How to Install Plastic Backsplash

A plastic backsplash is a great way to add personality and visual interest to your kitchen. Compared to tile or stone, plastic is an affordable and easy material to install yourself. With just a few tools and some basic skills, you can transform your kitchen with a stylish new backsplash in a weekend. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to install plastic backsplash.

Choose the Right Plastic Backsplash Material

There are a few different types of plastic backsplash materials to choose from:

PVC Panels

PVC (polyvinyl chloride) panels are one of the most popular options. They come in various styles such as faux subway tile, stainless steel, marble, and textured patterns. PVC panels are lightweight, waterproof, and easy to cut and install. They are a budget-friendly option starting around $1 per square foot.

Acrylic Sheets

Acrylic sheets provide a glossy, glass-like look and feel. They can be ordered in custom colors and patterns. Acrylic is durable but more prone to scratching than PVC. Expect to pay $3-$6 per square foot for acrylic backsplash.

Recycled Plastic

For an eco-friendly option, recycled plastic backsplashes use consumer plastics and polymers. These materials give a unique mottled, organic appearance. Recycled plastic backsplashes range from $2-$4 per square foot.


Polycarbonate plastic sheets offer very high impact and scratch resistance. Polycarbonate backsplashes have a sleek, modern look. They are one of the more expensive plastic options at $6-$10 per square foot.

Consider the amount of cutting required, desired durability, and style preferences when selecting your plastic backsplash material.

Gather the Right Installation Tools

Installing a plastic backsplash is largely a DIY-friendly project. With just a few basic tools, you can complete the job. Here is the toolkit you will need:

  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • Pencil
  • Utility knife
  • Straightedge
  • Drill
  • Silicone caulk and caulk gun
  • Adhesive such as Liquid Nails
  • Scissors
  • Painter’s tape

You may also find a jigsaw or circular saw helpful for cutting plastic panels. Make sure you have sharp blades for clean cuts. Having an extra set of hands is also useful during installation.

Prepare the Installation Area

Proper preparation of the backsplash area is crucial for a smooth installation. Follow these steps:

Clean the Surface

Thoroughly clean the entire backsplash area with soap and water. Rinse and let dry completely. This removes any dirt, grease, or debris that could interfere with adhesion.

Remove Outlets and Switch Plates

Take off any electrical outlets, switch plates, hooks, rods, and other items on the backsplash area. Set these aside carefully to reinstall later.

Fill Any Holes or Imperfections

Examine the backsplash surface and fill any holes, cracks, or uneven spots with spackle paste. Let dry and sand smooth. This provides a level surface for the plastic backsplash.

Prime the Wall

For best adhesion, apply a primer coat like KILZ to the entire backsplash area. Let the primer dry completely before installing the plastic, usually 24 hours. Priming creates a uniform surface.

Once prepped, the backsplash area should be clean, dry, smooth, and ready for your new plastic backsplash material.

Measure and Cut the Plastic Backsplash Panels

Plastic backsplash sheets come in standard sizes like 4×8 feet. You will need to measure your space and cut the sheets to fit. Follow these steps:

Measure Precisely

Use a tape measure to measure the length and height of the backsplash area. Record the dimensions. Remember to account for any outlets, corners, or irregular shapes.

Create a Layout

Map out the panel layout on paper based on your measurements. This helps plan the most efficient cuts and use of material. Mark the measurements on the layout.

Cut the Plastic Panels

Using a utility knife and straightedge, carefully measure and cut the plastic sheets to size based on your layout. Take the time to cut neatly and accurately.

Make Outlets and Switches Fit

For any electrical boxes, carefully measure and cut openings in the plastic so the outlets and switches fit flush. A jigsaw tool is handy for making curved cuts around these areas.

Cutting the plastic backsplash pieces accurately makes installation much simpler.

Attach the Backsplash Panels

With the sizing and cutting complete, you are ready for installation. Follow these tips:

Start in a Corner

Begin installation in a corner. Place the first panel flush into the corner and use painter’s tape to hold in place temporarily.

Apply Adhesive

Run a bead of adhesive like Liquid Nails along the wall and plastic panel. Follow the product instructions carefully.

Set Panels and Press Firmly

Set panels gently into place, working outward from the corner. Use a level to ensure even alignment. Press firmly for maximum adhesion.

