How to Redo an Old Brick Backsplash (Without Tearing It Out)

Join me in this post where I’ll tell you everything you need to know about painting that ugly brick backsplash in your kitchen. There’s no need to pry away brick after brick! This easy DIY is a great and inexpensive way to bring your outdated kitchen into the modern times with a pop of retro fun.

When we first looked at buying our current house, one of the biggest concerns was updating the kitchen…especially on a budget. It was a hot mess of modern and outdated, but as they say–location, location, location! Our quaint, 1960 abode is right in the hub of Tennessee’s Oldest Town, and it is the perfect starter home for our family of two (plus Oakley *wink*). So, we started planning how we could best update our kitchen without breaking the bank or totally ruining its midcentury charm.

We tackled updating the kitchen cabinets for under $100 first, but the bright red, brick backsplash really threw us for a loop.

Kitchen before cabinet + backsplash revamp.

While researching the era of our home, and why in the world it had a bright red, brick backsplash…I found out brick backsplashes were apparently quite the rage back in the day. It was especially trendy with midcentury-style ranch homes, like ours (read more about kitchen trends of the 60s and 70s here).

So, if you have a brick backsplash and feeling a little stumped on how to update this old trend, you’re not alone *wink*

One of our many “Lowe’s dates” after we first bought our house.

Our first idea was to simply tile over it, but that could get pricey and take away from the midcentury modern character. So, that was a no-go.

Next, plan B. Let’s paint it….brick by boring brick *cue Paramore*

In general, our home is filled with LOTS of bright, retro colors, so an all-white kitchen didn’t really fit the vibe. I took more of an artsy approach with tonal blues, purples and deep greens (specific colors noted below)…BUT if you’re more into neutrals, earth tones or soft hues, you can easily pick variants to create a similar look that matches your personal style or home décor. See some of my initial inspiration + other ideas on Pinterest.

Okay–let’s get down to brass tacks. Here’s everything you need to know about how to paint a brick backsplash in your kitchen!

Specific Valspar Colors Used:

Skyler is much better at taping straight lines *wink* Thankful he loves crazy, home-revamp projects as much as me!

Step 1: Clean & Prep

Cleaning: Before getting into the fun stuff (painting), it’s important to start with a clean and taped area. I cleaned the bricks with a Dawn soap and warm water mixture and let them fully dry overnight. A cheap sponge gets the job done, but if there’s a lot of dirt/grease/grime build-up, I suggest doing do two or three cleaning cycles before priming. Avoid using a Mr. Clean sponge–while this is my usual go-to for household messes, it leaves a white, dusty residue on the bricks!

Prepping: I am definitely not an expert painter, so painter’s tape and drop cloths are always a good idea *wink* Skyler taped around the wall where the bricks go past the corner cabinet to avoid getting paint on the kitchen walls (see above). We also taped around window sills and draped plastic on the countertops. While these things aren’t totally needed to revamp your brick backsplash, I definitely recommend: Frog Painter’s Tape (my favorite at Lowe’s) and plastic drop cloths (my favorite at Lowe’s). Note: We did a single prep for the backsplash and cabinet painting project.

Step 2: Prime

DO NOT SKIP THE PRIMER! Priming the bricks with the KILZ 2 not only gives you a fresh canvas, but also helps the interior paint stick or adhere better to the brick. The KILZ 2 is my favorite primer because it specifically states you can use it to prime masonry/brick. It also helps block stains (water, rust, grease, ink, pencil and felt marker), and it creates a protective layer to fight mildew. I prefer using KILZ 2 because it’s water-based, so you don’t have to worry about it smelling to high-heaven, which was a big plus in our small kitchen *wink*

Step 3: Swatch Colors (if alternating)

Putting this much color in your kitchen can be a bit nerve racking, so swatching helps give perspective of the end result. It also makes it easier to enlist your fiancé’s help in painting lots and lots of bricks *wink*

Since this project was a bit different than anything I had found online, I took my time and tried to take steps to make sure it was exactly what I had envisioned. I avoided a particular pattern and kept the colors more sporadic to play on the contrast of dark and light hues. Unless you’re painting the entire backsplash a solid color (like white or blue), I recommend swatching and not following a certain pattern–it gives a bit more of a high-fashion and artistic look.

If you’re nervous about swatching, you can start by painting bricks you wouldn’t see anyway. I painted few bricks behind the oven to see if I were going to like the colors I picked out before swatching the entire kitchen.

Step 4: Paint First Coat + Let Fully Dry

At this point, the vision is starting to come together. While it is time consuming (note the nighttime/daytime in the above photos😅), you start to see how truly amazing your new backsplash is going to be! Also, Krispy Kreme donuts (Skyler’s favorite) are a great incentive for helpers *wink*

I recommend taking it color-by-color…brick-by-brick because it saves you from having to rinse your brush each time. I took one color and followed my swatches until I was done with that color, rinsed out my brush, and then started on the next color.

Overall, the first coat will feel like forever, but remember to not get sloppy! It’s important to keep this first coat light; otherwise, you’ll have drips and runs which will only cause more headaches later. When you’re done with the first coat, take a break and walk away. Let the bricks dry at least 8 hours or overnight for best results for the second coat.

