Can You Put Peel and Stick Backsplash Over Wallpaper?

Installing a new backsplash can instantly update the look of your kitchen or bathroom. Peel and stick backsplashes provide a simple and affordable way to get this look, without the mess and labor of tiling. But can you install peel and stick backsplash over existing wallpaper?

Overview: Is It Possible to Install Peel and Stick Backsplash Over Wallpaper?

Yes, it is possible to install a peel and stick backsplash directly over existing wallpaper. However, there are some important considerations to keep in mind:

  • The wallpaper must be in good condition, tightly adhered to the wall with no lifting edges or bubbles. Peel and stick backsplash will not hide flaws.
  • Glossy or heavily textured wallpaper can create adhesion issues. The backsplash may not stick properly.
  • Dark wallpaper colors can show through lighter backsplashes, creating an undesirable effect.
  • Over time, seams between wallpaper strips may become visible on the backsplash.

With proper wallpaper selection and preparation, a high-quality peel and stick backsplash can be successfully installed over wallpaper. Proper planning and installation techniques will ensure long-lasting results.

What to Look for in Wallpaper Under a Backsplash

When considering installing peel and stick backsplash over wallpaper, the existing wallpaper needs to meet these criteria:

Good Condition

The wallpaper must be well-adhered to the wall with no lifted seams, bubbles, wrinkles, or tears. Any of these flaws will likely show through the backsplash. Damaged areas must be repaired or replaced.

Matte Finish

Glossy or heavily textured wallpaper can prevent proper adhesion of the backsplash. Lightly textured, matte finishes generally work best.

Neutral, Light Background

To prevent the wallpaper pattern or color from showing through, opt for a neutral background color that matches or is lighter than the backsplash. Dark wallpaper shades can create an obvious visible contrast under lighter backsplash colors.

Quality Installation

Backsplash over wallpaper works best when installed over high-quality wallpaper with seams that are tightly bonded together and indistinguishable. Low quality installation with obvious seams will likely show through over time.

Smooth Surface

Deeply embossed wallpaper textures will telegraph through the backsplash. Choose a wallpaper with a relatively smooth finish.

With attention to these details, an existing wallpapered wall can provide a suitable surface for a peel and stick backsplash.

Preparing Wallpaper for Peel and Stick Backsplash

Once you have determined the wallpaper is in suitable condition for backsplash installation, proper preparation is essential:

Clean the Wallpaper

Use a mild cleaner and warm water to thoroughly clean the wallpaper, removing any grease, soap residue, or grime that could interfere with adhesion. Allow the wallpaper to fully dry.

Repair Flaws

Fix any loose seams, air bubbles, wrinkles, or other flaws in the existing wallpaper. Use wallpaper seam adhesive and a seam roller to secure loose seams. Inject wallpaper adhesive beneath bubbles and wrinkles and then flatten with a smoothing tool.

Prime Over Repairs

Lightly prime over any repaired areas on the wallpaper with a primer designed for wallpaper. This helps seal repairs and provides a uniform surface. Allow primer to dry completely.

Rough Up Glossy Surfaces

If the wallpaper has a glossy finish, use 150 grit sandpaper to lightly scuff the surface. This helps the backsplash adhesive grip. Avoid sanding through the wallpaper finish. Wipe away dust.

Apply Adhesion Promoter

For best results, apply a wallpaper adhesive promoter to the wallpaper surface where the backsplash will be installed. Allow to dry per manufacturer’s directions.

With the wallpaper properly prepped, it will provide the smooth, well-bonded surface needed for successful peel and stick backsplash installation.

Tips for Installing Peel and Stick Backsplash Over Wallpaper

Here are some handy tips to ensure proper application of peel and stick backsplash over wallpaper:

Follow Manufacturer’s Instructions

Carefully read and follow the installation directions provided with the backsplash product. Every brand may have specific requirements.

Use a Premium Adhesive Backsplash

Opt for a backsplash product with premium adhesive that specifically indicates it can bond to wallpaper. Avoid low-tack options.

