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How to Cover Decorative Tiles in a Kitchen

Updated February 21, 2017

Kitchens often have ceramic tile backsplashes to protect the wall from food and grease when cooking. If you have a decorative tile backsplash in your kitchen that no longer matches with your motif, don't spend the money to have the tiles replaced. Instead, paint over them with a special tile paint. According to The New Homemaker, the key to successful tile painting is proper preparation. Oil-based paint is the preferred type of paint to use when covering tile.

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  1. Wet down the entire tile backsplash with a spray-on grease cutter. Let the grease cutter penetrate the tile for about 20 minutes. Make sure to keep the tiles wet with grease cutter for the entire 20 minutes.

  2. Scrub the tiles with a stiff-bristled scrub brush to remove as much grease as possible. Rinse the cleaner off completely with water and dry with a towel.

  3. Sand the tiles with 220 grit sandpaper to create a slight tooth, or roughness, to the tile. This will give the paint better adhesion. Wipe away all of the sanding dust with a tack cloth.

  4. Paint a thin layer of oil-based primer over the tiles. Use the edge of your brush to fill in the grout cracks, then lightly brush over the entire area to blend the strokes. Do this until the all of the tiles are covered and let the primer dry for the time indicated on the packaging.

  5. Apply the first coat of semi-gloss or high-gloss oil-based paint with a clean paintbrush. Use long, even strokes and apply the paint in a thin layer. Multiple thin layers stick to tile better than one thick layer. Let the paint dry, then apply a second and third coat if necessary.

  6. Let the paint cure for the amount of time indicated by the manufacturer. Apply a coat of urethane with a clean paintbrush using long, even strokes. Make sure to get into all of the grout cracks.

  7. Allow the urethane to cure for the recommended time indicated on the packaging.

  8. Tip

    Use a satin-finish floor paint or semi-gloss polyurethane paint for tiled kitchen floors.


    Do not paint tiles that are exposed to a lot of water. If water spills on painted tile, clean it up as soon as possible.

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Things You'll Need

  • Grease cutter
  • Scrub brush
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • 220 grit sandpaper
  • Tack cloth
  • Oil-based primer
  • Paintbrushes
  • Oil-based tile paint
  • Urethane

About the Author

Elizabeth Chaplin
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