Use Painter’s Tape to Hold in Place

Use painter’s tape to secure the top and bottom of panels. Let panels sit undisturbed while the adhesive dries. Remove tape after 24 hours.

Fill Seams with Silicone Caulk

Run a thin bead of clear silicone caulk along all seams between panels. Smooth with a wet finger for a clean finish. Allow caulk to fully cure for 24-48 hours.

Finish the Installation Process

You’re in the home stretch! Finish up your plastic backsplash installation:

Reinstall Outlets and Switches

Carefully reinstall any electrical elements like outlets and light switches removed earlier. Test to make sure all are still functioning properly.

Seal Perimeter Edges

Run a thin bead of silicone caulk around all edges where the backsplash meets countertops, walls, and ceilings. This waterproofs and seals the installation.

Clean the Surface

Wipe down the entire surface with a soft, damp microfiber cloth. Avoid harsh cleaners. Use mild soap and water if needed.

Enjoy Your Work!

Step back and admire your skillful handiwork. Enjoy the upgraded look and easy-care convenience of your new plastic backsplash.

With the right planning, tools, and techniques, you can achieve a streamlined professional-looking backsplash installation. Maintain the beauty of your new plastic backsplash by cleaning only with mild soap and water and avoiding abrasive scrubs. Your kitchen will enjoy the benefits for many years to come. Let your new backsplash inspire your next home project!

Frequently Asked Questions about Installing Plastic Backsplash

Many homeowners have additional questions when taking on a plastic backsplash installation project. Here are answers to some of the most common FAQs:

Q: What is the best adhesive to use for attaching plastic backsplash panels?

A: Most professional installers recommend a heavy-duty construction adhesive like Liquid Nails. Look for a product specifically formulated for use with plastics.

Q: Should I use screws or mechanical fasteners in addition to adhesive?

A: Adhesive alone is usually sufficient for securely mounting lightweight plastic backsplash panels. However, you may opt to use some additional screws at seams or along the top edge for added support if desired.

Q: How long does the adhesive need to set before finishing the job?

A: It is best to allow the adhesive to fully cure for 24-48 hours before completing final caulking and reinstalling outlets and switches. This ensures maximum bond strength.

Q: What type of saw blade is best for neatly cutting plastic backsplash sheets?

A: A fine-toothed saw blade made specifically for plastics will provide the cleanest, smoothest cuts in materials like acrylic and PVC. A jigsaw or circular saw fitted with the right blade does the job nicely.

Q: Can I use plastic backsplash panels in a bathroom or anywhere there is moisture?

A: Yes, materials like PVC and acrylic are waterproof so they can be installed around sinks, behind tubs and showers, and in other damp areas of the home. Proper caulking is important to seal edges.

Q: Is it okay to use bleach or other strong cleaners on plastic backsplashes?

A: Harsh cleaners like bleach should be avoided as they can damage and discolor plastic surfaces. Mild dish soap and water is best for routine cleaning. Occasional disinfecting wipes are also safe for most plastic materials.

Q: How difficult is it to cut the plastic panels accurately?

A: With sharp blades and the right cutting tools, plastics like acrylic and PVC can be trimmed neatly and precisely. Going slowly while measuring twice is the key. Allowing a 1/8″ margin along edges accommodates any slight inaccuracies.

Q: Can I install plastic backsplash over existing tile or drywall?

A: In most cases, plastic panels may be safely installed right over existing surfaces after proper cleaning and priming. This saves the step of tearing out previous backsplash materials. Be sure the surface is smooth.

Taking the time to research and understand the plastic backsplash installation process will ensure your project goes smoothly from start to finish. In just a weekend, you can give your kitchen an affordable new look with these durable, low-maintenance panels.


Installing a plastic backsplash is one of the easiest and most budget-friendly ways to update any kitchen. With the right preparation, tools, and installation method, you can achieve professional-looking results even if tackling it as a DIY novice. Plan your purchases, measurements, and layout wisely. Allow time for proper panel cutting and adhesive curing. In just a weekend, you can enjoy a stylish, low-maintenance backsplash that adds personality and visual appeal to your cooking space for years to come. With a little care and cleaning, your new plastic backsplash will continue looking freshly installed indefinitely.