How to Install Peel and Stick Backsplash on Textured Walls

Peel and stick backsplash tiles provide a quick and easy way to refresh your kitchen or bathroom without the mess and labor of traditional tile. But installing them on textured walls takes a bit more preparation and technique to ensure they adhere properly. With some simple steps, you can achieve a beautiful new backsplash on your textured walls in no time.

Assessing Your Textured Walls

The first step is to take a close look at the existing texture on your walls to determine what type it is and how heavily textured it is. Here are some of the most common types of wall textures:

Knockdown texture: This very common texture has a lightly bumpy, orange peel type texture. The bumps are larger than orange peel and more rounded.

Popcorn texture: This texture has a very bumpy almost cottage cheese type appearance with lots of rounded bumps. It can range from fine and dense to thick and heavy.

Skip trowel texture: This texture is created by dragging a trowel over smoothing plaster in an arc type motion. It leaves grooves and ridges across the surface.

Orange peel texture: As the name suggests, this texture resembles the bumpy exterior of an orange. The bumps are low profile and rounded.

Smooth wall: Although not technically a texture, some walls have no texture and are just a flat smooth surface.

Take note if your walls have heavy textures like popcorn or deep skip trowel that will require more smoothing and preparation. The lighter the texture, the easier the install will be.

Cleaning and Priming

Once you’ve assessed the wall texture, it’s time to clean the walls and apply primer:

  • Give the walls a thorough cleaning with an all-purpose cleaner and water to remove any dirt, grease or residue. Allow to fully dry.
  • Lightly sand any high points or bumps in heavier skip trowel textures to smooth and flatten them out. Wipe away dust.
  • Apply a coat of high quality multi-surface primer to the entire area where you’ll be installing the backsplash. This helps the tiles adhere.
  • Allow primer to dry completely before installing tiles. The waiting time on the primer will be indicated on the product label.

Priming provides an even blank slate for the peel and stick tiles to adhere to. For best results, use a spray primer formulated specifically for tile and masonry surfaces.

How to Install on Light Textures

For smoother walls or lightly textured orange peel or knockdown walls, the installation method is fairly straightforward:

  • Make sure the wall is clean, dry and primed.
  • Map out your tile layout and pattern. It’s best to start in the center and work outward. Measure and level.
  • Cut any specialty edge pieces as needed. Use tin snips for mosaic tiles.
  • Peel off the backing paper and press the tile firmly into place on the wall. Go slowly and adjust as needed.
  • Use a small hand roller or the back of a spoon to apply even pressure across the entire tile.
  • Continue installing tiles row by row using spacers for even grout lines. Work methodically to avoid gaps.
  • Use a razor blade to trim or shave off excess tile along the edges.
  • Seal grout lines with silicone caulk that matches the grout color. Wipe away excess.

The key things to remember are to work slowly, apply even pressure, and use the razor blade for a precise trim. The lighter texture allows the tiles to grab easily.

Preparing Heavier Textures

For more pronounced textures like heavy popcorn or deep skip trowel, the wall will need some smoothing and flattening before installing the tiles:

  • Clean and prime the textured wall as discussed earlier. Allow to fully dry.
  • Apply a thin skim coat of smoothing plaster or drywall joint compound over the entire surface using a trowel.
  • Feather out the edges and keep the layer smooth yet thin enough to not lose the texture.
  • Allow skim coat to dry fully. Lightly sand any bumps or ridges.
  • Prime again over the smoothed skim coat layer. Allow to dry fully.
  • Once dry, the wall should have a smoother flattened base but still retain some of the underlying texture.
  • Install peel and stick tiles as normal, using extra pressure to adhere the tiles firmly to the surface.

The skim coating creates a more uniform surface for the tiles to grab onto while still keeping some of the textural aesthetic. Take your time with the smoothing for best results.

Tips for Applying Tiles on Texture

Here are some helpful application tips when installing peel and stick backsplash tiles on textured walls:

  • Use a hand roller, spoon or tile smoothing tool to firmly adhere the entire tile surface and push out any air pockets.
  • For recessed grout lines, use a razor blade to trim excess tile and prevent uneven tile edges.
  • If the tiles won’t stick in certain spots, apply a bead of clear silicone and press tile firmly in place.
  • On difficult areas like popcorn texture, apply a thin coat of mortar first then press tiles into the mortar.
  • Cut mosaic sheets into smaller sections to make smoothing on texture easier.
  • Avoid using grout, which can crack and fall out of recessed texture. Use silicone sealant instead.
  • Take your time and adjust as you go, pulling up and reapplying tiles as needed.

Proper pressure and using the right tools and methods for your texture can ensure a long-lasting peel and stick installation.

Maintaining the Backsplash

Caring for your new textured wall backsplash takes just a few simple steps:

  • Use a soft microfiber cloth and mild soap and water to clean the tiles. Avoid harsh chemicals.
  • Re-apply fresh silicone sealant if cracks appear in grout lines. Smooth with fingertip.
  • For damaged tiles, heat with a hair dryer to soften adhesive then gently peel off and replace.
  • Check for loose tiles lifting up and re-adhere them by scraping off old adhesive and adding new.
  • Limit moisture exposure behind the backsplash to prevent adhesive breakdown.
  • Re-apply grout as needed to fill any gaps that develop over time.

With proper installation techniques and occasional maintenance, peel and stick backsplash tiles can look beautiful on your textured walls for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you put peel and stick backsplash over existing tile?

Yes, it is possible to install peel and stick backsplash tiles over existing tile. The key is proper surface prep – clean the tile, rough up the surface with sandpaper, and apply a coat of primer or mortar before applying the new tiles.

How long does peel and stick backsplash tile last?

With proper installation and care, peel and stick backsplash tiles generally last 3-5 years. Heavier use areas may show wear sooner. Using quality tiles and maintaining the grout and sealant helps extend the life.

Should you seal peel and stick backsplash tiles?

Sealing is not necessary for peel and stick tiles but can provide added protection especially for grout lines. Use a water-based sealant formulated for vinyl tiles and avoid sealants containing solvents that could damage the adhesive. Apply 2-3 thin coats.

Can you apply peel and stick tile over painted drywall?

Yes, these tiles can be installed over interior painted drywall. For best adhesion, sand the paint lightly to scuff the surface, then clean and apply a coat of primer before installing the backsplash tiles.

Do peel and stick tiles damage walls when removed?

Peel and stick tiles should not damage most wall surfaces when removed, if done properly by heating the adhesive to loosen. Still, there is a possibility of surface damage if the adhesive is very stubborn. Limiting moisture exposure helps prevent permanent bonding.


Installing peel and stick backsplash tile on textured walls simply takes some additional preparation and care in application. With the right products, tools and techniques for your specific wall texture, you can achieve a beautiful upgraded backsplash on textured surfaces in your home. Just remember to thoroughly clean and prime the surface, apply pressure and use a hand roller to smooth the tiles, and take care when removing and maintaining them. With some patience and the right approach, your new peel and stick backsplash can provide a quick yet durable upgrade over textured walls.