How to paint a backsplash!

There were some potty training adventures this weekend. We’re not ready to boast success just yet, so we’re going to hold off on ‘that’ post. But I will say that there was a victorious #2-bomb that got dropped in the waters of the toilet. TOUCHDOWN!

In other news, the ‘arches’ are finally finished! Nick was priming them the other day, and since the primer was all convenient and available, I decided to paint over our backsplash (that I painted the very first week we lived in this house). This is what it looked like the first time I painted it to look like a tile backsplash:


It’s served us well for several years, and I liked how classic and neutral it was. But since we paint so many awesome backsplashes, I’ve been feeling like ours is pretty darn boring and plain for my current taste. It was kinda sad painting over all that work, but it was time for a change.

PAINT your backsplash to look like Tile!

Now that I had this beautiful blank slate, I had to decide what to do! So many options!!

Prepping your backsplash for PAINTING! {Sawdust and Embryos}

I’ve been loving the long/skinny staggered horizontal like Brenda’s backsplash, so Nick did some measuring and mathematics, and gave me some tape markers on the ruler to use for my markings.

Painting your backsplash to look like TILE! {Sawdust and Embryos}

So every couple feet, I would lightly put little penciled markings to direct my taping efforts.

PAINTING your backsplash to look like tile! (Sawdust and Embryos)





But it’s so worth it, my dear friends! Don’t be discouraged!

Taping off your backsplash to PAINT FAUX TILE!! {Sawdust and Embryos}

Next, I very randomly put little short pieces of painters tape here and there, making various sizes of long/horizontal ‘tiles’. The less you think, the better! (my kind of project!)

Taping off your backsplash to PAINT FAUX TILE!! (Sawdust and Embryos}

Now for the fun part! I wanted very contrasting colors, so I did some light(ish) natural ‘travertine’-looking tiles. I decided to throw in some solid colors that would look like ‘glass’ tiles… so I went with solid black, silver, and dark teal (using some leftover wall color).

This is what it looked like after painting and BEFORE we removed the tape…

PAINTING your backsplash to look like TILE! {Sawdust & Embryos}


PAINT your backsplash to look like TILE!!! {Sawdust and Embryos}

I love the unexpected shimmer of the metallic ‘tiles’.

PAINT your backsplash to look like tile!! {Sawdust and Embryos}

I know I’m taking a break from turquoise, but we had leftover wall paint (Pittsburgh Paints ‘Deep Emerald’),  and it just felt right, ok? I’m not one to waste paint.

Sawdust and Embryos

Yes, I truly keep a mug of paint brushes on the back of my stove. They get used enough that it’s just convenient to have them out and available. And I decided they’re pretty!

PAINTED Backsplash! {Sawdust and Embryos}

Before/After pic:

Before & After Painted Backsplash! {Sawdust and Embryos}

It’s just a little more edgy and unique, and I like that.

Kitchen with Glossy Swirls and Painted Backsplash {Sawdust and Embryos}

There are still some things I would change about my kitchen… but building appliances from scratch isn’t one of Nick’s many talents. I wouldn’t hate it if Kenmore contacted us and wanted to sponsor our blog and give us a few ‘samples’. Heh heh…blank-001

P.S… if you’d like to see the technique we used to achieve the glossy swirls on the wall, click here! It’s by far our most popular post of all time!

And here’s a ‘PIN-able’ pic for your pinning pleasure!

PAINT your backsplash to look like custom tile! {Sawdust & Embryos}


  1. so pretty.. and goes with your teal really nicely.

  2. I love it! Your artistic abilities blow me away. I’m glad you kept teal in the mixture. It’s really cohesive with your walls. And your orange appliances pop very nicely. It matches your personal style much better. I’m pretty dang excited to see dem arches. Woot.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Looks awesome, Beth! I love your choice of colors. Your artistic talent just blows me away! Good job!

  4. Love this! It is such a huge difference and it looks fantastic!

  5. I LOVE it! I especially love the color choices you made with the pop of orange

  6. Awesome job guys!

  7. It’s like your kitchen went from, “you look nice” to “you look hot!”

  8. where the heck did you find painters tape that skinny? did you have to cut the roll yourself?

