How to Install Peel and Stick Kitchen Backsplash

Installing a peel and stick kitchen backsplash is an easy and budget-friendly way to update the look of your kitchen. With just a few tools and a bit of time, you can transform your existing backsplash or bare wall into a stylish focal point. Here is a step-by-step guide to installing a peel and stick backsplash in your kitchen.

Choose the Right Peel and Stick Tiles

There are many options when it comes to peel and stick backsplash tiles. Consider the following when selecting your tiles:

  • Material – Vinyl and plastic tiles are most common. Vinyl is more durable. Some have a ceramic coating for a glossy look.
  • Style – Choose a patterned, textured, or solid tile. Measure the area to calculate how many tiles you’ll need.
  • Dimensions – Tiles come in various sizes like 1×1 inch mosaics or 4×12 inch subway tiles. Pick a size that works with your design.
  • Color – Select a color that complements your cabinetry, countertops, and appliances. Neutrals like white or grays work well in most kitchens.
  • Waterproof – Choose waterproof vinyl tiles for kitchens. Avoid paper-based tiles near water.

Once you’ve selected the perfect peel and stick tiles for your kitchen, order enough to cover the entire backsplash area with a few extras.

Prepare the Surface

Proper surface prep is crucial for getting the tiles to adhere correctly. Follow these steps:

  • Clean the surface thoroughly with soap and water to remove grease, dirt, and debris. Rinse and let dry completely.
  • Remove existing backsplash if there is one. Scrape off any leftover tile adhesive.
  • Sand glossy surfaces lightly with 150-grit sandpaper so the adhesive adheres better. Wipe away dust.
  • Fill any cracks, holes, or uneven areas with spackle. Let dry and sand smooth.
  • Prime the surface with a tile primer or adhesive primer. Allow the primer to dry completely.

The area should now be a clean, smooth, primed surface ready for tile installation.

Measure and Mark the Layout

Planning the tile layout is an important step. Here’s how to do it:

  • Measure the backsplash area and sketch out a layout knowing your tile dimensions. Draw vertical and horizontal lines as guides.
  • Most backsplashes start 2-4 inches above the countertop. Use a level to mark a straight line to align the first row.
  • For subway tile layouts, use spacers to leave even grout lines between tiles.
  • Dry lay the tiles on the countertop first to ensure the layout and pattern align properly.
  • Mark the center point and work outward for symmetrical layouts. Measure and mark pencil lines as guides.

Apply the Adhesive

Follow adhesive instructions carefully for best results:

  • Apply a thin layer of adhesive to the back of each tile using a putty knife or trowel.
  • Alternatively, spread adhesive evenly across the backsplash area and stick tiles directly into place.
  • Use an “S” pattern motion to cover the entire back of each tile.
  • Only cover small sections with adhesive at one time to prevent premature drying.
  • Press tiles firmly into place along guides and spacers once adhesive is spread.
  • If adhesive oozes out between tiles, remove promptly with a damp cloth.

Install the Tiles

Here are some tips for cleanly installing the tiles:

  • Work in rows from top to bottom and one section at a time.
  • Use tile spacers between each tile to create uniform grout line spacing if desired.
  • Carefully press and slide each tile into position. Apply even pressure to adhere.
  • Periodically pull up a tile and check that adhesive has fully transferred to the wall.
  • Continue checking rows for alignment and press firmly again if necessary.
  • Work slowly and methodically for the most precise application. Remove any adhesive smudges immediately.
  • Allow adhesive to cure for 24-48 hours before grouting or permitting water exposure.

Apply Grout for a Finished Look

Adding grout completes your new peel and stick backsplash:

  • Choose an unsanded grout in a color that complements the tile. Apply grout 2-3 days after installation.
  • Push grout evenly into crevices between tiles with a rubber grout float. Hold at a 45° angle and scrape off excess.
  • Wipe diagonally across tiles with a damp sponge to clean grout haze. Rinse sponge frequently.
  • Allow grout to cure 24 hours, then polish the tiles with a soft, dry cloth.
  • Use caulk between tile edges and the countertop or cabinets for watertight joints.
  • Finally, keep your grout looking new by sealing it every 1-2 years.

With the right tiles, tools, and techniques, installing a peel and stick backsplash is an achievable DIY project. Carefully follow each step and you’ll have a stylish, affordable backsplash transformation.

Frequently Asked Questions About Installing Peel and Stick Backsplashes

What kitchen surfaces can peel and stick tiles be installed on?

Peel and stick tiles can be installed directly onto clean, smooth, primed surfaces like drywall, painted walls, laminate, metal, glass, and some plastics. They generally don’t adhere well to porous surfaces like brick or concrete.

Do I need to remove my old backsplash first?

It’s generally best to remove any existing backsplash. Peel and stick tiles won’t bond well over uneven, textured surfaces. Removing old tiles allows you to inspect and prepare the wall properly.

Should I use adhesive or double-sided tape?

An adhesive specifically formulated for vinyl tiles provides the best bond. Many of the peel and stick tiles come with matching adhesives. Double-sided tape may not provide a lasting bond.

How do I cut the tiles for outlets and around edges?

Use a ruler and utility knife to score and snap tiles for precise cuts. For small intricate cuts around outlets, use sharp scissors. Use a file to smooth rough edges.

Can I get my peel and stick tiles wet?

Most vinyl tiles are waterproof and fine around sinks or splashes. But take care not to submerge them in standing water. Limit moisture exposure until adhesive has fully cured.

How long does it take for the adhesive to dry?

Adhesive drying times vary by product but generally take 24-48 hours to cure fully. Avoid any moisture and don’t press too hard on tiles before the adhesive has set.


Updating a kitchen backsplash with peel and stick tiles is one of the easiest and most affordable DIY upgrades. With the right preparation and installation method, these tiles can provide a beautiful, long-lasting addition that transforms the look and feel of a kitchen. Take the time to properly measure, lay out, and adhere the tiles and the finished result will look like a professionally installed designer backsplash.