Can You Put Contact Paper Over Tile Backsplash?

Putting contact paper over a tile backsplash can provide a quick, easy, and inexpensive way to update the look of your kitchen. However, there are some important considerations to keep in mind before using contact paper in this way.

What is Contact Paper?

Contact paper, also known as adhesive paper or self-adhesive paper, is a thin plastic film or paper that has an adhesive coating on one side. It can come in a variety of colors, patterns, and finishes to suit different decor needs. Contact paper is most commonly used to line shelves, drawers, and other surfaces. It provides protection and allows you to easily change up the look of an area.

Benefits of Using Contact Paper on a Tile Backsplash

Some potential benefits of using contact paper on a backsplash include:

Quick Update

Applying contact paper can provide a fast and simple way to update the look of your backsplash without having to redo the tile. You can choose from many different contact paper designs to match your kitchen decor. It’s much quicker than retiling or painting the backsplash.

Affordable Option

Quality tile or a full backsplash replacement can be expensive. Contact paper provides a budget-friendly alternative at a fraction of the cost of new tile.

Easy Application

Contact paper is designed to be easy for DIY application. No special skills or tools are required. Just measure, cut, peel, and stick to apply.

Temporary Change

Contact paper allows you to modify the look of your backsplash temporarily. It can be removed whenever you want to change the look again or go back to the original tile.


The vinyl surface of contact paper provides a waterproof barrier that can protect the grout lines and tile surface underneath from moisture damage.

Considerations Before Use on a Backsplash

While contact paper may seem like an easy backsplash makeover solution, there are some important factors to consider first:

Surface Prep

The tile needs to be cleaned thoroughly before application to allow the adhesive to stick properly. Any grease or soap residue will prevent proper adhesion.

Texture Match

Contact paper works best on smooth surfaces. The grout lines and texture of tile can show through the paper and look unsightly over time.

Moisture Resistance

Contact paper is not designed for prolonged direct exposure to moisture. The steam, splashes, and humidity of a kitchen can cause the adhesive to fail over time.

Removal Difficulty

Taking contact paper off a textured tile surface can be challenging and time-consuming without damaging the underlying tile. Any adhesive residue also needs to be cleaned off.

Limited Durability

Contact paper is delicate and prone to ripping, especially around textured grout. It likely won’t hold up as long as other backsplash materials.

Safety Concerns

Covering old tile may conceal any cracks, damage, or mold issues instead of properly addressing them.

Tips for Application

If you decide to apply contact paper to your backsplash after considering the above factors, here are some tips:

  • Thoroughly clean and dry the entire backsplash first to maximize adhesion.
  • Carefully measure and cut the contact paper to fit your backsplash area. Take your time to get clean edges.
  • Use a plastic applicator tool and rubber squeegee to smooth the paper during application.
  • Apply vertically starting at an outer edge and work inward to avoid trapping air bubbles.
  • Use a utility knife with a sharp blade to carefully trim around outlets or edges.
  • Seal all edges with caulk to prevent moisture getting underneath.
  • Start at the bottom and overlap pieces moving up for best adhesion.
  • Expect to replace the paper periodically as humidity causes lifting over time.

Alternatives to Contact Paper for Backsplashes

If contact paper seems too risky or unsuitable for your kitchen backsplash, some alternatives to consider include:

  • Peel and stick tile: Pre-assembled, sticky-backed faux tiles designed specifically for backsplashes. More durable and realistic looking than contact paper.
  • Removable wallpaper: Like contact paper but often thicker and more water resistant. Special adhesives make removal easier.
  • Tile paint: Specially formulated paint to adhere to ceramic and porcelain. Allows you to paint over existing tile.
  • New tile: For a permanent upgrade, consider installing new tile over the existing backsplash.
  • Custom laminate: Cut-to-size plastic laminate sheets in many designs that can be applied over backsplashes.