  9. I like it!

  10. OMGosh, this looks absolutely awesome!

  11. You did an amazing job. My breath hitched when the AFTER picture scrolled up. Thank you so much for sharing.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Only two to describe it. LOVE IT!

  13. I am totally amazed! It looks like real tile and all that taping! You must have much more patience than me! :)

  14. That’s probably my favorite backsplash you have done! I love the super long skinny tiles.

  15. Wow! It looks sooo good!

  16. LOVE!

  17. I love it! YOu have inspired me, several months ago, to try to do a painted backsplash. But I cannot find painter’s tape that narrow. I even looked online. Where do you get it? I saw another tutorial where they used the thin painters tape and it pulled the paint right off with it when removed, and it was still wet. So I got afraid. What I did was to paint the whole backsplash a glossy white, because I want it to look like white subway tile with grey grout. Next, I am going to use regular frog tape to tape off the grout lines. Wish me luck!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Favorite project yet!!

  19. wow, thats all just paint???? Thats amazing. I am pretty sure I wouldnt have the patience to tape that much, or have the brains to keep it so straight. That is one awesome effort. I’m just going to go back and stare at the photo for a while longer….

    Britt @ Creating Space for Five

  20. Wow! It is beautiful! From your before and after pictures, the paint warmed up the color of your counter top also! Can’t wait to see the arches. I am sure they are awesome too!

  21. I was ready to hate it on principle for covering up that beautiful tile. But. It’s amazing. Good job. :)

  22. I LOVE it!!!

  23. Holy Shitballs that looks amazing!

  24. Anonymous says:

    Have you thought about doing some type of your cool painting tricks to the back of your sink/bar area? It looks like plywood in your pics….just begging for your attention!

    • The island is painted an olive-beige color, and coordinates with a stencil in the pantry… I actually love the color! But I could see how it would look like plywood in pictures. :) I’ve thought about doing a patterned treatment of some kind to it, but I think it would be too busy.

  25. Wow! That looks incredible!

  26. OMG! I love that new backsplash. I am working on our kitchen. Everything in it is just yuck. Poor quality cabinets, walls, trim. I just painted, but there’s faux brick under the cabinets and around the two windows. I plan to rip that off and put some kind of backsplash. I really don’t feel like I know what to do, but the kitchen is starting so badly I really don’t feel it could be worse. I’m thinking the wall is going to be super bad behind the faux brick or I would try this method. LOVE!

  27. Your kitchen is sexy! I’m digging that orange Kichenaid! I have borin…I mean… from my husband…black. :)

  28. Looks amazing – just like real tile! You are super talented!!!!

  29. You totally inspired me super talented lady! So, I tried my hand at painting my own backsplash (I did a penny tile version!). It’s not as awesome as yours, but I’m inspired to keep trying these “daring” paint projects now, so thank you! I may change mine to what you just did here. :)

    Please check it out if you get the chance:

  30. That is GORGEOUS – I am amazed! You’ve inspired me to do my own kitchen!

  31. I love the way your “tile” turned out! I myself did a complete faux kitchen, complete with faux shaker style cabinets (I added flat trim to frame out the existing basic MDF cabinets), faux granite painted countertops (not from a kit either!), and faux subway tile backsplash (I did the same technique you did, except I mudded over the tape, pulled up the tape and shaped each “tile” before they dried. Then I painted each one and sealed with polycrylic.)

  32. Anonymous says:

    It is absolutely brilliant!! How many colours do you suggest and what is the “sheen” to them.

    • You can use as few or as many colors as you want! We usually use a handful of neutrals (5 or 6) plus whatever accent colors you’re throwing in. For the tiles that are meant to look like ‘stone’ we use a flat paint. And for the solid color tiles that are meant to look like ‘glass’ we use high gloss. Hope this helps! Send us pics when you’re done!

  33. Awesome! Love the look. Don’t have the patience to do it though. Also, I need a backsplash.

  34. Did u use acrylic paint for this? If not what do you recommend?

  35. Do you have to clear coat over it?

  36. Any tips for painting over a laminate backsplash? Wondering if the paint will stick?

  37. ok. so i painted my backsplash last weekend. It’s a huge improvement but I don’t think I am in love with my color choices. I will live with a bit and see how I feel. Question is: did you seal yours at all? I am worried about splatters and splashes wrecking all that work.
    Also, found the tape locally at Grainger.

