Kitchen backsplashes serve both aesthetic and functional purposes. Beyond just protecting the wall behind a countertop or range from water damage and stains, they can add visual interest, color, and style to a kitchen. Traditionally, backsplashes were made from ceramic tile or natural stone, but in recent years, stick on backsplashes have emerged as a popular alternative. But are stick on backsplashes any good compared to traditional backsplash materials? Here is an in-depth look at the pros, cons, costs, and effectiveness of stick on backsplashes.
What Are Stick On Backsplashes?
Stick on backsplashes, also called peel and stick backsplashes, are thin sheets of material that have an adhesive backing which allows them to be applied directly to the wall surface. The most common materials used for stick on backsplashes are:
- Plastic – Typically made from PVC, plastic stick on backsplashes are waterproof and low maintenance. They come in glossy or matte finishes.
- Metal – Aluminum and stainless steel are two metals used for stick on backsplashes. They have a sleek, contemporary look.
- Glass – Glass stick on backsplashes can be clear, colored, or even mirrored. They create a stylish backdrop.
- Stone – Thin slices of real stone like marble, granite, or slate are adhered to a mesh backing for stone stick on backsplashes.
- Fabric – Woven, embroidered, or printed fabric with an adhesive backing functions as a backsplash. Provides a soft look.
Stick on backsplashes come in tile, plank, or sheet formats from 6 inches to 4 feet wide. Thicknesses range from 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch. Many feature decorative designs, textures, or patterns. Installation involves peeling off the backing and pressing onto a cleaned wall surface. Some may require additional adhesive.
Pros of Stick On Backsplashes
There are several advantages that stick on backsplashes offer compared to traditional backsplash materials:
Ease of Installation
One of the biggest pros of stick on backsplashes is how quick and easy they are to install. Since they have a self-adhesive backing, the installation process is straightforward. Just measure, cut, peel, and stick. This makes them a great DIY project for homeowners. Tiling a backsplash requires more skill and labor to get it perfectly lined up and grouted.
Stick on backsplashes are significantly less expensive than ceramic tile, natural stone, glass, or metal backsplashes. Plastic options can cost as little as $1 per square foot. Even stone and metal stick on backsplashes cost $5 per square foot or less. Tiling runs $5-25 per square foot just in materials, not including labor.
Large, Seamless Pieces
Tile backsplashes have grout lines that can get dirty and discolored over time. Stick on backsplashes are available in large, seamless sheets, avoiding this issue. Fewer seams give a smoother, cleaner appearance.
Stick on backsplashes can be installed over the course of just a few hours compared to tiling which can take multiple days with drying time. This reduces kitchen renovation time significantly.
Variety of Looks
From reflective glass to natural stone to embroidered fabrics, stick on backsplashes offer endless design possibilities. Even pattern and texture options mimic tiles for a classic look. This visual versatility suits many styles.
Easy to Clean
Most stick on backsplash materials like plastic, glass, and metal can be wiped clean with just mild soap and water. No need for special grout cleaners. This makes maintenance easy and convenient.
Removable and Reusable
If you later want to change the look, stick on backsplashes can be easily peeled off without damaging the wall. Many are reusable so you can move them to another area or reinstall them in the future.
Cons of Stick On Backsplashes
However, there are some downsides to be aware of with stick on backsplashes:
Potential to Peel or Bubble
If adequate adhesive is not used or the wall surface is not properly prepped, stick on backsplashes can begin to peel at the edges or form air bubbles underneath over time. Proper installation is key.
Thin stick on materials are inherently less durable than thicker, natural backsplash materials. Stick on backsplashes can become damaged by sharp objects and are harder to repair than tile.
Difficult Around Outlets
Cutting stick on backsplashes precisely around electrical outlets, switches, and fixtures requires great care. Gaps may be visible. Tiling allows for adjustments around these areas.
Limited Heat Tolerance
While metal options can withstand high heat, other stick on materials like plastics and fabrics are prone to warping or discoloring when exposed to direct heat sources. Not ideal behind ranges.
Some stick on products just don’t emulate stone, metal, or glass convincingly. Lower-quality options may appear obviously artificial upon close inspection.
Prone to Water Damage
The seams between stick on backsplash panels are vulnerable, allowing water to penetrate behind the material and damage the drywall if not properly sealed.
Tile backsplashes have grout lines that create visual depth and interest. The flat, smooth surface of most stick on backsplashes lacks this dimension.
Residue Upon Removal
When removing stick on backsplashes, they may leave behind adhesive residue that requires scraping and cleaning. Tiled backsplashes come off cleaner.
While stick on backsplash pros often outweigh the cons for many homeowners due to the convenience and cost savings, it’s important to weigh both when deciding what works best for your kitchen.
