How to Apply Peel and Stick Backsplash


Installing a peel and stick backsplash is an easy and affordable way to update the look of your kitchen or bathroom. Peel and stick backsplashes come in a variety of materials like vinyl, metal, or ceramic tile, and are pre-cut into panels that you simply peel off the backing and stick to the wall.

A peel and stick backsplash can completely transform the aesthetic of a room without the mess and labor of traditional tile installation. In just an afternoon, you can install a stylish new backsplash that looks like it was professionally done. With a few basic tools and these step-by-step instructions, you’ll learn how to properly prep your surface, cut panels to fit, and install a peel and stick backsplash that will last for years to come.

How to Apply Peel and Stick Backsplash

Step 1: Choose Your Peel and Stick Backsplash Style and Prepare Your Workspace

The first step is to choose the material, color, and style for your new peel and stick backsplash. Options include:

  • Vinyl: Most affordable option with widest range of colors and patterns. Easy to wipe clean.
  • Metal: More modern look in materials like stainless steel, copper, or aluminum.
  • Tile: Mimics look of real ceramic or stone tiles. Most realistic option.
  • Glass: Sleek and shiny glass tiles for a modern style.

Once you’ve selected your backsplash, make sure you have a clean workspace. Clear the countertops and sweep the floor. Have a step stool handy so you can reach the entire backsplash area comfortably.

Step 2: Clean and Prepare the Backsplash Area

Proper surface prep is crucial for your peel and stick backsplash to adhere correctly. Follow these steps:

  • Remove existing backsplash if there is one. Scrape off any leftover tile adhesive.
  • Wash the backsplash area thoroughly with soap and water. Rinse and let dry completely.
  • Sand glossy surfaces lightly with 150 grit sandpaper so the peel and stick adhesive can grip properly. Wipe away any dust.
  • Fill any cracks, holes, or uneven sections with caulk or spackle. Let dry completely.
  • Prime the surface with primer designed for tile/vinyl backsplash panels. This helps the adhesive stick better.

With the surface prepped, you can start installing your peel and stick backsplash!

Step 3: Plan Your Layout

Having a layout planned ahead of time will make the installation go smoothly. Here are some tips:

  • Measure: Measure the height and width of your backsplash area and sketch out a layout. Most peel and stick panels are around 10 inches square or in 4 x 12 inch rectangles, so plan your rows accordingly.
  • Outlets: Note any outlets on your plan and cut panels to fit around them.
  • Start point: Decide if you want the edges or center of the backsplash to be the focal point and plan the layout symmetrically.
  • Overlaps: Panels should overlap by 1/4 inch or according to manufacturer’s recommendation.
  • Cuts: Minimize small sliver strips by adjusting panel edges. Some products have finishing edge pieces which conceal cuts.

Step 4: Cut the Peel and Stick Backsplash Panels

Once your design is mapped out, it’s time to cut the panels to size.

  • Use a utility knife and metal ruler to measure and score vinyl or tile panels. Snap along score line.
  • For metal backsplash panels, use aviation snips. Measure and clamp a straightedge guide to ensure straight cuts.
  • Cut pieces to outline any outlets in the backsplash area.
  • Set aside small leftover pieces to use at edges or as filler.

Work on a flat, protected surface to keep the panels from getting scratched.

Step 5: Peel Off Backing and Apply Adhesive

With your materials cut, it’s time to prep them for installation:

  • Carefully peel away the backing from each panel about 1/3 of the way. Don’t remove the entire backing yet.
  • Apply a thin layer of liquid adhesive on the back of the exposed section, spreading evenly with a notched trowel.
  • For metal backsplash, apply adhesive pads per manufacturer instructions.

The adhesive will help secure the panels firmly to the wall.

Step 6: Stick Panels to the Wall

Now for the fun part – installing your stunning new backsplash!

  • Starting in a top corner, peel the backing fully off the first panel and press firmly onto the wall. Apply even pressure across the panel.
  • Slowly peel off backing and stick remaining panels from top to bottom and side to side.
  • Ensure panel edges are butted up tight or overlapped based on layout plans.
  • Use small filler pieces as needed to fill any gaps. Trim excess.
  • Roll over entire surface with a wallpaper roller or rubber grout float to ensure strong adhesion.