Step 5: Paint Second Coat + Let Cure Overnight (8+ hours)

Basically…repeat step 4 *wink* BUT pay close attention to how the color absorbed into the brick during the first coat. Sometimes, you may need to follow the same brush strokes to get an even surface. I tried to vary the directions I painted on the first and second coats to ensure a full coverage overall–this is a method a lot of artists use when applying gesso to a canvas.

Once you’ve completed the second coat on all of the bricks, it is very important to let them dry or “cure” overnight. Because interior paint can stay tacky for a few hours (even if it “feels” dry), I suggest walking away for at least 8 hours, ideally 12 hours.

If you see a brick or two that needs a third coat or touch up, wait until the curing period is over to make sure your brush doesn’t peel up any drying paint.

cleaning tip:

Never scrape or scrub hard! I used a wet Mr. Clean sponge to wipe down bricks behind the oven and sink. I did not use any harsh chemicals or solvents, but where there was grease/grime, I used a little bit of Dawn on the sponge and followed with Windex (sprayed on a paper towel, not directly on the brick).

How I Updated My Kitchen Cabinets for Under $100

A step-by-step guide on renovating outdated, wooden kitchen cabinets from drab to fab for under $100

Renovating or revamping interior spaces is no small feat, especially when it comes to the kitchen. It’s so easy to get on Pinterest and gather big ideas. But it’s even easier to become overwhelmed with where to start, what to buy, and how much it will cost.

If you’ve been wanting to tackle your kitchen cabinets and have been struggling with getting started, today’s post is for you. I’ve got tips and tricks you need to take your kitchen cabinets from drab to fab for under $100! Yes, you read that correctly *wink* under one hundred dollars.

My fiancé and I recently purchased a quaint, mid-century modern home near downtown Jonesborough, Tennessee. While a lot of the major renovation work was completed like new flooring throughout the house, the kitchen was a typical flip job that needed some personality and cohesiveness. I knew when looking at the house, I was going to immediately change the mismatched cabinets and red-brick back splash.

Before painting and revamping

After some investigation, we discovered the bottom cabinets are brand spanking new, but the top cabinets are the original, wood cabinets. The bottom cabinets have a beautiful, smooth enamel finish, while the top ones had a dingy texture–like they had been stripped and re-stained many times over the years.

Rather than destroying our kitchen + spending a fortune on matching top cabinets, my fiancé and I embraced our inner DIY and decided to paint the upper cabinets. Again, I say–this was no small feat *wink* but it was totally worth the time, effort, and “choice” words that were said.

So, if you’re ready to tackle your outdated, wooden kitchen cabinets, here’s what you’ll need to get started:

Step 1: Remove cabinet doors + hardware

It’s much easier to paint cabinets and get a nice finish when the doors and hardware are removed. I set up the cabinet doors in a different room on a clean plastic tarp to ensure they didn’t get dirty, and I didn’t mess up the tile floor. If you’re a messy painter or are handling a bigger project, this is also a good time to put a tarp or plastic covering over counter tops, appliances or flooring. And if you’re cabinets hug the ceiling like mine….I suggest using painter’s tape as well.

Step 2: Clean / wipe down the cabinets and doors.

While this is not an instruction detailed on the can of Valspar enamel paint, I found it extremely helpful in achieving that nice, smooth finish with my older cabinets. This ensures that there’s no dust, oil, pet hair, or any other un-wanted goop on your cabinets prior to painting. I simply used Windex and paper towels.

Step 3: Take a sigh of relief because you don’t have to sand or prime ANything!

Unless you have an unruly or intense texture on your cabinets and cabinet doors, the Valspar enamel paint is so awesome that you can skip sanding or priming and jump straight into painting.

Step 4: Ready, set, paint!

Skyler and I tag-teamed this project. While he painted the doors, I worked on the cabinets. It took three coats to get the finish we wanted. We were able to complete the cabinets over the weekend, starting on a Friday afternoon and finishing Sunday evening.


  1. Keep in mind it is a very thick paint. Avoid putting too much paint on the wood surface, especially with the first and second coat! It will begin to drip and dry, creating an unwanted and bumpy texture. If this happens…don’t panic. Wait for the spots to dry and use a light grit sandpaper to smooth out the surface before adding another coat.
  2. Each coat needs to dry 4 – 6 hours, and the last coat needs to cure for up to 48 hours. Because kitchen cabinets are commonly touched surfaces, you want to let each coat dry really well before applying any additional paint. Once you’ve painted your last coat, let your cabinets and doors dry separately for at least 24 hours before adding hardware and hanging. Leave the doors open and do not touch/use them for another 24 hours. This helps prevent chips or scratches.
  3. Use a small craft brush for touch-ups. If you notice a few chips or scratches after re-attaching your cabinet doors, you probably didn’t let them fully dry (24 hours) before. If you made this mistake, like me, use a small craft brush + the enamel paint to fill in. Depending on how deep the chip/scratch, you may have to repeat this a few times.

Thanks for reading! Be sure to stay tuned to an upcoming step-by-step post on how I painted my ugly brick backsplash *wink*