Cost Comparison of Stick On vs Tile Backsplashes
One of the biggest factors when choosing a backsplash is the cost. Here is an overview of price differences:
- Plastic stick on backsplash – $1 to $5 per square foot
- Peel and stick tile – $5 per square foot
- Metal stick on backsplash – $5 to $10 per square foot
- Glass mosaic tile – $10 to $15 per square foot
- Ceramic tile – $5 to $25 per square foot
- Natural stone tile – $15 to $50 per square foot
- Professional installation – $6 to $10 per square foot
While stick on backsplash products are sold in complete kits with all materials included, tile requires numerous additional purchases – the tiles, grout, backerboard, thinset adhesive, grout sealer, and tiling tools. Excluding labor, stick on backsplash material costs are about a third less than an average tile project. Factoring in professional installation rather than DIY tiling widens the price difference substantially.
Are Stick On Backsplashes Waterproof?
A key function of any backsplash is protecting the wall from moisture and spills. Are stick on materials as waterproof as tile? It depends. Here are the basics:
- Plastic, metal, and glass stick on backsplashes are waterproof and can stand up to splashes and spills.
- Stone veneer stick on backsplashes resist moisture but liquid can seep through the seams and damage drywall if not properly sealed.
- Fabric backsplashes are prone to absorbing moisture. They should be limited to dry areas only.
- Any stick on backsplash material can allow water ingress if gaps or bubbling occur at panel edges. Careful installation is crucial.
- Tile backsplashes are inherently waterproof when properly grouted and caulked. The grout provides sealing between tiles.
In terms of water resistance, plastic, glass, or metal stick on backsplashes rate similarly to tile when installed correctly. Stone and fabric versions are better suited for low-moisture backsplash areas. Ensuring seams are watertight is key.
Do Stick On Backsplashes Look Cheap?
Many assume that stick on backsplashes appear cheap or fake next to higher-end tile, but that is not necessarily the case. Tile-look stick on options combined with quality materials like real metal, glass, or stone closely emulate the visual style and texture of tiled backsplashes.
When shopping, focus on these factors for a seamless look:
- Thicker material – At least 1/8 inch thickness avoids a flimsy appearance.
- Minimal seams – Large format panels with few seams look most natural.
- Matte finish – Glossy finishes can look obviously synthetic.
- Textured surface – Visual depth hides the stick on material.
- Dark grout lines – Mimics real tile grout color.
- Precision cuts – Accurate work around outlets removes gaps.
- Metallic materials – Real metal best replicates a tile look.
With careful product selection and proper installation, quality stick on backsplashes can be virtually indistinguishable from tile backsplashes, providing the same high-end appearance at a fraction of the cost.
Can You Remove Stick On Backsplashes?
One advantage of stick on backsplashes is that they can be removed fairly easily since they are attached with adhesive rather than grout, thinset, nails, or screws. Here is how to remove them:
- Use a hair dryer or heat gun to heat the stick on backsplash. This helps soften the adhesive.
- Slowly peel up a corner and gently pull off at a 90 degree angle. Take care not to rip the backing.
- As you peel, continually heat with the hair dryer to make removal easier.
- Use a plastic putty knife to scrape off any adhesive residue left behind.
- Clean the wall area with an all-purpose cleaner once finished removing.
Most standard stick on backsplash panels can be successfully taken off the wall without damage, especially when careful heating is used in the process. This allows the space to be refreshed with new materials down the road. However, some adhesives are extremely stubborn so there is a small risk of surface damage. Proper sealing is necessary when reinstalling to achieve the same tight bond.
Are Stick On Backsplashes Good for Resale?
Many homeowners considering stick on backsplashes wonder how they will affect resale value compared to more permanent materials like tile. Here are important considerations:
- Use high quality materials – Real metal, stone, or glass come closest to mimicking tile.
- Maintain them well – Keep them free of damage, peeling edges, and bubbling.
- Install properly – Ensure adequate adhesion and sealing, especially at seams.
- Use neutral colors – Versatile shades like white and grey appeal to buyers.
- Pair with nice finishes – Quartz counters and stainless appliances offset a budget backsplash.
- Highlight other upgrades – Draw the eye to new floors and cabinets.
The key is ensuring the stick on backsplash still looks fresh and well-installed at resale. Done right, a stick on backsplash can still be a selling point over a dated, worn tile backsplash. But inferior materials that appear obviously fake or compromise water protection likely detract value compared to new tile. Overall, stick on backsplashes are a quick, affordable way to give a kitchen an updated, polished look that appeals to buyers without breaking the bank.
Can You Paint Over Stick On Backsplashes?
Tiling a backsplash in a new color requires going through the whole process of removing existing tile, preparing the wall, and installing fresh tile. But one of the advantages of stick on backsplashes is that they can be easily adapted by simply painting over the existing material. Here are tips for painting stick on backsplashes:
- Only paint plastic, metal, glass, or sealed stone backsplashes. Fabric would absorb paint.
- Lightly sand any shiny surfaces to allow the paint to adhere better.
- Clean the backsplash thoroughly and allow to dry completely before painting.
- Apply two to three thin, even coats of 100% acrylic latex paint.
- Use an angled brush for grout line details and mini foam roller for large areas.