    • Hey Michelle! Sorry your not loving your color choice. You could try taping around those individual tiles you don’t care for and redoing them?

      We do recommend sealing your backsplash with a clear coat of PolyCrylic for added durability.

  38. Beth, THANK YOU for posting this! I just did something like this in our bathroom from stumbling onto your site and I LOVE it! But it’s soooo much work, lol. I wish I could’ve just paid for you to come do it. /facepalm

    • Oh man… that looks AWESOME. I know it’s a lot of work, but isn’t it sooooo worth it? I’m glad you listened to your hubby and kept chugging along until it was finished. It’s the BEST feeling pulling the tape off, right?! You should be proud!

  39. This comment has been removed by the author.

  40. OH! One more big thing.
    When do you recommend peeling the tape? While it’s still wet or after it dries?
    Thanks for any input. I shoulda taken pictures.

  41. oh, boy. I just painted over my first attempt at a painted backsplash. As in taped, painted, peeled the tape, watched all my silver tiles come off with the tape, saw a LOT of bleedthrough, tried to fix it, realized that I had played through 3 records and had “fixed” only one line of tile….and then painted over the whole thing with KILZ. I’m not sure what the problem is..Oil-based primer? Too much paint on each tile (I used a brush, not a sponge, and went pretty heavy, especially with the failed silver.) Could it be our taping method? My husband picked up the 1/4in tape locally, but only had experience using it in an automotive setting. He suggested, given that our wall is old and uneven, that I anchor the tape on one end of a stretch, measure an even height at the other end, and stretch the tape across to make it appear perfectly straight. The taping went much quicker this way, and actually looked a lot better than my measuring out every 6 inches. But I wonder if it affected the adhesion. Doesn’t seem likely, since that’s the method used to tape off striping on cars….but cars are a lot smoother than a kitchen wall. He’s retaping it today while i’m at work. I plan to try again, with a more “stenciling-inspired” approach (less paint, sponge application instead of brush, layers if needed for depth, but very light on each layer. Any thought, suggestions…pity? Pulling out the KILZ was a bummer, but there was no rescuing it and I wasn’t going to use polycrylic on a wall I wasn’t satisfied with–that stuff be spendy.

    • Wow Sierra, that’s a major bummer! I’m sorry it’s not working out right! Globbing too much paint on could DEFINITELY be one of the reasons. We use a sponge brush and just blotch the paint on. I can’t vouch for any tape by the one we use, but it sounds like it should be working better than that. What you could try is… AFTER taping, paint the whole thing white first. That way any paint that seeps under will be white and won’t show anyway. Then paint your tiles after that. Does that make sense? The white paint will seal the tape down too, and you should have a perfectly crisp line. As for removing tape, we start taking it off as soon as we’re finished painting. If the paint dries completely, it will peel off when you pull off your tape. That might be what happened with your silver paint. Sorry you’re having SO many problems. Feel free to ask ANY more questions you might have. And be sure to send us pictures when you’re done!!

  42. I’m doing a plain black or plain white backsplash soon. Wish my cooking skills would spare the dainty painted ones.
    This looks amazing. thanks for sharing.

  43. Did you have to sand down the old paint so you wouldn’t have ridges? I painted my backsplash last year (inspired by you of course!) and just wondered if you had to do any special prep work before painting over it.


  44. Anonymous says:

    Hi i would like to know what colors you used in

  45. Anonymous says:

    In Anagalas Home love those colors and would be a great idea for my mobile home

  46. LOVE THIS!!!! I’m remodeling our RV, and I want to do a tile backsplash, but I’m worried about the grout cracking while it bumps around. THIS is perfect!!!

    What’s your technique with the paint? Are you mixing different colors on the tiles, or is the realistic look just from the sponge brush?

    So awesome! Can’t wait to try this tonight!!

    • We just squirted a couple different colors of paint on a paper plate and blotched our sponge brush into it and blotted it onto the wall! There isn’t really any technique to it. It’s fun and easy! Send pics when you’re done!

  47. Your backsplash turned out great, so beautiful! I’ve got this linked to my backsplashes post too today!

  48. Anonymous says:

    Hi Beth!
    I JUST finished my backsplash and I love love it! Thank you for being so helpful for all us newbies!

