Jan 2, 2017

Painted Kitchen Tile Backsplash

A couple of months ago, I painted the back splash in our kitchen.  The tile was fine and in perfect shape, it just wasn't my style.  My first choice would have been to rip the tile out and add white subway tile.  However, in order for that to happen, the tile would have to be installed on top of the edge of the counter top where it meets the wall.  Long term, we won't be keeping these counter tops. So we didn't want to install a new back splash, that would rest on the old counter top, when later we'd have to rip it out to install a new one, causing havoc on the back splash.  Not sure if that makes sense, but anyway, we needed a less permanent solution.  So in came the wonderful magic of oil based paint.

Just so you have an idea of how far this kitchen has come since we moved in, the picture above is from seven months ago when this home was still on the market. 

Five months after living here, this kitchen has new laminate flooring, a new light fixture, painted cabinets, and new hardware.  Painting the back splash just kind of pulled it all together one step further.

The process was simple, except for the fact that I had zero experience with oil based paint.  I'll share one rooky mistake I made so that if you decide to tackle a project like this, you can avoid the mess up I made. 

The first step is to clean all of the tile so the paint will adhere well.  Let it dry well.

Step two, remove any outlet covers around the tile and tape off everything around the tile you don't want paint on.  Unlike water based paint, oil will not wipe off.

Step three, use a good primer (I used Zinsser 1,2,3.  It adheres well to anything and can be found at Home Depot and probably several other places.)  I used a roller to get primer on the big stuff and the edge of the roller to get all of the smaller grouted areas.  This primer dries fast.  So if you're in a hurry, you can follow step four within a couple of hours.

Step four, use an oil based paint to paint over the primer.  I chose a bright white from Behr, right off the shelf.  Just some important notes here...
  • Use a high quality brush, not a roller.  Rollers are harder to work with when you use oil based paint.
  • Use a Semi Gloss or a Gloss sheen.  I used a Semi Gloss sheen for durability and slight shine.  
  • Wait at least one day between coats of oil based paint and watch out for any moisture in the area! (rooky mistake)
STEP FIVE, is super important.  Two coats of paint are required for an even finish.   After coat number one, wait 24 hours before applying coat number two.  Even after my first coat was applied and I had waited 24 hours, that first coat was still sticky to the touch.  Luckily by coast number two, the paint hardened pretty quickly.  The silly silly mistake I made was when dishes were piling up in the sink and I had my son do his weekly dishes chore.  Only one coat of paint had been applied at this point.  Water droplets/Moisture had landed on the back splash directly behind the sink.  So when I applied coat number two, the paint would not adhere smoothly and I was left with a bit of a streaky crackled look.  Lesson to learn here... Don't do the dishes when you're painting your back splash!!!  In fact, if you can, avoid using the sink at all!  

Water and oil don't mix.  I don't know why my brain didn't compute that common knowledge during this process. It's kind of hard to tell, but in the picture above, you can kind of see the unevenness on the tiles around the sink.  Luckily when you stand back, it's not super noticeable.

I love the transformation.  It was a fairly easy fix for not an enormous amount of money.  I already had the primer and the painters tape, so all I had to buy was a nice paint brush and the paint.  An under $30 kitchen back splash solution.


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