Installing a sticky backsplash is a great way to easily upgrade your kitchen or bathroom. Sticky backsplashes are thin panels with an adhesive backing that sticks directly to your wall. They come in a variety of materials like metal, glass, marble, and tile, and allow you to transform the look of your space without the mess and labor of a traditional backsplash installation. Installing a sticky backsplash is a DIY-friendly project that can be completed in just a few hours.
Choose Your Material
Sticky backsplashes come in many different materials, colors, and patterns so you can find the perfect look for your space. Here are some of the most popular options:
Metal sticky backsplashes like tin, copper, or stainless steel instantly add shine and dimension. They have an industrial vibe that works well in modern or farmhouse style kitchens. Metal backsplashes are easy to clean and extremely durable.
Tile sticky backsplashes mimic the look of traditional tile backsplashes but install in a fraction of the time. Self-adhesive tile comes in stone, ceramic, glass, and porcelain options with endless color and pattern possibilities like subway tile, marble, or mosaic.
Glass sticky backsplashes have a sleek, modern appeal. They are smooth and glossy for a mirror-like look. Glass backsplashes also come in frosted, pebbled, or patterned styles. Glass is heat and moisture-resistant.
Marble design sticky backsplashes have the classic elegance of real marble without the weight and fragility. Faux marble patterns like Carrara or statuario venatino give you the look of natural stone with an affordable price tag.
Wood panel sticky backsplashes offer rustic cottage charm or contemporary style depending on the wood look you choose. Rich simulated wood grains like oak, walnut, or maple have gorgeous visual texture.
Once you select the material and style you like best, order panels that are at least as wide as your backsplash area to minimize seams.
Gather Your Materials
Gather these supplies before starting your project:
- Sticky backsplash panels
- Tape measure
- Scissors or utility knife
- Adhesive caulk
- Grout (if installing tile panels)
- Cleaning supplies like isopropyl alcohol
Make sure you have extras of adhesive and grout on hand in case you need more while installing.
Prep Your Backsplash Area
Proper prep is crucial for your sticky backsplash to adhere correctly and look its best. Follow these steps:
- Remove any existing backsplash. Scrape off old adhesive or grout completely.
- Wash the backsplash area thoroughly with soap and water. Let it dry completely so there is no moisture on the wall.
- Use isopropyl alcohol to wipe the wall. This helps remove any grease, dirt, or soap residue that could prevent adhesion.
- Fill any cracks or holes with caulk and let it dry. You want a smooth surface.
- Measure the backsplash area and cut your panels to fit if needed with scissors or a utility knife and a straightedge.
Thorough prep leads to optimal sticky backsplash results!
Apply Adhesive Caulk
Adhesive caulk is essential for a long-lasting bond between the backsplash panels and wall surface. Follow these steps:
- Load the caulk gun with quality adhesive caulk. Look for caulk designed specifically for backsplashes and showers.
- Apply a zig-zag pattern of caulk to the back of each panel. Keep caulk about 1/2 inch from the edges.
- Spread the caulk thinly and evenly across the entire back of each panel with a caulk spreader or putty knife.
You want full coverage but a very thin, even layer. Too much adhesive caulk can cause sliding or oozing out from panel edges.
Install Your Backsplash
Once prep is complete and adhesive caulk applied, it’s time for the fun part—installing your gorgeous new backsplash! Follow these instructions:
1. Start in a corner
Put up the corner panel first so the surrounding panels can overlap it on each side. Press the corner panel firmly to the wall from top to bottom to secure it.
2. Remove adhesive strips
Peel off the adhesive strips to mount each panel. Try not to let the strips touch anything before applying to wall or they may lose tackiness.
3. Apply even pressure
Press each panel evenly to the wall using a smooshing motion to prevent air bubbles. Apply pressure for 30-60 seconds.
4. Use a level
Use a level as you install panels to keep everything aligned. Sticky backsplashes show any imperfections in your walls, so take your time to get it right!
5. Seal around edges
Once panels are firmly mounted, seal all around the edges with adhesive caulk. This prevents moisture from getting behind them.
6. Let dry
Allow panels to fully cure for 24-48 hours before grouting tile panels or using your backsplash. The bond strengthens over time.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions since drying time can vary. Take your time with each step for successful results.
Grout and Seal Tile Panels
If installing tile pattern sticky backsplash panels, you will need to finish them just like regular tile:
- Grout seams – Let panels cure completely, then mix and apply grout between all the tile seams according to package directions.
- Clean haze – Once grout dries, use a damp sponge to scrub any haze off the tile. Rinse the sponge frequently.
- Caulk edges – Seal all four edges with a thin bead of clear silicone caulk. Wipe smoothly with wet finger.
- Seal grout – After 7 days, apply grout sealer to protect from moisture and stains.
Let your finished tile panels cure fully for 7-10 days before exposing them to moisture or heavy use. Proper grouting and sealing ensures a water-resistant finish.
FAQs About Installing Sticky Backsplash
What surface can you apply a sticky backsplash to?
Sticky backsplashes are designed to adhere to clean, dry, smooth walls. They work great on:
- Primed or painted walls
- Finished wood
- Ceramic tile
- Stainless steel
Avoid applying directly to bare wood, brick, concrete, or textured surfaces.
Do you have to remove old backsplash for sticky?
It’s best practice to remove any existing backsplash down to the bare wall. This allows the adhesive caulk to bond securely. Covering old tile or other materials with sticky backsplash can lead to future failure as adhesive strength weakens over time.
How long does sticky backsplash adhesive take to dry?
Most adhesive caulks designed for backsplash panels take 24-48 hours to fully cure. Drying time can vary slightly by brand. Always follow manufacturer’s instructions for how long to let adhesive set before grouting or using the backsplash.
Can you install sticky backsplash over existing tile?
This is not recommended. Sticky backsplash adheres best to bare, smooth walls. Existing tile has uneven grout lines that can prevent proper bonding. It’s better to remove old tile, prepare the wall, and install new sticky backsplash correctly.
How do you cut sticky backsplash panels?
Use a sharp utility knife and straightedge to score and snap panels to size. For tile patterns, cut through the adhesive mesh rather than the tile. You can also use sharp scissors for easier cuts. Cut panels face down to prevent scratching.
Can you put sticky backsplash in a bathroom?
Definitely! Sticky backsplash is water-resistant and perfect for bathrooms when properly sealed and maintained. Use mold/mildew resistant caulk and grout for tile panels. Avoid wood in bathrooms which can warp. Clean any splashes right away.
Tips for Getting the Best Result
- Take your time measuring and cutting panels so seams line up perfectly.
- Always start installation in a corner and work outward row by row.
- Use plastic spacers between tile panels to get uniform grout line thickness.
- Make sure your walls are smooth. Fix any imperfections before installing panels.
- Use a caulk spreader or grout float to apply caulk and grout evenly without overdoing it.
- Clean any messes immediately with isopropyl alcohol or your backsplash cleaner of choice.
- Ask a helper to apply even pressure along panels as you adhere them to the wall for a bubble-free finish.
- Let adhesive fully cure before exposing panels to any moisture or heavy use.
Installing a sticky backsplash is one of the easiest ways to transform your kitchen or bathroom. With the right prep and careful application, even DIY novices can achieve professional-looking results. The variety of materials like metal, glass, and tile available as adhesive backsplash panels means you can find the perfect affordable option for your design style. Just take your time, follow application directions carefully, and properly seal and grout tile panels. Get ready to enjoy your gorgeous new backsplash and elevated space! Let us know if you have any other sticky backsplash questions.