Can Wallpaper be Used as a Backsplash?

Benefits of a Wallpaper Backsplash

There are several advantages to choosing wallpaper for your backsplash:

More Affordable than Tile

Wallpaper is generally less expensive than ceramic or stone tile. Even higher-end wallpaper is typically cheaper than quality tile when you factor in labor costs for installation. This makes it a budget-friendly backsplash option.

Easier to Install

Installing wallpaper is much simpler than tile. It can be applied right over existing surfaces without extensive prep work. No need to remove old backsplash material or do complex tile cutting. This makes wallpaper a good option for DIY installation.

Customizable Style

Wallpaper comes in a huge range of colors, prints, and textures. From bold graphic prints to intricate flocking, wallpaper offers limitless possibilities to create a customized backsplash look. Match your kitchen or bath style from modern to traditional.

Easier to Change

If you tire of your backsplash or want to refresh the look, wallpaper can be removed and replaced more easily than tile. This allows you to modify your backsplash easily when remodeling or redecorating.

Seamless Look

Wallpaper creates a continuous backsplash surface free of grout lines that can get grimy. The pattern flows smoothly across the entire backsplash space for a clean, seamless aesthetic.

What Types of Wallpaper Work for Backsplashes?

While regular wallpaper may work in some backsplash applications, it’s best to choose a wallpaper made specifically for kitchens and bathrooms. Look for:

Washable and Scrubbable

Backsplash wallpaper should have a vinyl or acrylic coating so it can be easily wiped clean. Scrubbable coatings resist stains from grease, water splashes, and grime.


Kitchen and bath wallpaper should be formulated to withstand moisture and humidity without peeling, wrinkling, or growing mold.

Commercial/Contract Grades

Opt for commercial or contract grade backsplash wallpaper that meets fire codes and federal specs for performance and durability.

Pre-pasted Options

Pre-pasted wallpaper has an adhesive coating that activates with water. This makes installation much easier than unpasted paper.

Popular brand options include Chasing Paper, Tempaper, Spoonflower, Murals Your Way, and Hygge & West. Look for prepasted, scrubbable papers designed specifically for backsplashes.

Preparing the Surface for Wallpaper Backsplash

Proper surface prep is vital for successful wallpaper application. For backsplashes:

  • Clean the surface thoroughly and fill any holes or imperfections with spackle. Allow to dry completely.
  • Lightly sand glossy surfaces to aid adhesion.
  • Wipe away all dust with a clean, damp cloth. Let dry completely.
  • Apply a smooth coat of quality wallpaper primer and let it dry. This gives the wallpaper a uniform surface to adhere to.
  • Follow the wallpaper manufacturer’s additional recommendations for surface prep and primers.

How to Install Wallpaper Backsplash

Installing wallpaper on a backsplash is similar to traditional wallpapering but on a smaller scale. Follow these steps:

Step 1: Measure Space

Measure the backsplash area and cut the wallpaper to the proper length, allowing for pattern repeat and excess for trimming.

Step 2: Prep Backsplash Surface

Make sure backsplash area is clean, smooth, primed, and dry per surface prep instructions.

Step 3: Apply Adhesive

If using unpasted paper, apply wallpaper adhesive evenly over the backsplash surface area.

Step 4: Hang Wallpaper

Align wallpaper at top of backsplash and smooth onto surface working from top to bottom. Remove air bubbles and excess adhesive. Use a wallpaper smoother to press paper flat.

Step 5: Trim Excess Paper

Use a sharp utility knife and ruler to neatly trim off excess wallpaper at edges and around outlets.

Step 6: Seal Seams

Use wallpaper seam adhesive to seal edges and seams so moisture cannot seep behind the paper.

Let wallpaper dry fully per manufacturer directions before using backsplash area.

Wallpaper Backsplash Maintenance Tips

To keep your wallpaper backsplash looking fresh:

  • Avoid applying cleaners, chemicals, or abrasives directly to wallpaper surface.
  • Clean gently using mild dish soap, warm water, and soft sponge or microfiber cloth. Don’t scrub too roughly.
  • Immediately wipe up any splatters or spilled liquids to prevent stains.
  • Check for loose edges or openings along seams and re-seal if needed to prevent moisture infiltration.
  • Avoid steam from teakettles or appliances directly on wallpaper. It can loosen adhesive.
  • Reapply a fresh coat of wallpaper seam sealer every 1-2 years.

With proper installation and maintenance, a wallpaper backsplash can last 5 years or longer before needing replacement.

Attractive and Practical Wallpaper Backsplash Ideas

Wallpaper opens up lots of possibilities for backsplash designs from charming to contemporary. Some top options include:

Graphic Pattern Prints

Bold graphic prints like geometric shapes or Moroccan patterns create visual impact. They hide stains and coordinate with all color schemes.

Faux Subway Tile

Faux subway tile wallpaper offers the look of classic ceramic tile in any color. Great for traditional or cottage kitchens.

Peel and Stick Papers

Removable peel and stick wallpaper allows easy application and replacement. Good for rentals or temporary upgrades.

Nature Motifs

Subtle leafy trails, flower vines or woodgrain textures bring calming natural elegance. Perfect for casual, farmhouse or rustic decors.

Textured Looks

Flocked wallpaper with a velvety finish or embossed leather, stone and wood effects add striking and tactile dimension.

With the right wallpaper choice, you can create a backsplash that complements your overall kitchen or bath design scheme beautifully while also being highly functional.

FAQs About Wallpaper as a Backsplash

Can you use any wallpaper as a backsplash?

It’s best to choose wallpaper made specifically for high-moisture areas like kitchens and baths. Look for vinyl-coated, scrubbable papers designed for backsplashes. Regular wallpaper may not withstand moisture and cleaning.

How long does wallpaper backsplash last?

With proper installation and maintenance, a quality vinyl wallpaper backsplash can last around 5 years or longer before needing replacement. Avoid moisture damage and you can extend the lifespan.

Is wallpaper backsplash cheaper than tile?

Yes, in most cases wallpaper is significantly less expensive than tile. The wallpaper itself costs less per square foot. Installation labor is also cheaper since applying wallpaper is easier and faster than installing tile.

Can you put wallpaper backsplash in bathroom?

Yes, moisture-resistant wallpaper made for kitchen backsplashes can also be installed in bathroom backsplash areas around sinks, tubs and showers. Just be diligent about preventing prolonged moisture exposure.

Can wallpaper backsplash be cleaned?

Look for vinyl, acrylic-coated wallpapers marketed as scrubbable and washable. Use mild soap and water to spot clean. Avoid abrasive scrubbing. Check manufacturer cleaning recommendations.


Wallpaper offers a stylish, cost-effective alternative to traditional tile backsplashes. Modern vinyl wallpaper designed specifically for kitchens and bathrooms is durable, easy to install, and available in endless colors and prints to match your decor. With proper prep and care, a wallpaper backsplash can be a beautiful, functional accent that upgrades your living space.