Installing PVC backsplash panels can completely transform the look of your kitchen or bathroom. These affordable and low-maintenance panels are a great alternative to traditional tile backsplashes. Installing them is a relatively easy DIY project that can be completed in a weekend. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to install PVC backsplash panels in your home.
Choose the Right PVC Backsplash Panels
The first step is to choose the right PVC panels for your space. Here are some things to consider:
PVC backsplashes come in diverse styles to suit any decor. Popular options include:
- Subway tile: Resembles classic 3×6 inch subway tiles and has a timeless look. Available in glossy or matte finish.
- Marble/stone: Realistically mimics the look of natural stone or marble backsplashes.
- Wood: Provides a rustic, natural wood look in different stains.
- Patterned: Choose from myriad patterns like chevron, herringbone, mosaic, etc.
- Solid color: Simple and sleek panels in any color.
Choose a style that aligns with your overall kitchen or bathroom design and aesthetics.
PVC backsplash panels are typically made from either of two materials:
- PVC: Polyvinyl chloride panels are waterproof, low-maintenance, and budget-friendly. They come in maximum style options.
- PEVA: Polyethylene vinyl acetate panels are more flexible and easier to install. However, style choices are limited.
PVC is suitable for most homes. Go for PEVA if you need to install panels around curved surfaces.
Standard PVC panels are available in:
- Width: 6, 8, 12 inches
- Height: 32, 36, 48 inches
- Thickness: Around 0.1 inches
Choose dimensions based on the size of your installation area. Opt for larger panels to minimize seams.
Finish and Color
Matte finish PVC panels are more popular as they resist scratches and fingerprints. Go for glossy finish only for wet areas like behind a sink or range.
For color, select one that complements your cabinetry and countertops. Neutral shades like white and gray are versatile. Bold hues like navy blue can elevate a mundane kitchen.
Look for backsplash designs that suit your motif. For modern kitchens, sleek subway tiles or solid color panels are fitting. Rustic or farmhouse spaces can benefit from faux wood panels.
Once you’ve selected the right PVC backsplash panels, order everything you need including a few extras. Avoid last-minute shortages.
Gather the Necessary Installation Supplies
Installing PVC backsplash panels is easy with the right tools. Here’s what you’ll need:
- PVC backsplash panels (with extras)
- Construction adhesive
- Trim molding
- Finishing nails
- Wood glue
- Drill & drill bits
- Utility knife
- Measuring tape
- Stud finder
- Dust mask
- Safety goggles
- Ladder (for high ceilings)
Choose high-quality construction adhesive and silicone caulk designed for PVC panels. Have additional supplies like rags, painters’ tape, and screw gun ready.
Prepare the Installation Area
To ensure successful PVC backsplash installation, make sure the target wall area is ready. Follow these preparatory steps:
Clean the installation surface with soap and water to remove grease, oils, and dust. This allows the adhesive to bond tightly.
Use denatured alcohol to eliminate soap residue. Wipe the area down with a clean, dry cloth.
Detach any installed stoves, ovens, and sinks from the wall if needed. You’ll get an unrestricted workspace to install panels.
Fix Surface Imperfections
Examine the target area closely for holes, cracks, uneven bumps, or other flaws. Fix all imperfections using drywall joint compound.
Sand bumps smooth. Ensure the surface is entirely flat and even.
Install Backing Boards
PVC panels cannot be installed directly over drywall. Nail up plywood or cement backer board sheets as a solid backing.
Make sure backing boards are moisture-resistant (use cement backer board behind a sink or range). Align boards carefully for a smooth finish.
The wall is now ready for PVC backsplash installation.
How to Cut PVC Backsplash Panels
PVC panels must be cut to size before installation. Measure the target area and use these steps to cut panels:
Measure Twice, Cut Once
Check all measurements twice before making any cuts. Plan the panel layout and make a cutting diagram to avoid errors.
Use a Utility Knife and Straightedge
Score the panel face multiple times with a sharp utility knife guided by a straightedge. Go over the same line several times.
Snap Panel Along Scored Line
Place the scored line over a narrow edge (like a countertop corner) and bend the panel to snap it cleanly along the line.
Use 100-grit sandpaper to smooth cut edges. Wipe away plastic debris with a dry cloth.
Make all necessary cuts before starting installation. Practice on PVC panel scraps first to perfect your technique.
How to Drill Holes in PVC Backsplash Panels
PVC panels may require holes for plumbing fixtures, outlets, and other penetrations. Follow these steps:
Mark Hole Locations
Determine the exact hole locations by measuring and marking spots on the panel face. Double check measurements.
Use a Power Drill
Use a power drill with a 1⁄4-inch drill bit to bore holes. Take it slow by lightly applying pressure as the bit contacts the panel.
Smooth Rough Edges
File down any rough edges around the freshly drilled holes with 120-grit sandpaper. Wipe debris away.
Be sure to drill holes before attaching PVC panels. Doing it after risks cracking and damaging installed panels.
How to Prepare PVC Backsplash Panels for Installation
Once cut to size, take a few preparatory steps before installing PVC panels:
Dry Fit Panels
Do a dry run by temporarily holding panels in place. Ensure they fit correctly and make any adjustments.
Clean and Dry Panels
Wipe panel surfaces with isopropyl alcohol. Allow to completely dry. Remove dirt, oils, and moisture for good adhesion.
Apply Silicone Sealant
Run a silicone bead along panel edges and around penetrations. This prevents moisture ingress after installation.
With these preparatory steps done, the PVC backsplash panels are ready for installation.
How to Install PVC Backsplash Panels on Walls
Here are the step-by-step instructions to securely install PVC backsplash panels on walls:
Apply Construction Adhesive
Load construction adhesive into a caulking gun. Run vertical beads along stud locations as marked by a stud finder. Also apply adhesive in a zig-zag pattern over the entire board.