    A couple questions, if you dont mind. I bought the PolyCrylic like you said. I bought semi-gloss, is that what you use? They had matte, semi-gloss, and gloss. Didn’t know which would look more real, so i went with the one in the middle. What do you use?
    Question 2: It seems very runny when I shake it in the can, almost like water. How do you apply it? Does it run the colors that I just painted?
    3: How many coats do you use? This will be in my kitchen behind the stove and sink so I splatter. I want to make sure it is durable so I can wipe it to clean it.

    I can’t thank you enough for being so inspiring and helpful!

    • Hey Jen! The sheen of the PolyCrylic doesn’t matter that much. The glossy one is the most ‘wipeable and durable’ just because it’s glossy… but it doesn’t look as real. So I would have gone with the semi-gloss too.

      It is pretty runny. I think the back of the can says to stir instead of shaking, so that might pick up some residue at the bottom and make it a LITTLE thicker. Just pour some into a paint tray and roll it on with a paint roller. If you drip… it’s water based, so it’s easy to clean up with soap and water. And you really only need to do one coat.

      I usually recommend waiting a couple days after painting the backsplash to seal it. That gives the paint time to fully cure.

      Hope this helps!! Send pics when you’re done!

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you so much!!

  49. Anonymous says:

    Oh, and one other, How long did you wait until you applied it to the new backslash?

    Thank you!!!!

  50. I just finished my own painted backsplash inspired by this post! I love it! Thank you for sharing!
    Here’s a link to the post

  51. Thank you for the inspiration for my back splash. I have a quick question. I want to paint the portion of the wall behind the range with chalkboard paint. Do you have any experience with chalkboard paint? I have used it on small projects but not a large one. My other concern is splatters on the chalkboard paint from the range. Would you advise using it there?
    Thank you for your blog and your story is inspiring. Thanks for any advice!

  52. Heather, chalkboard paint is going to really show grease stains and splatters. I think it would look really cool, but I’m not sure about how well it would clean up. We’ve used chalkboard paint a few times, but not in a frequently-used area like that… so it’s really hard to advise you one way or another. Please do let us know if you give it a try and what kind of experience you have with it!

  53. Hi! I love this tutorial. I ended up using 2″ diamonds and cutting the 1/4″ tape to 1/8″ (actually found the tape at Menard’s, a store in the Midwest). Ours turned out really well! I had to repair the drywall before hand though, so it took a little longer than I would have liked, but totally worth it. Best comment on the backsplash so far was when a person was visiting our house said, “I’ll let you get back to that.” (I was almost finished!) (me)I don’t have too much more to do, it took forever to tape and paint though. “That’s paint?!” It rocked =) Thanks!

    • Wow Jessica!!! That turned out AMAZING! And that’s a huge kitchen! Isn’t it fun to see people’s reaction when they realize it’s paint?

    • Thank you =) It is really fun to see people’s reaction. My mother-in-law came over and stopped me mid-sentence to say, “Can we go see the kitchen now?” It cracked me up. It is a big kitchen… it took longer to do than I thought with the drywall repairs I had to do, the layers of primer, and summer activities with my daughter.

  54. Okay, I have a question. I’ve just looked at many of your backsplashes, which look cool and all, but I don’t understand a basic premise here.

    Why do you paint it to LOOK LIKE tiles instead of just INSTALLING tiles? Tiles can be wiped clean (oil, spaghetti sauce,etc.) while paint…not as much.

    Is it because
    a) it is easier to do than tiling? Or cheaper?
    b) you can paint over the old design when you tile of the one you spent hours and hours on
    c) you have more design choices than with tiles
    d) something else.

    I just don’t get why.

  55. Sorry, I just saw your whole explanation on the S/E page!

  56. Love this idea. Can’t wait to try it!

    Do you think I could use some leftover satin and semi-gloss paint instead of acrylic craft paint? If I used that would I need to by the polycrylic top coat on?

  57. tiff moore says:

    Love it n going to try it on our new house when we move next month, but going to try doing it vertically! What kind of paint do you paint it w? And do you put a clear coat or anything over it? So awesome!!!
    Where dfo I see pics of the other backsplash you’ve done?

