Architectural Home Designs & Decorating Ideas

Update Your Kitchen Backsplash Affordably with Washable Paint

Gabriela Connell
4 minute read

If your kitchen backsplash is looking tired and dated, a fresh coat of paint can instantly update the look without breaking the bank. Paint provides an affordable and beginner-friendly alternative to replacing tile or other existing materials. The key is choosing the right washable paint to stand up to moisture, splatters, and scrubbing in the busy backsplash zone.

With some simple preparation and application tips, you can transform your backsplash with long-lasting, scrubbable painted finishes. Read on to explore your options for backsplash paint, proper prep work, application tools and techniques, and maintenance to keep your makeover looking like new.

Paint Options for Kitchen Backsplash

When selecting a paint for your backsplash, look for interior products specifically formulated for kitchens and bathrooms. These will have more resistance to moisture, grease, and frequent cleaning. Acrylic and latex-based paints are top choices as they dry quickly, clean up easily with water, and provide good adhesion.

washable paint for kitchen backsplash

Consider sheens like satin, semi-gloss, or eggshell which offer enough shine to resist staining while hiding minor scuffs. Flat or matte finishes don’t hold up well to scrubbing. High-gloss provides maximum stain protection but may show imperfections in application.

Acrylic and Latex Paints

Water-based acrylic and latex paints are ideal for backsplash surfaces. Acrylic paints use acrylic polymer as the binder while latex uses a rubber-like latex polymer. Both provide similar benefits like:

For kitchen backsplashes, satin or semi-gloss finishes resist moisture, splatters, and scrubbing. Avoid flat sheens as they are hard to clean. Eggshell provides a smooth, velvety look that camouflages imperfections.

Finish Options

Paint sheen or gloss is determined by the ratio of binder to flattening agents. Sheens range from matte (or flat) with no shine to high-gloss with a polished, reflective surface:

Semi-gloss or satin offer the best compromise for backsplash durability and easy cleaning. Matte finishes don’t hold up to repeated scrubbing. High-gloss shows any imperfections in application.


Priming ensures paint adheres tightly to surfaces. For best results, use a bonding primer formulated for glossy surfaces like tile and laminates. These chemically etch the surface for superior paint grip. Alternatively, opt for an etching solution if you don’t want to repaint the entire surface.

Preparing the Surface

Proper prep before painting is crucial for success. Thoroughly clean and degloss the backsplash area prior to priming. Repair any damaged areas or imperfections in the surface. Your paint job will only look as good as the substrate underneath.

Cleaning and Repairs

Start by cleaning the backsplash vigorously with a degreasing agent like TSP. This removes oils, soap film, and grime so paint can adhere. Next, sand any glossy areas with fine grit sandpaper to scratch the surface for paint grip. Fill holes, cracks, or damaged spots using spackle or patch compound. Sand smooth when dry.

Remove Existing Materials

Previously painted surfaces just need sanded and cleaned. For existing tile, use a heat gun or chemical stripper to remove old grout. Then apply an etching solution so the paint bonds. Replacing tile entirely with peel-and-stick options creates an ideal surface for painting.

Application Process

Use high-quality applicator tools for the most professional results. Load a roller with paint to quickly cover large backsplash areas. Then finesse edges and corners with angled sash brushes. Work methodically in sections for an even coat in 2-3 layers.


Gather these supplies to tackle your backsplash painting:

Rollers allow you to quickly cover large areas. Sash brushes finesse hard-to-reach nooks. Protect surrounding areas from drips with tarps, tape, and careful edging.

Painting Steps

Use this process for a smooth painted finish:

  1. Cut in edges with angled brush and steady hand.
  2. Roll paint in approximately 3×3 foot sections.
  3. Apply 2-3 thin coats for best coverage and durability.
  4. Allow 4-6 hours between coats for proper drying.

Slowly edging corners and borders prevents drips. Thin coats prevent running. Allow proper drying between applications.

Drying and Curing

Know the difference between dry time and full cure time. At around 77°F with 50% humidity, latex paint becomes touch dry in 1-2 hours. But it takes 2-4 weeks to fully cure or harden. Avoid cleaning, replacing decor, and heavy use during this longer curing period.

Maintaining Your Painted Backsplash

A painted backsplash requires some occasional maintenance to keep it looking fresh. Allow the paint at least 2-4 weeks to cure before cleaning. Then use mild soap, soft sponges, and avoid abrasives to prevent damage.

Cleaning Tips

Harsh scrubbing or chemicals can damage the painted surface. Rinse immediately after cleaning.


Expect to spot paint every year or two as needed. Any chips or flaws in the original surface will eventually telegraph through the coating. Be prepared to sand, spot prime, and repaint these areas to keep your backsplash looking its best.

Updating your backsplash with washable acrylic or latex paint provides an affordable and beginner-friendly option vs. replacing tile or dated materials. Spend time prepping the surface thoroughly before priming and painting carefully in layers. Maintain the finish by promptly fixing anychips or flaws as they occur. Follow these tips and your freshly painted backsplash will look amazing for years to come.