How to Paint a Faux Tile Backsplash


Tile can be expensive, but paint is easily affordable and using it you can create a fantastic backsplash that most will think is really tile! 

Nothing can give your kitchen cabinets more pizzazz than a beautiful tile backsplash.  It adds color, depth and a totally customized look.  However, ceramic and glass tiles can be expensive and quite a project to install.  So, why not turn to paint to solve this dilemma? You can create any size, color or shape tile you like when you are painting and besides, half the beauty is that you created it yourself!

Materials List:

  • Latex satin paint for the grout color (if necessary)
  • Several quarts of latex satin paint for tiles
  • Brownish tinted glaze
  • Cream or white tinted glaze
  • Water based polyurethane
  • ¼” Masking Tape to tape off the grout lines
  • Foam brushes, one for each color
  • Measuring Tape
  • Long level
  • Pencil
  • Painter’s blue tape
  • Drop cloths
  • Screw Driver

Sometimes ¼” masking tape is difficult to find.  Try a craft store ore even a drafting supply store in your area.  We have resorted to using a sharp utility knife and cutting wider tape down to size while it is still on the roll.  This can be dangerous, so be careful!!

1. Start by determining the size and shape of your tiles.  Will they be rectangular?  Square?  Octagonal?  Next determine how your design will be placed in the backsplash.  Is there enough room for an even number of tiles or do you need to border your design with an additional line of small mosaics or bar shaped tiles?

2. Determine if the color of the current backsplash will be the grout color.  If not, paint a basecoat of the grout color to cover the entire backsplash.

3. Once the basecoat has dried and you have the layout configured, begin drawing it out on the backsplash, using the measuring tape, level and pencil.  When you draw a line for the ¼” masking tape, draw only one and make it a habit to always place the tape on one side or the other so you don’t have to draw both lines.

4. With painter’s blue tape mask off the countertop, the base of the upper cabinets, and any side walls that are not being “tiled”.

5. Next, apply the ¼” masking tape to the predetermined side of the pencil lines, letting the pencil line show so you can cover it up with paint.  Make sure to use your thumbnail or the back of a spoon to run along the edges of the tape.  Seepage of the tile color will mess up the crisp edges of the grout.


6. Now that all the tape is up, it’s time to start painting the tiles.  We used several colors selected from a painted vase in the room.  Since we wanted to spread the colors randomly, we started with the darkest, since it would show up the most, and began randomly painting tiles, using the foam brush, all around the room.  We would stand in the middle of the room and look around to take in as much of the backsplash as possible to make sure the color placement looked random.

7. Continue in this fashion, adding one color after the other.  Keep the brushes wet for all colors because you may have to go back to a previously used color to fill in an area to make it look balanced.

8. As soon as an area is filled in, remove the ¼” masking tape to keep the paint film from drying over the tape and pulling off.



9. Once all of the tiles are painted, it’s time to give them some dimension.  This is accomplished through the use of the two tones of glaze.  First, determine where the strongest light source is coming from in the room.  If it is a double patio door, or a large window, consider its location and where it is compared to the tile.  If the light in the room is coming from the right of the tiles, then the white or cream glaze will be brushed on from the right side and from the top.  The brown glaze will be brushed on the tiles from the left side and the up from the bottom. We did the brown glaze first. These light, just barely crossing highlights will really make your tiles come to life.  Remember to use a very light touch so as not to cover the color of the tile, just highlight it.

10. The final step is to add polyurethane to the entire backsplash.  This will make it easier to clean up than real tile since the grout is generally not protected!


Another great idea for kitchen tiles is to do a washing technique to give the tiles an overall old world effect, and then find a stencil you like, and add veggies or teapots or roosters to certain special tiles in your arrangement.  Remember, this is a totally one of a kind design….take the time to really make it yours!!


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