Using vinyl floor tiles as a backsplash in your kitchen or bathroom can be a creative, budget-friendly solution, but there are some important considerations to keep in mind. Here is a detailed guide on whether vinyl floor tiles will work for your backsplash and how to install them properly.
What are Vinyl Floor Tiles?
Vinyl floor tiles, also known as vinyl composite tiles (VCTs), are affordable, durable, and easy to install. They consist of colored polyvinyl chloride (PVC) chips layered on top of fiberglass backing. The wear layer on top provides stain and scratch resistance.
Vinyl tiles come in a wide range of colors, patterns, and finishes, like stone, wood, and concrete. The most common size is 12 x 12 inches, but some product lines have larger 18 x 18 inch tiles. Thicker vinyl tiles of 2.5 mm or higher are recommended for backsplash use.
Pros of Using Vinyl Floor Tiles for Backsplash
Cost – Vinyl tiles are an inexpensive alternative to ceramic or glass backsplash tiles. Prices start at around $0.50 per square foot.
Easy Installation – The tiles are peel and stick, requiring no special skills or tools to install. This makes them a good DIY project.
Durability – The vinyl surface is waterproof and resists stains, moisture, and mold. This makes it ideal for kitchen backsplashes.
Design Options – Vinyl tiles come in countless colors, finishes, and patterns. You can create a customized look.
Easy Maintenance – The wipeable surface just needs occasional cleaning with a damp cloth and mild detergent.
Cons of Using Vinyl Floor Tiles for Backsplash
Not Heat Resistant – Unlike ceramic or porcelain, vinyl will melt under high heat. The tiles cannot be used behind or near cooking surfaces like ranges or ovens.
Prone to Scratches – The vinyl wear layer can get scratched or nicked over time, compromising its waterproofing.
Lacks Texture – Vinyl tiles have a smooth, uniform appearance without the natural grout lines and texture of real stone or tile.
Off-Gassing – Some vinyl tiles emit small amounts of VOCs during initial installation. This decreases over time.
Not for Wet Areas – Vinyl is waterproof but should not be used in showers or other wet wall locations. Humidity can still damage the adhesive over time.
Preparing and Cleaning the Surface
Proper prep work is crucial before installing vinyl tile backsplash. Follow these steps:
- Remove existing backsplash and scrape away any remaining adhesive.
- Fill any holes or uneven spots with spackle and sand smooth.
- Clean the surface thoroughly with a degreaser to remove residue. Rinse and let dry completely.
- Wipe down with denatured alcohol to prep the area for maximum adhesion.
How to Install Vinyl Floor Tiles on Backsplash
Step 1. Measure the backsplash area and draw plumb lines to ensure your first row of tiles will be straight. Plan the tile layout to minimize small cut pieces at edges.
Step 2. Cut the vinyl tiles as needed with a utility knife and straightedge. For corner joints, overlap tiles for a cleaner look.
Step 3. Apply adhesive suitable for vinyl tile according to manufacturer instructions. Spread evenly using a notched trowel.
Step 4. Press tiles firmly into place, working from the center outward and adjusting alignment as needed. Roll over with a rubber hand roller.
Step 5. Continue laying row by row of tiles. For best adhesion between tiles, use plastic tile spacers at edges while the adhesive sets.
Step 6. At wall edges, press trim molding into place to cover any gaps between tiles and wall. Caulk along the top and bottom edges for a finished look.
Step 7. Wipe away excess adhesive and allow to fully cure for 24-48 hours before use.
Tips for Maintaining Vinyl Tile Backsplash
- Immediately clean spills to avoid staining, using damp cloth and mild soap.
- Re-apply caulk along edges if gaps appear to prevent moisture entry.
- Avoid abrasive scouring pads or harsh cleaners which can scratch surface.
- Protect from heat damage by not placing hot pans directly on backsplash surface. Use trivets.
- Periodically apply vinyl floor polish/finish to renew protective layer against scratches.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can vinyl floor tiles be used in the shower or other wet areas?
No, vinyl floor tiles are not suitable for direct water contact or wet wall locations like showers. The humidity can still damage adhesive over time. Use waterproof ceramic tile instead.
How long does the installation take?
Installing a full backsplash with vinyl stick-on tiles takes 2-3 hours for an average sized kitchen. The main time is in proper prep and precise tile cutting.
Should the tiles be sealed after installation?
Sealing is not necessary for vinyl tiles. They have a durable, wear-resistant vinyl surface. But you can apply vinyl floor polish occasionally to renew the protective layer.
What about grout – should vinyl backsplash tiles be grouted?
Vinyl tiles do not require grouting. In fact, you don’t want to grout vinyl since the tiles need to be able to expand/contract. Leave a small gap between tiles.
Can you paint vinyl backsplash tiles to change the color?
Technically you can paint vinyl tiles with specially formulated vinyl paint. But it’s challenging to get paint to properly adhere and risks damaging the tiles over time. Replacing them is recommended instead.
Installing vinyl floor tile as a backsplash can be an inexpensive and user-friendly option if done properly, but has limitations in high heat and wet areas. Follow all preparation, installation, and care instructions carefully. With realistic expectations of vinyl’s pros and cons, it can provide an attractive, budget-friendly backsplash solution. Be sure to check the tile specifications and warranty to determine if vinyl is suitable for your specific backsplash location and needs.