Are Peel and Stick Backsplash Tiles Removable?

Peel and stick backsplash tiles have become an increasingly popular option for DIYers looking to upgrade their kitchens on a budget. Unlike traditional tile that requires specialized tools, expertise, and lots of time to install, peel and stick tiles can be easily applied to existing surfaces with minimal preparation.

One of the most common questions about peel and stick backsplash tiles is – are they removable? The short answer is yes, peel and stick tiles can be removed. However, the ease of removal will depend on the specific product, proper installation, and the surface they are adhered to. Let’s take a closer look at how removable peel and stick backsplash tiles are.

How Peel and Stick Backsplash Tiles Are Installed

Peel and stick backsplash tiles get their name from the adhesive attached to the back of each tile. During installation, you peel off the adhesive backing, stick the tile to the wall, and press to adhere. The adhesive is designed to form a strong bond to surfaces like existing tile, paint, drywall, laminate, etc.

But unlike permanent tile setting adhesives and mortars, the adhesive on peel and stick tiles is designed to create a semi-permanent bond. The backing is not intended to damage the underlying surface during removal. This makes peel and stick tiles a great temporary solution or for surfaces that cannot support permanent tile.

Ease of Removal Depends on Several Factors

There are several variables that will determine how easily your installed peel and stick backsplash tiles will remove, including:

Type of Product

  • Removable vinyl tiles – Vinyl tiles are specifically designed for easier removal than other materials. The backing adhesive is meant to stick but not permanently adhere. This makes vinyl tiles one of the easiest options if you know you may want to remove or relocate them.
  • Peel and stick ceramic or porcelain – While ceramic and porcelain tiles can technically be removed, the rigid material does not bend or flex as easily as vinyl. The solid adhesive backing provides a very secure bond that makes removal more difficult.
  • Peel and stick metal or glass – Like ceramic and porcelain, these rigid tiles are firmly held by the adhesive. The material does not flex which can cause tiles to crack or break during removal.

Proper Installation Techniques

How well the tiles are installed directly impacts removability. Best practices include:

  • Carefully following all manufacturer’s instructions for surface prep and application.
  • Not over-applying adhesive or using too much pressure when setting tiles. This can cause the adhesive to seep deep into the surface.
  • Avoiding over-smoothing tiles during application. The tiles should not slide from their initial placement.
  • Using proper spacers between tiles. Do not set tiles too close together.
  • Setting tiles on flat, smooth surfaces. Textured or uneven surfaces make removal harder.

Surface Material Tile Are Applied To

The base material you apply peel and stick tiles to affects bond strength:

  • Drywall and painted walls – Provide a smooth, stable surface for tile adhesive. Makes removal slightly easier than more porous surfaces.
  • Tile or laminate – Existing solid surfaces allow for clean removal if installed properly.
  • Wood and concrete – More porous than drywall, the adhesive can absorb into the surface making tiles harder to remove.

Methods for Removing Peel and Stick Tiles

If you need to remove installed peel and stick backsplash tiles, here are some methods and tips:

Start by Lifting Corners Slowly

Carefully lift up each corner of the tile and peel it back at a 45-degree angle. Take your time and apply even pressure. If it’s thoroughly bonded, you may need to use a putty knife to get under the edges.

Heat Softens the Adhesive

For stubborn tiles, try warming them up with a hair dryer or heat gun first. Heating softens the adhesive which makes it easier to peel off. Be very careful using heat on flammable surfaces.

Chemical Solvents Break Down Adhesive

Adhesive remover sprays or Goo Gone help break the bond between the tile and surface. Apply a solvent-soaked rag at the tile edges and let it soak in before removal. Wear gloves and use solvents in a well-ventilated area.

Dental Floss Cuts Through Adhesive

Work dental floss under the tile and saw back and forth across the adhesive. The thin floss can slice through the glue layer without damaging the surface below.

Paint Covered Surfaces May Need Touch-Ups

Even with careful tile removal, paint may come off in spots. Be prepared to spot prime and paint areas after getting tiles off. Use painter’s tape at tile edges during installation to protect painted edges.

Repair Drywall Damage Before Redecorating

Removing peel and stick tiles can sometimes pull off chunks of drywall paper or joint compound beneath the tile. Fix any remaining damage before applying new backsplash materials.

Key Considerations Before Installing Peel and Stick Tiles

While peel and stick backsplash tiles are designed to be removable, getting them off without surface damage still requires care and patience. Before installing, think about:

  • The specific tile material you choose and how prone it will be to cracking or breaking during removal.
  • How long you plan to keep the tiles up. Longer installation times mean stronger adhesive bonds.
  • The effort needed to prep the area after removing tiles – like repainting or drywall repair.
  • Testing a single tile on your surface before doing the whole project.
  • Considering other options like decorative self-adhesive papers or wall decals if you know you’ll remake the space often.

With proper planning and by following best practices for installation and removal, peel and stick backsplash tiles can be an effective temporary decor option. Just be realistic about the work needed to remove them without causing surface damage or leaving adhesive residue behind. Taking your time and having the right tools is key for getting these popular tiles off easily.

Frequently Asked Questions About Removing Peel and Stick Tiles

Can I remove peel and stick tile without damaging the wall?

It is possible to remove peel and stick tiles without wall damage if done carefully. Go slow, use heat and solvents to soften adhesive, and be prepared to touch up paint or drywall. Vinyl tiles remove easiest. Porous surfaces and rigid tiles often have more wall damage.

Do peel and stick tiles leave adhesive on the wall?

Some adhesive residue is common with peel and stick tile removal. Try solvents and scrapers to remove excess glue. For heavy residue, repainting or re-prepping the surface may be needed for new backsplash materials to properly adhere.

Should I replace drywall rather than trying to remove tiles?

If the tiles have been up for years or improper removal damages the drywall severely, replacement may be better than extensive repairs. But for minor damage, skim coating or spot repairs are suitable for most surfaces after tile removal.

What is the easiest way to remove peel and stick mosaic sheets?

Peel off mosaic sheets starting in a corner. Use a blow dryer or heat gun to warm and soften the adhesive before slowly lifting away. Dental floss works well to cut adhesive on these thin sheets. Be prepared to patch drywall or repaint afterwards.

Can I re-use peel and stick tiles once removed?

Most peel and stick tiles can only be used once. The backing adhesive is spent after the initial use so tiles won’t adhere as strongly the second time. Some vinyl options with thicker, reusable adhesive backings can be repositioned but check manufacturer guidelines first.


Peel and stick backsplash tiles offer a convenient and budget-friendly way to refresh your kitchen’s look. Their removable adhesive backing makes installation a snap. But while removable, peel and stick tiles still require careful technique when taking them off walls. Consider the prep and repairs needed afterward to avoid being left with a bigger project than you started with. With the right tools, materials, and patience, peel and stick tiles can safely be removed and replaced.