DIY Painted Backsplash - Budget Kitchen Makeover – Ellison Made

DIY Painted Backsplash - Budget Kitchen Makeover

Having a big budget to decorate your home means endless possibilities, but real creativity sets in when you're challenged to design on a dime. When we moved into our Georgia home last year, I knew it had a lot of potential, but given our small updating budget, I had to stretch our dollar... and the #1 way to do that: paint. Painting is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to make a dramatic change to any space.

The first space I wanted to update was the kitchen. I loved the tall ceilings, the open floor plan to the living room, the shaker style cabinets and overall layout, but I did not care for the busy pattern of the backsplash or the orange tone cabinet color. The tile design itself resembled a smaller version of traditional subway tile and I liked the staggered layout, but the pattern and color needed a change. 

Oh, by the way, I am doing this backwards - I completed this project and went back to write the blog post so you'll see a few screen grabs from my Instagram highlights which is why some photos have text on them. 


I'm not sure what I was thinking, but I had just finished "painting" our stone fireplace surround with just 123 BIN primer and loved the results (btw - it has held up incredibly well!) so I thought, "Why not paint the tile backsplash?" Here's the before and after of the fireplace surround:


We had planned on updating the backsplash anyway, but I thought I would try to paint it first to see if it would make enough of a difference to hold off on replacing it altogether. So here are the details 
on how I painted my kitchen backsplash:

1. First things first, PREP WORK IS EVERYTHING! Clean, clean and clean again. Remove all light switch outlets, label them and take the opportunity to wipe everything down. I used TSP (trisodium phosphate) I had on hand to remove any dirt, grime and grease, but I hear Krud Kutter is pretty amazing, too. Then I took rubbing alcohol to remove any residue and wiped down the tile with a dry lint-free cloth. 

2. Use 1.75" - 2" wide painter's tape and tape off where the countertop and the tile meet. This will allow you to roll as close as you want without worrying about painting the countertop when you get down to where the backsplash and countertop meet. I started off with 1" and realized my mistake. 

3. I used Zinsser's BIN primer as "paint" meaning I never applied any actual paint color, only the white BIN primer was used. I used a 4" fine finish foam roller similar to these to roll the paint on. Since it was difficult to get into some areas of the grout, I used a small paintbrush to wiggle & work the primer into the grout. 


I had to apply two coats of primer for a solid white background. Make sure you allow the primer to dry fully in between coats. I waited a day or two. 

Since it was pretty opaque already due to the white primer's coverage, I actually left it for quite awhile just like this. I intended to go over with sealant or paint, but months had passed and I was shocked how well it held up. The only area that got dirty was behind the sink and there was two or three areas that had flaked off so I would suggest sealing it right away if you want it to last and you'd need to do caulk where the counter top and the backsplash meet, but since I intend to re-tile the backsplash, I left it as-is because I don't want to make more work for myself when we go to replace the backsplash and maybe one day, countertops.

This was after we painted the backsplash, but before we painted the kitchen cabinets.


(Listing Photo)


That's it! A super simple DIY project that completely changed the look of the space. Click here for how we painted our kitchen cabinets and see our DIY shiplap which is the same method we used for our island in the kitchen, as well.