Can You Use Contact Paper as a Backsplash?

Using contact paper as a backsplash can be a quick, easy, and affordable way to update the look of your kitchen. Here is a detailed guide on using contact paper for backsplashes, including pros and cons, preparation tips, application instructions, and maintenance recommendations.

What is Contact Paper?

Contact paper, also known as self-adhesive paper or adhesive paper, is a decorative covering paper that has an adhesive backing. It comes in various patterns, textures, and colors. Contact paper is inexpensive, easy to apply, and can be easily removed without damaging surfaces underneath. This makes it a popular option for temporary kitchen backsplashes.

Pros of Using Contact Paper for a Backsplash

There are several benefits to using contact paper for your backsplash:


Contact paper costs a fraction of the price of tile, stone, or metal backsplash materials. Prices typically range from $10-$30 for a roll, depending on the size and pattern. This makes it very budget-friendly.

Easy Application

Applying contact paper only requires measuring, cutting, peeling and sticking. No special tools or skills are needed. It’s a DIY-friendly material that’s far easier to work with than tiles or panels.


Contact paper can be easily removed when desired, without damaging the wall underneath. This makes it great for rentals or temporary upgrades. Tile or stone would be permanent and require repair work if removed.

Variety of Looks

Contact paper comes in endless colors, patterns, finishes and textures. There are options to mimic tile, wood, marble, stone and more. This allows you to customize the look you want.

Quick Update

With simple application directly onto existing surfaces, contact paper can transform the look of a backsplash in just a few hours. No demolition or installation work is required.

Cons of Using Contact Paper for a Backsplash

There are also some downsides to keep in mind:

Temporary Solution

Contact paper will not last as long as tiles or other permanent materials. It may start peeling or wearing over time, requiring replacement every few years.

Moisture Issues

The adhesive backing is not very moisture resistant. Excess water and steam can seep under edges and cause bubbling or peeling issues over time.

Visible Seams

It can be tricky getting full sheets lined up perfectly without any overlap or gaps between pieces. Seams may be visible on certain patterns.

Smoothing Bubbles

Air pockets and bubbles can appear underneath during application. You must carefully smooth out any wrinkles and bubbles as you apply.

Prone to Damage

Contact paper can be prone to rips, peels and punctures from knives or sharp objects, especially around sinks and stoves. Tile or metal would be more durable.

Preparing Walls for Contact Paper Backsplash

Proper wall prep is crucial for getting great results. Here are some tips:

  • Clean thoroughly to remove grease, dirt and residues using degreasing cleaners. Rinse and let dry fully.
  • Smooth any rough patches with sandpaper. Fill larger holes/cracks with spackle and let dry fully.
  • Prime walls with a heavy-duty primer to improve adhesion. Let primer dry fully before applying paper.
  • Measure space and create a planning diagram to determine how many rolls you need and where seams will fall.
  • Cut out holes where outlets, switches or fixtures are located using an utility knife.

How to Apply Contact Paper Backsplash

Follow these steps for proper application:

Step 1: Prepare First Piece

  • Unroll a portion of the contact paper on a flat surface with the adhesive side facing up.
  • Use a utility knife and ruler to cut a piece to size for the first section.
  • Cut edges should be smooth to reduce visible seams.

Step 2: Affix First Piece

  • Peel away a few inches of backing and align to wall. Press firmly in place.
  • Slowly peel away more backing as you smooth piece onto wall. Avoid air bubbles.
  • Once aligned, use a smoothing tool to adhere entire piece.

Step 3: Affix Remaining Pieces

  • Cut each additional piece to size needed based on your planning diagram.
  • Butt each new piece directly against previous piece, being careful not to overlap seams.
  • Follow same peel and stick process, smoothing as you go to prevent bubbles.
  • At outlets, switches or fixtures, carefully cut around them to fit paper neatly against edges.
  • Smooth all seams and edges with rubbing alcohol and smoothing tool to seal.

Caring for a Contact Paper Backsplash

To get the longest lifespan from contact paper:

  • Avoid using harsh abrasives near the backsplash when cleaning. Use soft cloths and mild cleaners.
  • Immediately dry any areas that get wet to prevent water seepage and bubbling issues.
  • Take care not to puncture or slice the paper when cooking or doing kitchen work near it.
  • Reapply seam sealant if you notice any edges or seams beginning to lift or peel.
  • Be prepared to replace the backsplash every 2-3 years as finishes start wearing and lifting over time.
  • When removing, peel up carefully starting at a corner edge. Go slow to avoid tearing off chunks of drywall.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does contact paper last as a backsplash?

On average, contact paper will last 2-3 years before needing replacement from scratches, peeling edges or wearing of the adhesive. Proper application and care will help extend its lifespan.

Does contact paper for backsplashes have to be one full sheet?

No, it’s very rare to find contact paper wide enough to cover a whole backsplash in a single sheet. It’s meant to be applied in multiple strips carefully lined up to avoid overlap seams.

What contact paper patterns work best for backsplashes?

Stone, brick, wood plank, and arbitrary patterns or textures hide seams best. Busy patterns like glazed tile are harder to line up perfectly seamless in multiple strips.

Can I apply contact paper directly over existing tile?

This is not recommended. Gaps and grooves between existing tiles will likely cause air pockets and imperfections under the contact paper. Best to apply to smooth primed wall surfaces.

Is it cheaper to install a backsplash or use contact paper?

Contact paper is significantly cheaper, with material costs averaging $10-$30 depending on size of space. Professionally installing tile or other permanent backsplash materials typically costs anywhere from $500 to well over $1000.


Installing contact paper can be an inexpensive, easy upgrade to quickly change the look of a kitchen backsplash. With the right prep work, careful application, and maintenance it can serve as a temporary solution. However, for a more permanent finish consider installed tile, metal or stone backsplash materials. But for short-term upgrades on a budget, contact paper can be just what you need to give your kitchen a mini makeover!