The Unbiased Truth about Peel and Stick Tiles
Recently we had a surge of customers asking what our thoughts were on peel and stick tile.
For someone on an extremely limited budget or someone in a rental property self-adhesive wall tile might seem like a great idea. Just stick the stuff up there and then take it down when you move or when you’re tired of it.
We’ve seen quite a bit of the peel and stick backsplash tiles and peel and stick floor tile over the years on different jobs. We’ve also talked with quite a few customers about the pros and cons so let’s answer some of the common questions about whether they’re a good option.
An interview with a pro about peel and stick tile
Q – Would you say installing “smart” tiles is a good choice for the homeowner?
Ron – I know it seems like a great idea. Just peel and stick and voila! You have yourself a brand spanking new back splash.
But the truth is there are several issues that I have seen come up over and over again.
One issue I saw was in a rental property. A renter had used peel and stick tile backsplash over drywall thinking they could be removed when they left.
They removed them all right but they also completely destroyed the drywall which then had to be repaired before new tile could be installed adding an unnecessary and expensive step.
Q – What about going over old existing tile with peel and stick?
Ron – This really does seem to be the best scenario but even still you’re going to have a huge job on your hands getting all the adhesive off when it’s time to remove them.
Also, very few kitchens are perfectly square in every inside or outside corner so installing around an “off” corner can throw the level of the tile off. Not cool having tile that’s un-level in your kitchen. They often call the peel and stick tile “smart tile” but in this case it’s really not so smart.
Q – What about the peel and stick flooring, or luxury vinyl tile – pro’s and cons?
Ron – I have demoed a ton of that type of tile and I will tell you what happens with it over time. First of all, the adhesive often breaks down. Then you have tiles popping up, or loose.
It’s really challenging to install self-adhesive vinyl tiles completely tight. If you have even the slightest gap in between the tiles dirt WILL collect in those gaps over the years and there is no way to get it out. I have pulled out some pretty disgusting stuff.
I would say the only plus to the so-called luxury vinyl tile, is seen in the look of a new floor the first month after installation. After that, it isn’t pretty.
See our post: 7 point checklist for starting a bathroom remodel
Q – If someone still wanted to install the peel and stick tiles what kinds of tools or supplies are needed?
Ron – I get that there are situations and budgets that may merit this type of tile installation.
My most important tip would be to be sure to properly prep the wall. I can’t stress this enough. Many people find the adhesive doesn’t stick well and the tiles fall off so be sure to prep the wall.
Even if you think your walls are clean there’s always grease in every kitchen or even bathroom so really scrub that wall. Same is true for an adhesive floor tile installation.
Are you left with no other options?
If your funds are super limited, and you just really want to dress up a certain area. It’s true, in that case, the peel and stick tiles may be the best option.
This would be true if you want more than just color through paint, and you need something easier to clean than straight paint such as behind a sink or behind a stove (though they are not recommended behind a gas stove).
If that is your situation, then please only consider these few products that we have personally seen installed. They actually look good and aren’t too challenging to install.
While they aren’t tile, they don’t look too cheezy.
Use a grease-cutting cleaner like Dawn dishwashing detergent, or TSP.
Also, if you’re installing self-adhesive wall tile don’t paint the wall and then immediately install tile. The paint needs time to cure for at least a month. Otherwise, those tiles are just going to fall off.
Tools that you will need for smart tile installation:
- Wash your wall with Dawn or TSP or this cleaner.
- Smooth out heavily textured walls first with this – heavy texture will read through. Allow time for curing.
- Collect all of your tools before you start.
- Have a VERY sharp knife – like this one.
- Use Tile nippers for the Mother of Pearl tile backsplash.
- Use spray adhesive on the wall first when using in a humid or warm area.
- Try to reposition the tiles – once they’re on they’re on.
- Paint or prime right before installing – paint must thoroughly cure.
- Use near a gas stove or fireplace.
- Think this is going to look just like tile.
An upgraded alternative
Something else you may want to look into is Peel and Stick Tile that is actually glass tile with a sticky adhesive backing.
Try ordering a sample here and see what you think.
Though these are more expensive, in the end, you will have a MUCH nicer look.
They aren’t trying to be something that they will never be.
A Note of Caution
Keep in mind though that these still are not waterproof. If you’re thinking of putting them near a sink, or any wet area, you may want to use either a clear silicone caulk like this one, or a non-sanded grout like this one, to make sure that you don’t get any moisture in between the tiles, which can then cause the adhesive to break down over time.
Use the caulking in between each tile as a grout “substitute”. Also, run a bead of caulk along the top to keep any moisture from penetrating down into the tile adhesive from above.
And, of course, the same rules apply for this tile as the other peel and stick – your wall must be perfectly smooth and primed to adhere properly.
The installation on these is going to be slightly more involved than the peel and stick sheet tiles. You are going to need to have a tile cutter to do the job. That is unless your measurements work out precisely for whole tiles all the way across and you line up the grout lines instead of staggering the grout lines.
If you have electrical outlets you will have to cut the tiles to fit around them.
Tools that you will need for installation:
- Tile nippers or a tile saw
- A Sanding pad for dulling down sharp glass edges
- Thick gloves
- TSP for cleaning the wall first
- Chalk Line
- Caulk – Either clear or white to waterproof or get a “grouted” look
- Tape Measure
- Straight edge
Why not try a DIY tile project yourself?
Save some money on installation costs, find a REAL tile that you like and install something that will last.
As far as tile projects go, installing a backsplash is really one of the easiest.
You can find thousands of how to videos on YouTube. If your kitchen isn’t huge you can probably get it done in a weekend.
For the DIY’er I recommend that they head over to Lowe’s or Home Depot and look for a larger tile. Backsplash tiles with tiny piece are a pain in the butt, even for experienced tile installers. You might think that mesh on the back of the tile makes installation a breeze but that’s not the case – trust me on this one.
Rent a tile saw from either Home Depot or Lowe’s for a minimal charge and you’re good to go. You’ll be so glad you make the investment in something that will last and that will add to the value of your home not subtract.
If you decide your not the DIY type – then feel free to contact us here at Tile With A Smile🙂