Take your time during installation and smooth any bubbles or wrinkles as you go.

Step 7: Seal Edges and Finish Outlets

To complete your peel and stick backsplash, finish it off with these final steps:

  • Caulk all seams and edges with a matching silicone caulk. Wipe away excess.
  • Reinstall any outlets removed during installation.
  • Put trim plates or finishing pieces over outlets and cut edges for a seamless look.
  • Allow adhesive to cure fully per manufacturer instructions before using backsplash.
  • Clean any excess adhesive with mineral spirits and enjoy your stylish new backsplash!

With proper prep and care during installation, your peel and stick backsplash can provide many years of easy-clean function and beauty in your kitchen or bath.

Tips for Installing Peel and Stick Backsplash

Follow these tips and tricks for a successful project:

Use Proper Adhesive

Choose the adhesive recommended by the manufacturer. Typically a heavy duty latex or silicone construction adhesive works best. Improper adhesive can lead to panels not sticking or peeling over time.

Prepare the Surface Properly

Rough, glossy, greasy, wet, or uneven surfaces will prevent panels from adhering correctly. Spend time prepping the area so the adhesive bonds tightly.

Avoid Overworking Adhesive

Don’t spread adhesive too thin or over-manipulate it once on the wall. This can weaken the bond before panels are applied.

Work Top to Bottom

Always start panels in the top corner and work down. This prevents slippage, allows adhesive to cure progressively, and eliminates drips on previous rows.

Use a Roller

Roll over the entire surface with heavy pressure when finished to smooth any remaining bubbles and ensure all panels are firmly adhered.

Check Dimensions

Walls are often uneven. Continually measure and dry fit panels to ensure proper fit before installing. Be prepared to make adjustments.

Seal Edges

Run a bead of silicone caulk along all seams and edges, especially near lower cabinets. This waterproofs the installation and provides a finished look.

Frequently Asked Questions About Peel and Stick Backsplashes

How long does a peel and stick backsplash last?

With proper installation and care, a quality peel and stick backsplash can last 3-5 years or longer before needing replacement. Avoid moisture damage, heavy impacts, and excess cleaning to maximize durability.

Can you put peel and stick backsplash over existing tile?

In most cases, yes. Thoroughly prep the existing tile by cleaning and lightly sanding for the best adhesion. Check for any failing grout or tile damage first.

What adhesive is best for peel and stick backsplash?

Always consult the manufacturer’s recommendations. Typically a high quality latex or silicone construction adhesive works best. Avoid multipurpose glues which may not bond well long-term.

How do you cut peel and stick backsplash?

Use a sharp utility knife and metal ruler to score and snap vinyl or tile. For metal backsplashes, aviation snips provide clean cuts. Take precautions to avoid scratching.

Should outlets be removed before installing backsplash?

Yes, outlets in the backsplash area should be disconnected and removed prior to installation. This allows full coverage and a seamless application. Trim and reinstall outlets over panels when finished.

Can you use peel and stick backsplash in a shower or tub surround?

Most peel and stick products should not be installed directly behind or around a tub/shower as moisture will damage adhesive. Use traditional tile or waterproof panels instead.

How do you attach upper cabinets over a backsplash?

Pre-drill through the backsplash panels into studs to secure upper cabinets. Use washers on screws to prevent tearing the material. Liquid nails or construction adhesive also helps adhere cabinets.

Can you apply peel and stick backsplash over painted drywall?

Yes, painted and primed drywall provides an ideal surface for application. Lightly sand glossy surfaces and wipe away dust/debris. Ensure paint is cured before applying panels.

What’s the easiest backsplash to install?

Peel and stick vinyl and tile backsplashes are the easiest to install thanks to the self-adhesive backing. No messy mortar or grout required. Just measure, peel, stick, and finish.


Installing a peel and stick backsplash is one of the easiest ways to quickly and affordably upgrade the look of any kitchen or bathroom. With the right materials, proper planning, and careful installation, you can achieve beautiful results and avoid common mistakes. Use this comprehensive guide to confidently tackle a peel and stick backsplash project from start to finish. The transformed space will bring you joy for years to come.