Budget Friendly Upcycle: Updating A Splashback

If you have eagle-eyes you might have noticed in the before and after photos of Number One’s kitchen the splash back has change. I was concerned that changing the splash back was going to be expensive, time consuming and an upheaval. At some point, I’d like to modernise the kitchen, but until then we found this cheap and innovative way of updating the splashback for a luxurious and bespoke look.

The following guide is a run down of what we did, which could work for any tiling across your home, from bathroom to utility room, especially on a budget! If you do decide to make an update please send me a before and after picture, as I love seeing them!

Believe it or not this update cost under £20. We used Colours Feature Wall Copper Effect Metallic Emulsion Paint (1 litre) and Rust-o-Leum Matt Sealer (125ml) with our trusty gloss rollers for the paint and a 2" paint brush for the sealant.

Yes that’s right, I told you that you could use emulsion on tiles; unconventional I know, but it worked for us! When looking for ways to update our tiles, it was recommended that an extra coat of emulsion could be used instead of buying a specific tile paint. This left us tons more colour options than we would have had if we went for tile paint, and also would be cheaper to complete even with the extra coat required.



Clean up the tiles with sugar soap to remove grease and grime, then dry down. Remember to wear protective gloves for this as the soap is quite abrasive and can leave your hands dry and cracked, which is no fun for anyone. I managed to miss a spot with the sugar soap and the greasy residue on the tile meant the paint wouldn’t stick at all.


After the tiles are clean and dry, protect any surrounding surfaces. For instance, tape cabinet edges or surfaces that could get spills or paint splashes. Make sure you use a good quality masking tape such as Frog Tape so that you don’t lift off any new paint at the end.


Wearing a mask and protective eyewear, sand down the tiles so that they look less shiny. This way the tiles are more susceptible to adhering to the paint you are going to apply. We did this with a hand-held belt sander that we used for the cupboard doors. But you could also use a coarse sandpaper and good old fashioned elbow grease. The later would work particularly well for any small tiled areas, like behind the sink. If you have any electrical sockets that you want to keep, remember to remove the fascias and turn off the mains before painting.


Once you have removed the shine, mix up your emulsion to get a good consistency. Grab a gloss roller and line it up with the edge of the tiles and make a downwards stroke, then move across the initial stroke ensuring an overlap, and repeat. This method gave me the smoothest and most opaque finish.


Once the first coat is dry (read paint pot for instructions!) it’s time to add the next coat. I tired going in different directions when applying this coat to even out the coverage and ensure durability later on. I am not sure if that even works, but the results looked good.


As we didn’t use primer in this tutorial, the first coat kind of counts as the primer. This means a third coat is good for the best level of finish. To be honest though, you can add more coats or touch up as you see fit.


A couple of days after the emulsion is put down, use a brush to apply the Rust-o-leum sealant to protect the tiles. Don't worry if it looks a bit greige to start with, it dries clear! Once dry, reassemble the fascias on the electricals.

There you have it, 7 easy steps to a new splash back and all for under £20! Obviously all painted tiles can get a bit chipped, but for a quick fix or an inexpensive upcycle, this is definitely the way to go! Ours has lasted really well, and where an area got chipped from the moving boxes I have dabbed on a tiny bit of emulsion and voila! All fixed!

As always, please remember to take care and use common sense when tackling projects like this, only ever paint in well ventilated spaces and be cautious when sanding or using sharp tools. I am not a professional painter/decorator and I am simply sharing what worked for me.

Links within this post are affiliated, although it is not a sponsored post. This means the company will give me a few pennies for anything you purchase using my links, there will not be an increased cost to you!