A blog about the restoration, remodel and renovation of a 1929 Chicago-style brick bungalow

Backsplash Breakthrough

While I was buying the paint for the kitchen, I mentioned my backsplash problem (Swedish flag blue and yellow using bathroom tiles) to the sales clerk. She steered me toward a water-based paint called Breakthrough!, made by Vanex Color, Inc. of downstate Mt. Vernon, IL. There is not much information on the web for this product and it’s a shame, because it has done a great job covering up the PO’s decorating disaster. Just look at the before-and-after:


The paint can be tinted to any color. I wanted to tone down the backsplash, so I chose a beige that matched the countertops and older appliances. Because we will eventually be renovating the kitchen, I wasn’t too concerned with whether or not the grout lines were covered with the paint. And since this was a temporary fix, I also wasn’t too concerned with etching the tile for better adhesion. I tried to scratch the surface on some leftover tiles that I used for a test but it was impossible to do, and the paint seemed to adhere very well anyway. So the only thing I did before painting was wash the tile with TSP substitute, which is supposed to degloss the surface, although it didn’t seem to make any difference.

The paint went on very easily — —I used a 4″ foam Whizz Roller with Breakthrough’s high gloss paint and it dried super fast. It can be used on other surfaces as well, such as concrete, and is rust- and stain-resistant.

If you want to avoid the eggshell texture (see photo below), you’ll have to use a brush. On my test tiles I used a foam brush and it did a pretty good job of smoothing out the brush strokes. I painted it quickly, so with the proper brushes and care you may be able to completely eliminate brush strokes.

Now I’m thinking about using it in the bathroom. If I paint only the yellow tiles, it shouldn’t be too time-consuming. And an all blue-and-white bathroom I can deal with—at least I’d have some options as far as accent colors go.


  1. Nate on September 18, 2007 at 11:02 pm

    Wow, what a difference! Once those tiles were toned down (way down) you can see how really nice your wall color selection is. Good stuff!

  2. denise on September 27, 2007 at 1:07 pm

    Thanks Nate—it’s definitely very satisfying to make (relatively simple) transformations like this; looking forward to seeing them on your place too!

  3. Anna on September 30, 2007 at 6:14 am

    That looks great Denise! We used that kind of paint in our former house to cover up extremly ugly tiles in the kitchen (dark green and brown) and it turned out very nice, too. I don’t really understand why only few people seem to use that paint – it is so much easier than re-tiling!

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