How to Install a Peel-and-Stick Backsplash in 6 Steps

Learn how to install peel-and-stick backsplash the foolproof way

Melissa Graham
Written by Melissa Graham
Updated September 23, 2022
Big kitchen blue cabinet family table kid mom window
Photo: LUMINA IMAGES / Adobe Stock
Difficulty

Simple

Saturday skill builder.

Time to complete

5 hours

Cost

$300–$1,000

If you already own the tools, this DIY is a no-brainer.

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What you'll need:

TOOLS

  • Ruler
  • Tape measure
  • Scissors
  • Box cutter
  • Screwdriver
  • Cloth
  • Pencil
  • Cutting mat
  • Bucket
  • Saw (optional)
  • Angle grinder (optional)
  • Vinyl tile cutter (optional)
  • Drywall knife (optional)

SUPPLIES

  • Peel-and-stick tile
  • Cleaning solution
  • Cloth
  • Sandpaper
  • Lightweight all-purpose drywall compound (optional)
  • Drywall mud pan (optional)

Sometimes, it’s just time to spice up your interior design, and installing a peel-and-stick backsplash is the perfect way to transform your kitchen. This is a doable project for almost any homeowner, and you won’t break the bank. If you’re looking for a fun DIY afternoon, you might be ready to peel and stick.

Prepping for Peel-and-Stick Backsplash Installation 

Green pattern tile kitchen countertop
Photo: Ivan / Adobe Stock

The best way to ensure your peel-and-stick tile looks flawless and as close to the real thing as possible is to put a good amount of effort into preparation. From the type of tile you select to measuring and cleaning beforehand, these prep tasks can help set you up for DIY success.

You can save time, money, and hassle by opting for peel-and-stick backsplash tiles. The average cost to install a kitchen backsplash is about $15 to $40 per square foot, while peel-and-stick backsplash tiles start at about $4 per square foot and go as high as $30 per square foot, depending on the tile material. When you go with peel-and-stick tiles, you’ll save the $40 to $60 per hour in labor costs for a traditional backsplash. 

Even if you have a vision in mind, you should weigh your options because there are many imaginative ways to design your backsplash. For instance, you can opt for a simple brick design or try something fun like scallops or hexagons. 

You’ll also want to consider the type of backsplash material—there are a variety of materials you can use, such as vinyl, ceramic, glass, and metal. Just be sure to purchase a sufficient amount for the square footage of your project and a little extra to be safe. Keep in mind that peel-and-stick tiles are not as durable as traditional tiles.

  1. Prepare the Wall Surface

    This step is essential to ensure your tile looks professional and stays on for the long haul. Before you start peeling and sticking, turn off the power if you’re working close to electrical outlets, and remove any outlet covers using a screwdriver. 

    Prep the surface by sanding down any rough areas, protrusions, or old adhesive. Next, wipe down the walls with a wet cloth and dish soap and let the walls dry completely. If you have textured walls, now is the time to apply a skim coat using the drywall materials to ensure the backsplash adheres properly.

  2. Cut the Tiles

    Like contact paper for countertops, peel-and-stick tiles come in sheets. Some are interlocking, so you don’t have to cut every piece, while you’ll have to cut others into individual tiles or pieces. If you have any doubt, refer to the instructions that came with your tiles. 

    The tool you’ll need to cut the tiles will vary based on the material. For instance, you might be able to cut peel-and-stick tile with a pair of scissors or a box cutter and ruler (for a straightedge). But for other materials, like the ones below, you’ll need more specialized tools: 

    • Vinyl tile: Scissors and a vinyl tile cutter

    • Glass or ceramic tile: An angle grinder with a diamond cutting wheel and a wet saw

    • Metal clad tile: An angle grinder with an abrasive wheel 

    You’ll need to cut tile pieces to fit neatly around any outlets, windows, or cupboards. To make it easier, measure the space and cut the tile according to the measurements. 

  3. Peel Off and Apply Tiles

    It’s almost time to start tiling! First, pick a starting point on one side of the backsplash. Work from the bottom up and be consistent so your tiles line up. 

    Make it easy by using a ruler and pencil to mark on the wall where each tile will go before you start sticking. You may need to cut a straightedge on the tiles on each side of the backsplash to line up with the wall. 

    Once you pinpoint your starting place, it’s time to start sticking tiles. All you need to do is peel the paper off the back of each piece and then place the tile onto the backsplash. Press on the tiles firmly—you can use a credit card to press across and remove air bubbles—and make sure they fully adhere to the wall.

    Make sure to hold the tile by the edges, so your fingers don’t stick to the backing. Keep the sticky side away from any surface other than the one where you’re installing peel-and-stick tile. 

  4. Interlock or Align the Rest of the Backsplash Tiles

    If your peel-and-stick sheets look like mosaic tiles, you’ll need to interlock the sheets so they fit together seamlessly. Other designs will resemble traditional wallpaper; you just need to line up the pattern, place each tile where it matches, and stick it in place. Don’t forget to align the corners and continue this until you have completely covered the desired area. 

  5. Install Your Tile Around a Power Outlet

    If you’re a beginning DIYer, tiling around a power outlet may seem intimidating. However, this part of the project is as simple as measuring the outlet cover and applying those measurements to your peel-and-stick sheet. A cutting mat can make this step even easier since you can cut the sheet on top of the mat for precise measurements. 

    Note that you don’t have to account for the entire outside of the outlet cover in your measurements. The face plate for the outlet will cover up any tile that’s close to the outlet when you put it back on. 

    Once you have turned off the power to the outlet, removed the cover, and installed the peel-and-stick tile over the area, you can screw the outlet cover back on and restore power. 

  6. Seal the Backsplash

    If you want to show your backsplash some TLC, add a sealant to protect the tiles from water damage. Research the type of tile you use to determine which sealer is best. If you’d rather leave the application process to a pro, call a handyperson or a local tile installer to assist with your backsplash makeover.

Frequently Asked Questions

As long as the surface you’re putting the tile on is properly prepped, peel-and-stick backsplashes should stay on and last anywhere from 3 to 5 years. The best way to ensure the tile stays on is to sand down and clean the wall before applying your design.

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