  58. i am so excited about trying this project, but I am a little scared about picking colors. For the colors that you chose for your kitchen, did you blend them together or did you just do one color per square? How would you recommend choosing colors? Should they all be in the same color family? Should you mix them before painting the wall?

    • Natalie, you can pretty much choose whatever colors you want! Unless I’m doing a bright color (to look like a ‘glass’ tile), I usually make each tile primarily neutrals tan/cream/brown, with an occasional pop of color. I recommend taping off a grid on cardboard and practicing. It’s just something you have to get a feel for and decide what you like. Good luck! Send pics when you’re done!

  59. Just wondering if you have ever tried to get a “raised” affect by using wall spackle? I am thinking of doing this for a few of the ‘stones.” I would have to be careful and wipe away excess on the tape beforehand, though. If you have tried it and it didn’t work, please let me know!
    Love, love, love this painted backsplash.

    • Linda, unfortunately we don’t have any experience using spackle to create a raised effect, but in theory it makes sense! Just make sure you remove the tape before the spackle has too much time to dry. If you give it a go, be sure to send pictures and let us know how it worked out!

  60. Hey there! I am having a heck of a time finding 1/4″ painters tape. Where did you get yours!?

  61. Jess Stevens says:

    OMG, I LOVE this project, and I think I may give it a try! Our kitchen is in need of some love. What kind of paint did you use? Basic wall paint? What about the metallic? I was thinking acrylic, but I don’t know if that will work out on the wall? Love your blog!

  62. I’m taping now. My eyes are burning:) Thank you for such a wonderful idea!! I’m excited, this will make such a difference in my kitchen! Sooooo cool…. & cheap:):)

  63. Hello there! My husband and I recently re did our counter top and were looking into tiling our backsplash. After searching for tile and not finding anything we thought about a cheaper route and found your blog! So thankful we landed on it. I’m a big DIY’er and stumbled across your website and so glad I did. This past weekend we painted the “grout” base color and successfully taped all the lines. Boy were you right that it took a long time but so worth it. Just the tape on the wall gives you an idea of what it’s going to look like and we couldn’t be more excited. I will say that we ordered the 1/4″ painter tape from a local Grainger store. It was so weird though because I noticed after I finished taping that the beginning of the roll was thicker than the tape at the end of the roll. It’s not noticeable but I can see it. It must be the way they cut the tape but it’s definitely thinner towards the end but it’s a gradual change. We taped off the pieces last night and tonight we plan on starting the tile pieces! Can’t wait. We love your backsplash. Thanks for the inspiration!

  64. I just found your site and I am a new bloglovin’ follower! I love this amazing backsplash – I too have a teal kitchen and I LOVE it – can’t wait to check out the rest of your blog!

  65. Lovely job. I think you could do the whole kitchen island to match! As if you haven’t enough to do!!

  66. Wow!!! That was definitly worth it!! Great job! You can be proud
    Thanks for showing

  67. I’m not nervous about the taping, but any advice on how to get such great dimension in the “tile” colors? I foresee a weekend project coming up and I’m nervous my tiles will look dull and basic! Can’t wait to try this! :) wish you lived closer!

    • Amy, there’s really no trick do it. If you’re using a sponge brush and get at least two shades of paint on it at a time, just blotch it on! We don’t use any special technique or anything. Try to make some ’tiles’ blotchier than others… and some almost solid. The variety of textures will make your backsplash look even more real! Most importantly, send us pics when you’re done! GOOD LUCK!

  68. I like using paint to decorate myself. This is a great idea for a small kitchen. Really makes a statement. wondering how it looks close up? It looks great from further away in the photo…

  69. Have you ever tried to paint over formica/laminate? If so, do you have some tips/hints.

  70. I should have read your post above. Sorry for the repeat question.


  1. […] And P.S, if you’re curious about our backsplash… it’s PAINTED! And the tutorial is here! […]

  2. […] last week Beth from Sawdust and Embryos posted an awesome faux tile tutorial and I instantly had to have it. I feel in faux tile love. I asked her where on earth so found […]

  3. […] super old picture above… we’ve re-painted our backsplash since […]

  4. […] tape, you can achieve the coveted subway tile look at a fraction of the cost.  Our friends at show you how, step by […]

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