When we moved into our home, we gradually discovered lots and lots (and lots) of quirky renovations from a time gone by. Our kitchen is the most entertaining. Although a classic selection of white cabinets, bronzed hardware, and a neutral (yet creative floor tile) countertop, this budget renovation left us with idiosyncrasies like not raising the two windows behind the sink so they cannot be opened; pieces of wood molding missing for no good reason; three or four layers of linoleum with one surprise ceramic layer underneath the existing cabinets; and that’s just to name a few. She’s working her way up to photo-ready status.
The 20-year-old kitchen redesign had great intentions to be a clean, neutral palate of whites and off-whites, and then at some point, someone put in what I affectionately dubbed, “the safari backsplash.” Honestly, I liked the tile, but it screamed at me every time I looked at it. On top of that, it was installed behind the stove, and only the stove, standing out like a sore thumb ripped off by a hungry, emaciated lion. It was time to paint this kitchen tile backsplash.
Since Chris and I ultimately plan to gut the kitchen to the studs (but not the original hardwoods if they’re somewhere under there!!), I wanted to find a cheap and clever way to transform the space. I envisioned painting the tile, but that came with concerns of chipping from heat exposure and cleaning over time, but when I went to my local hardware store (love your local), they handed me the answer to my prayers. Two words: epoxy paint. Cue angelic tones.
The product I used – Homax Tough as Tile – is designed specifically for porcelain-like surfaces. It’s great for restoring old cast iron bathtubs, and guess what else? Safari Dreamin’ tile backsplashes!! This product came with a shit-ton of application instructions; be sure to read them thoroughly. Then break the rules where you can, or is that just a me thing? Hmph.
You’ll want to start by scrubbing the life out of your surfaces. Get on some work clothes, pop out a solid degreaser of your choice, and scrub, scrub, scrub. I used 000 steel wool, steaming hot water and bleach. Lather, rinse, repeat at least two times. Once your safari backsplash is sparkling like the day it got installed, wipe dry, and say your formal goodbyes. The prep work makes the dream work.
Before you start painting, make sure to wear gloves and a mask – or better yet a respirator if you can’t handle regular house paint fumes. I’ve painted more rooms than I can count, but this epoxy product is particularly noxious (I believe it could knock out a small child). I bought a cheap nylon brush for one-time use, and painted two coats to achieve the level of bright white I desired. Instructions are critical at this point, as you have to let your first coat dry for a specific amount of time before the second. I was able to accomplish this makeover over the course of a few hours. You cannot beat that!
I LOVE how this came out. The updated tile backsplash has the luster and feel of porcelain tile, and it gave our kitchen a great flow and brightness it so desperately needed. It’s a domino effect because now I want to paint the walls off-white to keep the feel going! Either way, it’s amazing to think $25 for a quart of paint, and .50 for a paintbrush resulted in one small change that transformed a huge space, but that’s really all it takes.
Go forth and DIY, my friends!