Using contact paper on a tile backsplash is possible for a quick and affordable makeover but has some drawbacks to consider regarding surface prep, durability, and moisture resistance. With careful application and realistic expectations about its longevity, contact paper can provide a temporary way to update your kitchen’s look. For a more permanent solution, tile paint or new tile may be better options to consider.

Frequently Asked Questions About Using Contact Paper on Tile Backsplashes

Can you put contact paper over tile backsplash?

Yes, you can put contact paper over an existing tile backsplash. Contact paper is designed to adhere to a variety of smooth surfaces. However, the texture of grout lines or heavily textured tile may allow imperfections to show through the contact paper.

Does contact paper stick to tiles?

Contact paper is made with an adhesive backing so it will stick to smooth tile surfaces. For best adhesion, thoroughly clean and prep the tile first. Pay special attention to cleaning grout lines. The texture of grout and tile joints may result in the contact paper not adhering as smoothly.

Is it OK to put contact paper on backsplash?

You can put contact paper on a backsplash, but it is generally not recommended as a long-term solution. The high moisture and humidity in a kitchen can cause contact paper to peel or bubble over time. It also may be damaged by heat from cooking. There are backsplash-specific alternatives like peel and stick tile that have more water-resistant adhesives.

Can you put contact paper over existing backsplash?

It is possible to install contact paper over an existing backsplash, but the surface must be smooth, clean, and dry for the best adhesion. Contact paper works best on flat surfaces and the grout lines or uneven areas of a textured backsplash often show through. Make sure to prep the surface and carefully apply the contact paper for the smoothest results.

How long does contact paper last on backsplash?

Most standard contact paper will last between 1-3 years on a backsplash before showing signs of wear, lifting around the edges, or peeling. Factors like surface texture, exposure to moisture, and heat will impact its durability. More heavy duty removable vinyl papers or laminates may last longer. Expect to have to replace contact paper on a backsplash regularly.

What are the alternatives to contact paper for backsplash?

Some alternatives to use instead of contact paper for backsplash include peel and stick tile, removable wallpaper, tile paint, new tile, or custom laminate sheets. These options are either designed for kitchen use or provide a more permanent upgrade. For a temporary makeover, removable wallpaper is one of the best contact paper alternatives.

Is it hard to remove contact paper from tile?

Removing contact paper from a textured tile backsplash can be challenging. The grout lines make it hard to peel up the edges smoothly. It takes patience and effort to get all of the adhesive residue off the tile. Use a plastic scraper and heat from a hairdryer to help soften the adhesive as you slowly peel off the contact paper.

Does contact paper damage tiles when removed?

If appropriate care is taken when removing contact paper from tile, it should not damage the tiles. Go slowly, use the proper tools, and be patient. Hard scraping or pulling aggressively can risk chipping grout or cracking tiles. Any remaining adhesive must be cleaned to avoid buildup that is hard to remove.

How do you prepare tile for contact paper?

To prepare tile for contact paper, start by cleaning thoroughly with an alkaline tile cleaner to remove any grease, dirt and soap residue. Rinse and let dry fully. Sand grout lines to flatten. Wipe away dust. Apply a finishing sealer to porous unglazed tile. This help the contact paper adhere evenly. Go slowly applying the contact paper on tile.

Can I put contact paper over cracked tiles?

It is not recommended to put contact paper directly over cracked tiles. The adhesive will not bond well over an uneven cracked surface. The cracks could also continue to worsen under the paper, damaging the tile further. Instead, properly remove and replace any cracked tiles before installing contact paper for the best, long-lasting result.


Contact paper can provide a temporary makeover for a backsplash, but has limitations regarding texture, moisture resistance, and ease of removal. With proper prep and careful application, contact paper can be installed over existing tile backsplashes to update their look for 1-3 years until a more permanent solution is implemented. However, alternatives like peel and stick tile or wallpaper are often better options for high-moisture kitchen backsplashes.