How to Paint a Formica Backsplash

You must sand the Formica, or it will reject its new finish.
You must sand the Formica, or it will reject its new finish. (Image: sandpapier image by Thomas Aumann from

Formica is a cheap, waterproof material, preferred for its resistance to stains. Unfortunately, many homeowners believe its low cost is reflected in its appearance. If you would like to alter the look of your Formica backsplash, you can achieve your goal by refinishing it with the right paint. However, the same qualities that make Formica resistant to stains also make it resistant to paint adhesion. You must employ particular preparation techniques, or the backsplash will quickly shed its new finish.

Things You'll Need

  • Dish soap
  • Coarse sponge
  • Rags
  • Towels
  • 220-grit sandpaper
  • Professional painter's tape
  • Heavy-duty fabric drop cloths
  • Latex primer
  • Roller frame
  • Nap roller cover
  • 3- to 4-inch latex paintbrush
  • Satin or semi-glass latex paint

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Wash the Formica backsplash with soap, using a sponge. Rinse the backsplash with wet rags and dry it with towels.

Condition the Formica to accept paint adhesion by scouring it with the sandpaper. Sand the backsplash until it feels slightly coarse.

Protect surfaces below and adjacent to the backsplash with drop cloths and painter's tape.

Coat the sanded Formica backsplash with latex primer, using a roller. Use a paintbrush to smooth the wet primer. Allow the primed backsplash to dry for two full hours.

Wash the paintbrush with water.

Coat the primed Formica backsplash with a satin or semi-glass latex paint, using the roller. Use the clean paintbrush to smooth the wet paint. Allow the finished backsplash to dry for two hours. Apply a second coat if you can see the primer showing through.

Tips & Warnings

  • Do not prime an unabraded Formica backsplash, or the new finish will peel.
  • Do not paint an unprimed backsplash, or the finish will flake.
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