white/transparent effect. Any advice on thinning the paint, using a different paint, or going about this idea another way?

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Abby Manchesky Interiors is a boutique design firm based in Grand Rapids, MI. Combining the new traditional, vintage and a dash of the unexpected is her ideal. Contact Abby Manchesky Interiors for more information on available interior design services for clients near and far. abbyminteriors@gmail.com | 616.719.9400


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