Installing a sticker backsplash is an easy and affordable way to refresh your kitchen or bathroom. A sticker backsplash provides a quick facelift without the mess, expense, and labor of tiling. With minimal tools and time, you can quickly upgrade your space with a stylish and modern backsplash using sticker tiles. This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know to properly install a sticker backsplash.
Choosing Your Sticker Backsplash
When selecting your sticker backsplash, you’ll first want to decide on the look and style you hope to achieve. Here are some things to consider:
Sticker backsplash tiles come in a few different materials:
- Vinyl – Most affordable option that is still durable. Easy to cut and apply.
- Peel and stick – Made from thicker vinyl or laminate that peels off easily and adheres smoothly. More rigid than regular vinyl.
- 3D foam – Made from EVA foam and has a dimensional, textured appearance. Adds depth and realism.
- Real metal – Made from thin sheets of real metal like copper, tin, or stainless steel. Most premium option.
Sticker backsplashes come in endless styles that mimic popular backsplash tile materials such as:
- Subway tile
- Moroccan/geometric patterns
- Nature scenes
- Rustic styles like reclaimed wood
Consider the color palette you want for your space. Neutral palettes like white, grey, or beige are versatile. Bold colors like blue or green make a statement. Go for a multi-colored mosaic pattern for eclectic style.
Preparing Your Backsplash Area
Proper prep is crucial for getting your sticker backsplash to adhere correctly. Follow these steps:
Clean the Surface
Thoroughly clean the installation area with a degreaser to remove any dirt, grime, or oils. Rinse and let dry completely. This allows the adhesive to bond tightly.
Remove Appliances/Outlet Covers
Remove any appliances, fixtures, or outlet covers from the backsplash area prior to installation. You can easily reinstall them later. This allows you to install the backsplash tiles behind them for a seamless look.
Fill Any Holes/Imperfections
Examine the wall for any holes, cracks, chipped areas, etc. Fill any imperfections with spackle paste and let dry completely. Sand smooth. This provides an even base surface.
Paint If Needed
If your old backsplash is a different color than your new tiles, apply a fresh coat of paint in a coordinating neutral tone. Let it fully dry before installing your new backsplash.
How to Install Your Sticker Backsplash Tiles
Once your surface is prepped, you’re ready to apply the tiles:
Plan Your Layout
Map out the tile layout ahead of time so you know exactly where each tile should be placed. Measure to find the center and make sure tiles align evenly.
Cut Any Border/Outlet Pieces
Measure and trim border or outlet pieces as needed with scissors or a utility knife. Cut slowly and smoothly for clean edges.
Peel Off Backing
Peel off the adhesive backing from each tile slowly and carefully. Try not to let the sticky side touch anything yet.
Apply Tiles in Sections
Apply tiles one section at a time, pressing each one firmly for 30-60 seconds as you go. Work top to bottom. Remove air bubbles with a smoothing tool.
Use Spacers for Consistent Grouting Lines
Place small spacers between tiles to create even grout line spacing. Remove spacers once section is done before moving to next.
Seal Around Edges
Once all tiles are applied, run a silicone caulk bead along all edges to seal. Smooth with finger or tool. Let dry before grouting.
Grouting Your Sticker Backsplash
Grouting gives your tile backsplash a polished, finished look. Here’s how to grout sticker tiles:
- Grout float
- Grout sealer
- Grout lines tool or pencil
- Grout coloring if desired
- Damp sponge
Mix and Apply Grout
Mix grout per package instructions and apply over tiles to fill all seams and crevices. Push into gaps with float or rubber grout tool.
Let Sit 5-10 Minutes
Allow grout to set up for 5-10 minutes. Then scrape off any excess grout from the surface of tiles carefully with a pencil or thin tool.
Wipe Clean With Sponge
Use a lightly damp sponge to wipe over tiles diagonally. Rinse sponge and wipe again until tiles are clean and only grout remains in joints.
Once grout is dry, apply a grout sealer evenly over all grouted areas. This prevents staining and makes grout waterproof. Allow to fully dry.
Cure 48-72 Hours
Leave finished backsplash untouched for 48-72 hours for grout and sealer to fully cure. Avoid getting wet during this time.
FAQs About Installing Sticker Backsplash
What wall material can I install a sticker backsplash on?
Sticker backsplash tiles can be installed directly onto existing tile, drywall, plaster, concrete, wood, or painted surfaces. Ensure the surface is smooth, clean, and dry first.
Do I need to remove my old backsplash first?
For the best results, any existing backsplash tile should be removed prior to installing a new sticker tile backsplash over the area.
What tools do I need to install a sticker backsplash?
A few basic tools needed are a tape measure, utility knife, level, spacers, grout float, caulking gun, and grout sponge. You may also need a drill or spackle for prep work.
How long does it take to install a sticker backsplash?
Once the backsplash area is prepped, you can install a full sticker backsplash in just a few hours. The most time-consuming parts are the planning layout and grouting steps.
Can I install a sticker backsplash around electrical outlets?
Yes, tile around outlets by carefully cutting the stickers to fit. Make sure the power is turned off when removing outlet covers to install tiles behind them.
Do sticker backsplash tiles hold up over time?
Quality vinyl sticker backsplash tiles are made to be durable and waterproof. With proper installation and care, a sticker backsplash can last for many years without issues.
How do I cut sticker tiles?
Use a sharp utility knife and metal ruler to measure and score sticker tiles. Cut slowly and multiple times for clean edges. Foam tiles can tear more easily, so cut carefully.
Tips for Maintaining Your Sticker Backsplash
Follow these tips to keep your sticker backsplash looking its best:
- Use a gentle cleaner and soft sponge to clean. Avoid abrasive scrubbers.
- Re-seal grout every 1-2 years to prevent staining or moisture damage.
- For scuffs, gently rub with a magic eraser then rinse.
- Avoid allowing moisture to seep behind tiles – re-caulk if needed.
- Limit direct sunlight exposure to prevent fading over time.
- Don’t pull or pick at edges – tiles can lift or peel if not properly adhered.
Installing a sticker backsplash offers a satisfying DIY weekend project with brilliant results. Preparing your surface fully, taking care to apply tiles meticulously, and proper grouting are keys to success. Follow the techniques outlined to gain a stylish, affordable backsplash with minimal hassle or mess. With the right know-how, anyone can achieve a magazine-worthy kitchen or bathroom with this simple decorative upgrade.