DIY Network

How to Design a Painted-Tile Backsplash

Learn how to make a kitchen backsplash of your own design with hand-painted ceramic tiles.

More in Kitchen

kitchen backsplash with handpainted ceramic tiles
  • Time

    Several Weekends

  • Price Range

    $50 - $100

  • Difficulty

    Moderate to Hard


Step 1: Clean the Tiles

Measure the intended backsplash area, and purchase enough ceramic tiles to cover the space. Place the tiles on a flat surface, and clean them with a mixture of vinegar and water.

Step 2: Select a Design

To determine a design, consult tole-painting books, or look at a variety of wall-covering and upholstery samples. The pattern shown in this project features a central motif that covers several tiles, with a border of checkerboard-painted tiles alternating with bunches of cherries at the top and bottom. Use a pencil to draw the selected design or designs on tracing paper.

Step 3: Transfer the Pattern

Arrange the tiles, and center the pattern on a group of tiles or on an individual tile. Put graphite paper under the pattern, and trace over it with a pen to transfer the image to the tile. Avoid using carbon paper to transfer the design, as it leaves a waxy residue. After transferring the pattern, number the back of the tiles to indicate which goes where.

Step 4: Decorate with an Oven-Bake Paint

Decorate the tiles with oven-bake paints that contain a sealer, such as DecoArt Ultra Gloss enamels. Put blobs of paint on a plastic plate. Use a brush to pat the paint onto the tiles in a thick coat rather than brushing it on. Make sure to fill in any missed areas. Bubbles in the paint will disappear as the tiles are baked, but you may also pop them with a sharp point before baking.

decorate tiles with oven bake paints

Step 5: Stamp with the Sponge

To create a checkerboard pattern on the border tiles, make a square stamp by cutting a square from a compressed sponge. Immerse the sponge in water to plump it up, then dip it in paint, making sure it's well covered. Blot it on the plate a few times, then press the sponge stamp to the tile in a checkerboard pattern. Let the paint dry for 24 hours.

press sponge stamp to tile in checkerboard pattern

Step 6: Bake the Tiles

Bake the tiles according to the instructions on the package. When the tiles are cool use a technical pen or permanent marker to outline or delineate areas of the design.

Install the tile backsplash yourself, or have it professionally installed.