Press Panel in Place
Carefully lift and hold the prepared PVC panel against the wall. Apply steady pressure for 30 seconds to flatten adhesive beads and ensure maximum contact.
Use Mechanical Fasteners
In addition to adhesive, use finishing nails driven into wall studs to mechanically fasten panels. Pre-drill holes to avoid cracking panels. Drive nails flush.
Place clamps at both ends to tightly sandwich the panel between the clamps and wall. Adhesive needs 24 hours to cure and clamps prevent detachment.
Install Trim Molding
Trim molding finishes panel edges and hides any uneven cuts or gaps. Use silicone adhesive and small finishing nails to install trim.
Carefully follow these steps to achieve a long-lasting, secure bond for each PVC backsplash panel.
How to Seal PVC Backsplash Panel Seams
PVC panels expand and contract slightly with temperature changes. To prevent moisture seepage through seams:
Apply Sealant Generously
Use a high-quality silicone sealant and apply a generous bead that fills seam gaps. Slowly drag the tube nozzle to keep an even bead shape.
Before sealant dries, use a plastic smoothening tool or finger to flatten and smooth the bead. Remove any excess squeeze-out.
Allow Proper Curing
Leave the sealant bead undisturbed while it dries and cures fully. This takes around 24 hours. Do not wipe or fiddle with uncured sealant.
Sealing all seams waterproofs the installation and prevents mold or mildew growth.
How to Install PVC Backsplash Panels Around Outlets
Use the following technique to neatly install PVC panels around wall outlets:
Turn Power Off
Switch off electricity to the outlet at the breaker before work. Verify it is safely deactivated.
Remove Cover Plate
Unscrew and remove the outlet cover plate for access. Take care not to detach or damage wires.
Cut Opening in Panel
Measure and mark a cutout on the panel to accommodate the outlet box. Use a utility knife and straightedge to cut the opening. Make multiple passes.
Dry Fit Panel
Temporarily place the panel around the outlet to confirm a good fit. The outlet box should sit flush within the cutout.
Run a silicone bead along outlet edges before securing the panel. This seals any gaps.
Follow normal steps to adhere panel and fasten with nails. Take care around outlet wires.
Replace Cover Plate
Screw the outlet cover plate back on over the installed panel. Confirm it sits flush.
Carefully working around outlets prevents damage and leaves a neat, integrated finish.
How to Join Multiple PVC Backsplash Panels
For large expanses, join multiple PVC panels end-to-end using these techniques:
Shiplap Edge Design
Some panels feature an interlocking shiplap edge that provides a built-in join. Simply lock panels together snugly.
Insert a PVC spline strip in the joint behind panels to act as an anchor. Apply adhesive to seams before joining.
Small trim strips can be glued and nailed over panel seams to conceal joints. Choose color-matched trim.
Seal All Joints
Apply a continuous bead of silicone sealant along every joint for waterproofing, regardless of the joining method.
Stagger panels to offset vertical seams for a pleasing look. Plan the panel joins before starting installation.
How to Remove Existing Backsplashes
To replace an existing backsplash with new PVC panels:
Use a Utility Knife
For ceramic tile, score grout lines with a utility knife and pry tiles out gently. Scrape off all old grout.
For nailed-on wooden backsplashes, use a hammer and pry bar to pull nails out and pry boards down.
Heat Up Glue
For laminate sheets, use a hairdryer to heat up glue and gently peel away sheets. Scrape off residual adhesive.
Sand rough spots and fill holes or uneven areas with joint compound. Let dry completely.
The wall must be smooth and even before installing new PVC backsplash panels.
PVC Backsplash Maintenance and Care
PVC backsplashes are quite simple to keep looking like new:
- Use a mild detergent and soft sponge for regular cleaning. Avoid harsh cleaners.
- Immediately wipe up spills and splatters to prevent staining.
- Reapply silicone sealant if cracks appear along seams or around fixtures.
- Avoid using abrasive scouring pads or scrub brushes which can dull and scratch PVC.
- Use matte finish touch-up paint to conceal small nicks and cuts if needed.
With proper care, PVC backsplash panels will maintain their good looks for many years without needing replacement.
Frequently Asked Questions About Installing PVC Backsplashes
Below are answers to some common queries on PVC backsplash installation:
Is it OK to install panels over existing tile?
No, PVC panels should not be installed directly over old ceramic tiles. The grout lines will be visible underneath and make the finish look uneven. Existing tile must be stripped for a smooth surface.
What about moisture resistance?
PVC panels are highly water-resistant. Use silicone sealant at all joints and seams to prevent water ingress and damage over time, especially around sinks and stoves.
Do panels need to be removed for painting walls?
No. PVC backsplash panels can be left in place while repainting walls. Use painters tape to mask off panels and prevent splatters.
Can heating elements or candles damage panels?
Yes, direct heat sources can potentially discolor or warp panels. Maintain a safe distance when installing around stoves. Consider a heat resistant glass splashguard.
How long does PVC backsplash installation take?
If replacing an existing backsplash, the entire process typically takes 2 to 3 days: Day 1 for removal, Day 2 for installing panels and trim, and Day 3 for sealing and caulking.
Installing PVC backsplash panels allows you to affordably upgrade any kitchen or bath to achieve the visual appeal of upscale ceramic tile or natural stone. By following the step-by-step process outlined, you can successfully complete this DIY project over a weekend. Pay attention to proper preparation, precise cutting, seamless joining, and thorough sealing. Take care to make the installation watertight. With minimal maintenance, PVC backsplashes provide durable and stunning beauty for years.