Best Paint Colors

December 3, 2008

Painting A Backsplash

Use the right paint and preparation to give old tiles a makeover.

Q. My kitchen has white cabinets and the backsplash is covered in green 2” tiles. The green stands out too much, especially the white grout. Do you have any suggestions on what to do with the tiles without removing them?

A. A backsplash is often tiled instead of just painted drywall to prevent water and stain damage to the wall. Painting tile is always an option. If you decide to do this, it is important to clean the tiles thoroughly using TSP, available at any hardware store. TSP is recommended over other household cleaners because it doesn’t leave a residue when rinsed.

It is important to apply a primer to the tile before painting so that the paint will properly adhere to the tiles. Benjamin Moore’s Fresh Start Primer is a great start. Once you have applied the primer, you have several options. Epoxy paint can be applied for an extremely durable, long-lasting finish. The disadvantages to epoxy are the strong smell and its limited colour availability. Epoxy is generally used to repaint bathtubs, or where the product is actually submersed in water for periods of time. For a backsplash, where it will simply be cleaned and wiped, we recommend painting the tile with alkyd enamel, which is oil-based and quite durable. The enamel paint is available in many colours, but you may want to take the all-white route, considering your white cabinets, and give your kitchen a clean, monochromatic look.

If painting the tile doesn’t appeal to you, a more expensive solution could be covering the tiles with a metal laminate. There are hundreds of metal laminates available, such as copper, steel, nickel and brass finishes. A stainless steel backsplash would add contemporary flare to your kitchen, while a copper backsplash suggests a more traditional French-Provençal feel. Sheets of laminate can be cut and either screwed or adhered directly to your tiles.