Use a Wallpaper Knife

Use a sharp wallpaper knife to cut the mesh backing from the backsplash during installation. This prevents tearing the wallpaper beneath.

Take Precise Measurements

Measure carefully and use level lines to ensure the backsplash is positioned precisely. Peel and stick backsplash cannot be easily repositioned if aligned incorrectly.

Use a J-roller

Apply firm, even pressure with a J-roller across the entire surface of the backsplash during installation and after completion. This helps ensure strong adhesion.

Seal Edges

Apply clear silicone caulk along top and side edges of the backsplash to seal and prevent moisture from getting beneath.

With proper products and techniques, peel and stick backsplash can install beautifully over wallpaper. Follow all preparation and installation best practices.

Common Questions about Peel and Stick Backsplash Over Wallpaper

Many homeowners have additional questions about successfully installing peel and stick backsplash over existing wallpaper:

Does wallpaper need to be primed before installing backsplash?

Priming before backsplash installation is not mandatory but can promote better adhesion, especially if repairs were needed. Use an appropriate wallpaper primer.

Do I need to remove wallpaper before installing backsplash?

As long as the wallpaper is in good condition and properly prepped, removal is not necessary. Backsplash can be applied directly over wallpaper.

Can textured wallpaper be used under backsplash?

Light texture is fine but deep embossing may show through. Opt for a fairly smooth wallpaper finish for best results.

What about acrylic-coated wallpaper – can backsplash stick to it?

The acrylic coating on some wallpapers is formulated for maximum durability and adhesion and is acceptable for use under backsplash.

Is it okay if old wallpaper seams show through backsplash over time?

Unfortunately, some seams may become visible over time, depending on quality of wallpaper installation. Properly glued seams should minimize this.

Can I install larger format peel and stick backsplash tiles over wallpaper?

Larger format tiles can often be too heavy for wallpaper adhesion. Stick with smaller mosaic sheets or standard sized tiles.

With the right wallpaper in good condition, proper prep, and careful application, peel and stick backsplash can create a beautiful new look over existing wallpaper. Use premium quality products and follow all manufacturer’s instructions for successful results.

Professional Installation for Peel and Stick Backsplash Over Wallpaper

While installing peel and stick backsplash over wallpaper can definitely be done as a DIY project, for some homeowners, hiring a professional may be the best option:

Expert Prep Work

A professional installer will thoroughly examine the existing wallpaper and make any needed repairs to ensure a smooth, well-bonded surface for backsplash application.

Proper Adhesives

The installer will have specialized adhesives designed to firmly adhere the backsplash tiles to the wallpaper. Proper adhesion prevents future failure.

Precise Installation

Professional training and tools allow installers to precisely measure and level the backsplash installation, preventing mistakes that can ruin the finished look.

Manufacturer Approved

Many backsplash product manufacturers require certified professional installer training to maintain the product warranty.

Total Project Management

The contractor handles the entire project from inspection and prep, through final cleanup and caulking. There’s no hassle for the homeowner.

While professional installation does add to the total cost, it provides peace of mind and the highest quality finished results when installing peel and stick backsplash over existing wallpaper.

Considerations Before Installing Peel and Stick Backsplash Over Wallpaper

Peel and stick backsplash can transform the look of your kitchen or bath quickly and easily. However, keep these final tips in mind before installing it over existing wallpaper:

  • Carefully inspect wallpaper condition and test adhesion first. Repair any needed flaws.
  • Make sure wallpaper pattern and color will not negatively impact the finished look.
  • Prepare wallpaper surface thoroughly – clean, scuff, and use adhesive promoter.
  • Have realistic expectations. Wallpaper seams or texture may show over time.
  • Consider hiring a professional installer if uncertain about achieving proper adhesion.
  • Use only high-quality backsplash products made for use over wallpaper.

With proper planning and preparation, peel and stick backsplash can install beautifully over existing wallpaper, providing fast and dramatic results. Follow all best practices for long-lasting quality and enjoyment of your updated space.