- Allow each coat to dry fully before adding another.
- Seal the final painted surface with a clear acrylic sealer.
With the right prep and products, you can paint right over an existing stick on backsplash to give it a fresh new color palette. This is much faster, easier, and more affordable than a full tile replacement.
Are Stick On Backsplashes Durable and Easy to Clean?
Cleaning is an important consideration for backsplashes which are prone to splatters, grease, and fingerprints. Here is how stick on backsplash materials compare:
- Plastic and glass stick on backsplashes clean up easily with warm soapy water and microfiber cloths. Avoid harsh chemicals.
- Metal may show water spots but can be wiped clean. Stainless steel polish removes fingerprints and restores shine.
- Stone veneer requires sealing to prevent stains. Use pH-neutral cleaner and avoid acidic products.
- Most fabrics can be lightly sponged with diluted detergent then air dried but are generally less stain-resistant.
- Tile is very durable and stain-resistant when sealed properly. Grout may require occasional scrubbing.
Stick on backsplash durability depends on material, but plastic, glass and metal versions stand up well to daily wear and tear, steam, grease, and moisture when properly installed. Simple maintenance keeps them looking like new. Just take care not to use cleaners that could etch glass or damage protective finishes.
Should You Install Stick On Backsplashes Vertically or Horizontally?
Stick on backsplash panels can be oriented vertically or laid horizontally for different visual effects:
- Vertical – Directs the eye upwards, making the space feel taller. Vertical lines also convey a more contemporary, sleek look.
- Horizontal – Gives a wide, expansive feeling that showcases the length of the countertops. Has a more traditional appeal.
- Subway Style – Running a geometric, brick, or subway-style pattern either vertically or horizontally adds classic dimension.
- Vary Orientation – Mixing vertical and horizontal panels can create decorative interest. Use vertical near the range and horizontal near cabinets.
- Follow Countertops – Installing vertically with quartz runs that have vertical veining establishes harmony.
There are no hard rules. Tiling vertically or horizontally comes down to aligning with cabinetry lines, pairing well with countertops, and achieving your desired style. Combining orientations and layout patterns adds character.
Do Stick On Backsplashes Work Around Outlets and Switches?
Working around electrical boxes while achieving a seamless application is one of the trickiest parts of installing stick on backsplashes. Here are tips for success:
- Purchase an outlet/switch cover plate extender to lower the box flush to the wall. This allows backsplash panels to lay flat over top.
- For large gaps around boxes, cut pieces of the stick on backsplash material to size and adhere inside the gaps for a streamlined finish.
- Alternatively, use coordinating caulk that matches the backsplash color to fill any spaces surrounding outlets and switches.
- Take care when cutting backsplashes to size around outlets and switches so edges lay neatly against boxes.
- Consider hiring an electrician to relocate outlets and switches above the planned backsplash height for the most seamless application.
With careful planning and precision cutting, outlets and switches can blend right into your stick on backsplash design. Extenders, fill pieces, caulk, and professional electrical adjustments are useful solutions.
Do Stick On Backsplashes Hold Up Against Heat and Moisture?
Kitchen backsplashes must withstand heat from stoves and ovens along with near-constant exposure to steam, oil, grease, and water. How do stick on backsplash materials compare?
- Plastic options warp under high heat and moisture. Not ideal behind ranges.
- Metals like stainless steel and aluminum are heat-resistant and waterproof.
- Natural stone can tolerate heat but requires sealing for water protection.
- Glass is very durable and seamlessly wipes clean but can crack if heated too quickly.
- Fabrics absorb moisture and are prone to staining, limiting use to low-heat areas only.
- Ceramic tile endures heat and moisture well when properly sealed and caulked.
Overall, metal stick on backsplashes perform best under temperature extremes, moisture levels, and daily kitchen wear and tear. Stick with these or tile if installing behind appliances. In lower-use areas, plastic and stone may suffice.
Can You Install Stick On Backsplashes Over Existing Tile?
Adding a backsplash is a great way to update an outdated kitchen without a full remodel. And with stick on backsplash products, installation over existing tile is definitely possible. Here’s how:
- Remove any cracked, damaged, or loose grout. Re-grout if needed to create a smooth surface.
- Thoroughly clean and degrease the existing tile then let dry fully. Rough up the glaze lightly.
- Apply a skim coat of embossing leveler over the tile and let dry completely to create a smooth, even base.
- Use a heavy-duty construction adhesive designed for high weight and humidity. Apply evenly.
- Press the stick on backsplash firmly into place, smoothing from the middle outward.
- Use a J-roller over the entire surface to maximize adhesive contact and squeeze out air pockets.
With proper prep and adhesive, existing kitchen tile can be covered in a fresh new backsplash instantly. Just ensure all adhesive has fully cured before exposing to moisture to prevent delamination or bubbling issues.
Stick On vs Peel and Stick Backsplashes: What’s the Difference?
The terms “stick on backsplash” and “peel and stick backsplash” are often used interchangeably. But technically:
- **Stick on