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Splashback tiles are an important part of any clean, safe and well decorated kitchen. Not only will your splashback tiles boost the character and style of the room, they will also protect your walls, countertops and hobs from moisture, steam and hot grease.

Just like any other feature their appeal can wear over time, especially if the tiles and mortar are not well taken care of. However, while removing and replacing tiles can be a messy job, you have a much easier alternative: giving the tiles a fresh coat of paint!

While this can be much more simple and cheap than replacing the tiles, it is not just a matter of buying any old paint and rolling it on. Without the proper product and prep work, the paint will not adhere properly to the wall and will likely wash off the next time you decide to clean.

Booking an interior painting service with a local painter will be your best guarantee of a fantastic finish for a job like this. If your splashback area is particularly small, you may prefer to leave the work to a local handyman, or even to do it yourself! However, you should keep in mind that even a professional splashback tile painting job will only last so long; this is not a permanent solution and in all likelihood you will need to repaint your tiles again within a few years.
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How to prepare splashback tiles for painting

Before you start painting, it is important to prepare the surface of your tiles. If you ignore this part of the job then your new paint will not adhere properly, dripping all over your counters and making your kitchen look a complete mess. It is also worth pointing out now that not all paints will be suitable for this job, for two reasons:

  • Not all paints will adhere to tiles
  • Not all paints will withstand the amount of moisture present in an average kitchen

Take a look at the state of your tiles: are any of them broken? Is the mortar crumbling away or infested with mould? These are problems which will need to be solved before you can move on. You can scrape out and replace the mortar easily enough, but if large sections of the splashback are in disrepair then you may want to consider re-tiling the area after all.

In terms of paint, you will usually have two options:

  • Latex paint - This will require one to two coats of tile-specific bonding primer
  • Tile epoxy - Made specifically for tiles, this option will require just two coats. However, colour choices may be limited

Remember to make sure that both your paint and primer are suitable for tiles! These options may seem slightly more expensive, but remember that they will last for several years. Another advantage of getting tile-specific products is that they will offer detailed instructions on their use, helping to ensure that you get a top quality finish for the work.

Once you have everything you need, start by giving your tiles a good scrubbing with sugar water. Remove any grease and grime, then allow the tiles to dry. Next, get yourself some 240 grit sandpaper and lightly sand the surface. You should then wipe the dust away to prepare for the next stage. 

Next, tape the borders between your splashback tiles and the walls. You will also want to cover your countertops and hob to protect them from paint droplets.

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How to paint kitchen splashback tiles

Once the dust of the tiles has been wiped away and the area around them prepared, your next step will be to apply the tile primer. You can use either a brush or roller, depending on the size of the job itself, though for smaller splashbacks and borders you are advised to use a manageable brush.

Leave for a few hours until the tiles are completely dry. At this point, pay close attention to the instructions for your paint. Certain types may advise adding an undercoating on top of the primer.

Before adding the tile paint, stir it thoroughly to give it an even consistency. You can then apply the first paint coat and leave it to dry. Lightly sand the tiles with 600 grit sandpaper, wipe away the dust and then apply the second coat.

Again, you will need to wait for the coat to dry, but most decorators will also tell you to avoid knocking or splashing the area for at least a week. This will give the paint time to fully set, leaving you with a perfect finish.