Can You Put Peel and Stick Backsplash Over Wallpaper? – Your FAQs Answered

Installing a peel and stick backsplash over existing wallpaper is a popular DIY project for quick kitchen or bathroom updates. But it also raises lots of questions. Here are helpful answers to the most frequently asked questions about applying peel and stick backsplash tile over wallpaper.

What Type of Wallpaper Works Best Under Peel and Stick Backsplash?

The best wallpaper for backsplash installation has these characteristics:

  • Smooth surface – Deeply textured wallpaper can show through backsplash. Go for a flatter, lighter texture.
  • Matte finish – Glossy wallpaper is hard for backsplash adhesive to grip. Matte or eggshell finishes are best.
  • Light solid color – Dark and patterned wallpaper could negatively impact look. Stick with light neutrals.
  • Good condition – No lifting edges or bubbles. Securely adhered to wall. Repair any flaws.
  • Quality installation – Seams perfectly bonded. No gaps or overlaps. Sloppy seams will eventually show through.

Can You Put Peel and Stick Backsplash Over Wallpaper With An Acrylic Coating?

Many premium wallpapers feature an acrylic-based protective coating. This coating is formulated to provide stronger adhesion for the wallpaper itself. An acrylic wallpaper surface generally provides an appropriate foundation for application of peel and stick backsplash.

How Do You Prepare Wallpaper for Peel and Stick Backsplash?

To prep wallpaper for backsplash installation:

  • Clean thoroughly with mild soap and water, rinse. Allow to fully dry.
  • Repair any seam gaps, bubbles, loose areas using wallpaper adhesive.
  • Lightly sand high-gloss finishes to rough up the surface.
  • Use primer over repaired patches to even out porosity.
  • Apply wallpaper adhesion promoter prior to backsplash installation.

Should Wallpaper Be Primed Before Installing Peel and Stick Backsplash?

Priming before backsplash installation is not mandatory but can improve adhesion. Use a high-quality primer formulated for wallpaper rather than standard drywall primer. Allow primer to fully dry before applying backsplash.

Do You Need to Remove Wallpaper Before Installing Peel and Stick Backsplash?

Removing wallpaper prior to backsplash installation is not necessary as long as the wallpaper is:

  • In good condition with no lifting or bubbles
  • Securely adhered to wall surface
  • Properly prepped and cleaned

Fully removing wallpaper is time-consuming and messy. Prepping it to remain provides a suitable surface in most cases.

Can Peel and Stick Backsplash Tiles Be Removed from Wallpaper?

Peel and stick backsplash can be difficult to remove from wallpaper without damaging it. The adhesive is designed to form a long-lasting bond. Try gently heating with a blow dryer to soften adhesive while slowly peeling off tiles. Be prepared to rewallpaper if damage occurs.

Will Seams Show on Peel and Stick Backsplash Over Wallpaper?

Over time, the seams in the underlying wallpaper may begin to show through the backsplash, depending on quality of original wallpaper installation and thickness of backsplash material. To minimize this, ensure wallpaper seams are tightly bonded and smooth during prep.

Is Peel and Stick Backsplash Over Wallpaper a Temporary Solution?

Peel and stick backsplash over wallpaper can provide a long-lasting finished look, not just a temporary fix. However, it likely won’t last as long as backsplash tiled directly onto drywall. Follow all preparation and application instructions carefully for maximum durability.

Is Peel and Stick Backsplash Waterproof?

Peel and stick backsplash tiles typically consist of a waterproof plastic vinyl surface layer. However, the material itself is water resistant rather than 100% waterproof, especially at joints and edges. Proper installation and sealing is important to prevent moisture penetration over time.

Can You Use Grout with Peel and Stick Backsplash?

Peel and stick backsplash consists of self-adhesive tiles so no grout is required. In fact, grout could interfere with proper adhesion and should not be used. Some options have built-in grout lines to provide the look of grouted tile without actual grout.

Installing peel and stick backsplash over carefully prepped wallpaper can give you the upgraded backsplash look you want without removing the existing wallpaper. Follow all preparation and installation best practices for successful results.

