kitchen backsplash update.

if you have been following the blog over the past couple of weeks, you know that i am in the process of updating our kitchen. no big remodel, just paint!

a few weeks ago, i started by painting the walls a light blue-ish grey – moonshine by benjamin moore – but the actual paint i used was the new valspar allergy & asthma, which i also used for the living room, that i had lowe’s colormatch for me.

then, i sanded, primed, & painted the kitchen cabinets as seen in this post.

next step: painting the backsplash tile.

we had this really lovely backsplash tile that was forest green & pink tulips. while it matched the pink laminate countertops really well, there was no room for flowers in our kitchen update & it had to go! i knew it would be really expensive to rip out the old tile & replace it with new (& tiling isn’t something i am quite ready to learn how to do yet), so i was going to try my hand at painting it. i figured, worst case, we would have crazy-looking tiles for a while until we saved up our pennies to re-tile. it seemed worth the risk.

i started googling (aaron, pretend i said binging) a phrase like “how to paint kitchen tiles” & i found this tutorial on painting backsplash tile. perfect i tell you, like it was meant to be!

i pretty much followed her tutorial, including cleaning supplies & paint supplies. in the end, i needed many, many, many more coats of paint than the original tutorial called for, but that was likely because i was trying to make such dark tiles a very light color (read: white). honestly, this was a big project & took many hours & lots of patience, but it was SO worth it!


after my order from came in (where i ordered the surface conditioner, enamel paint, enamel paint dilutant, gloss finish, & foam roller), i gave myself a little pep-talk & went for it.


{deep clean of the tiles}



{this is what i was working with. it is crazy to see these pictures after seeing the tile after the painting process!}

after a good clean, i started with the surface conditioner. i used a small craftbrush & coated the tiles with the surface conditioner. then i let it dry.


after the quick drying process on the surface conditioner, i got ready to start with the first coat of white paint. i put a glob of paint into an old GladWare container & then added drops of the dilutant until it was the consistency of Elmer’s Glue. {sidenote: the first few coats i diluted down to a glue consistency, but on the later coats i kept the paint a bit thicker.} then i started painting. i used the same small craftbrush so i would have more control on the edges. i painted in small sections, & found that painting the grout first & then going back & painting the tiles made the process a lot easier. once i started the second, third, etc. coats, i didn’t focus on the grout & just painted the tiles.


after one coat of paint, i noticed a lot of the paint on the edges wasn’t sticking. boo. i briefly considered re-cleaning the tiles & then adding another coat of surface conditioner, but then i remembered the bonding primer that i used to prime the kitchen cabinets. when i bought it, the gal told me it would basically prime to anything. sure enough when i went to the basement to check the label, it listed ceramic tile as one of the bonding surfaces.


so i went off-tutorial & painted a (thick) coat of bonding primer. after the primer was dry (i waited at least 12 hours between coats for the entire project), i started in – again – with the enamel paint.





after about the second coat of enamel paint, i knew that i would need many more coats than the three that the tutorial suggested. so, i kept painting. & painting. & painting.







aaron & i figured out pretty quickly that i was never going to be 100% satisfied with the whiteness of our tiles regardless of the number of coats i painted. the tiles that had tulips were still showing an outline of the tulips, but the dark green color was slowly starting to fade. i finally had to call it after seven coats. yep, seven. i still had almost a full bottle of white enamel paint left (i had already used three) but wanted to make sure i had some paint around for touch-ups in the future.


as per the tutorial instructions, after my seventh – & final! – coat, i quickly went over my freshly-painted tiles with the foam roller in order to smooth out the brushstrokes.


after the paint was dry, i let it dry almost a full 24 hours, i put on two coats of gloss glaze, allowing for drying time in-between coats.



after the glaze was dry, aaron & i used a small razor to cut away the old caulking from between the tile & the countertop. this was mostly in preparation for my next step: updating the laminate.





it is easy to be picky about the tiles not being perfect (i.e., look like brand new white tiles), but for $30 in supplies we have a new backsplash & i couldn’t be happier. the change from the forest green & flowers to the bright white made such a huge difference in our kitchen. really, it was an amazing transformation.

the downside: it highlighted our very pink laminate countertop. boo. one of our friends commented that we had a nice colorblocking going on with the grey cabinets, pink countertop, & white backsplash & upper cabinets, but we weren’t really diggin’ it.

up next, an update to the countertop!

have you ever considered painting a backsplash?


13 thoughts on “kitchen backsplash update.

  1. That looks amazing! I was too chicken to paint the tiled countertops in this house… slash the cabinets themselves boxed in the kitchen and those had to go, too, so I scrapped it all. Next time I will attempt it! I think it turned out beautifully!

  2. Pingback: the big kitchen reveal. | emerald city diaries

  3. Pingback: a year in review {house diys}. | emerald city diaries

  4. Pingback: {happy two years!} | emerald city diaries

  5. Thanks for posting! I’m wondering, do you think it would work with another color besides white or would it look too weird with the grout getting painted too?

    • Melissa – I think anything in the lighter end of the grey family could work, or really any lighter color. I have seen people who have just painted the tiles and left the grout unpainted; this seems more tedious but could work well if the tiles were bigger. Thanks for reading and stopping by! M

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s