Installing Peel and Stick Backsplash Over Wallpaper – Step-by-Step

If you have existing wallpaper in good condition, installing new peel and stick backsplash tile over it can save the hassle and mess of complete wallpaper removal. Here is a step-by-step guide to properly preparing wallpaper and installing backsplash for a successful project.

Step 1: Inspect and Repair Wallpaper

Examine the wallpaper closely for:

  • Lifting edges or loose areas
  • Bubbles or wrinkles
  • Ripped or missing pieces
  • Gaps along seams

Use wallpaper adhesive to re-secure any loose spots. Inject adhesive beneath bubbles and flatten with a smoothing tool. Carefully cut out any damaged sections and patch with wallpaper inserts or touch up with acrylic wallpaper repair compound.

Step 2: Clean Wallpaper Surface

Use a general purpose cleaner and warm water to wash the entire wallpaper surface where backsplash will be installed. Avoid harsh cleaners which could damage wallpaper. Rinse thoroughly and allow to completely dry.

Step 3: Rough Up Glossy Wallpaper

If existing wallpaper has a glossy or semi-gloss finish, lightly sand the surface using 150 grit sandpaper. This roughens up the finish for better backsplash adhesion. Avoid sanding through the top coat. Wipe away all dust.

Step 4: Apply Patch Primer

Use a small brush or sponge applicator to spot prime any repaired or sanded areas, especially seams, with wallpaper primer. This creates a uniform surface profile and porosity for backsplash installation. Allow primer to dry fully.

Step 5: Apply Adhesion Promoter

To help create a tenacious bond between the backsplash adhesive and wallpaper surface, apply a thin coat of wallpaper adhesion promoter using a paint roller over the entire area getting backsplash. Allow to dry fully.

Step 6: Cut Backsplash Tiles

Measure the space and use a utility knife with fresh blades to precisely cut full backsplash sheets to fit. For mosaic sheets, cut borders and spacer strips that frame edges as needed using sharp snips.

Step 7: Dry Fit Layout

Before peeling off any adhesive backing, do a dry layout by placing tiles onto the wall without adhering them. Check for proper fit and alignment. Make any adjustments before permanent application.

Step 8: Apply Backsplash

Once layout is set, peel off adhesive backing and firmly press tiles into place on the wall, working in small sections. Use a J-roller or grout float to apply even pressure across all surfaces, edges, and seams.

Step 9: Seal Perimeter

Use clear silicone caulk to seal around top and side edges of the installed backsplash. This helps prevent moisture from seeping underneath. Carefully smooth caulk for an attractive finish.

Follow these key steps for a successful peel and stick backsplash installation over existing wallpaper. Take time to properly prepare the wallpaper surface for best results.

Peel and Stick Backsplash Over Wallpaper: Do’s and Don’ts

Installing peel and stick backsplash over existing wallpaper expands your design options. But there are some definite do’s and don’ts to heed for success:


DO use wallpaper with a smooth, matte finish.

DO select a wallpaper style and color that coordinates with the backsplash design.

DO make sure the wallpaper is tightly bonded to the wall before application.

DO thoroughly clean wallpaper and apply an adhesion promoter before installation.

DO carefully plan the layout and make precise cuts before applying backsplash tiles.

DO firmly roll all backsplash surfaces after application to maximize adhesion.

DO seal all edges with waterproof caulk to prevent moisture penetration.

DO seek professional help if unsure about proper installation techniques.


DON’T install backsplash over wallpaper that is damaged, bubbled or lifted from the wall.

DON’T use glossy or heavily textured wallpaper. It can inhibit adhesion.

DON’T attempt to reposition tiles once applied – adhesion is immediate.

DON’T use grout or sealant products between backsplash seams or gaps.

DON’T expect backsplash installation to hide or disguise underlying wallpaper flaws.

DON’T rush the job or take shortcuts on preparation or application.

Following the do’s and don’ts will help ensure your peel and stick backsplash over wallpaper installation stays beautiful for years to come. Take time to properly inspect and prepare the existing wallpaper first.

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