Why You May Want To Avoid Peel and Stick Backsplash (Pros & Cons)

Peel and stick kitchen subway tile backsplash

Traditional tile, brick, and stone backsplash add a finished look to kitchens and bathrooms and tie the room design together. Backsplash also prevents water and food drippings from splashing on the wall, making clean-up easier. Although backsplashes made with durable materials look excellent, they’re not easy to install and is a costly undertaking. Instead, homeowners can choose peel and stick backsplash to keep their costs down, and they can install it themselves.

In this article I will discuss the peel and stick backsplash pros and cons, what this product is made from, and design choices, types you should consider and why you may want to avoid this material. [toc]

Why Use Peel-and-Stick Tile?

Black peel and stick backsplash in kitchen

Peel-and-stick backsplash is made of numerous materials and like the name; homeowners can just peel the backing off and stick it to a surface. While that sounds primitive, peel-and-stick backsplash is an inexpensive and simple way to create a beautiful wall accent in kitchens, bathrooms, and utility rooms that also protects the wall.

It’s easy to maintain; simply wipe with a damp rag. Designers turn to peel-and-stick backsplash when they need an easy answer to spruce up a room in a home.

Because of the strong adhesive on the back and by using water-resistant materials, peel-and-stick products are a durable alternative to the typical ceramic tile backsplash. It mimics the look of real tile and does not require mortar, grout, or messy products needed to install traditional backsplashes.

The biggest gripe with a peel-and-stick material is it does not adhere well in wet, humid areas such as an bathroom or kitchen without adequate ventilation. Before I get into all of the reasons to avoid let’s take a look at the advantages.

Small kitchen with modern peel and stick backsplash over stove top


Water-resistant and some types are heat resistant – Select durable vinyl films designed for kitchens hold up well against typical levels of moisture and heat from appliances. Some options even withstand heat up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit without warping or bubbling. 

Low maintenance – Requires little maintenance besides occasional cleaning; resistant to mold and mildew.

Less expensive than traditional options – Available starting under $1 per square foot, making it budget-friendly compared to tile or stone.

No messy installation; measure, cut, peel, and stick – Can be measured to size, cleanly cut with scissors or utility knife, backing peeled off, and smoothly adhered right over existing backsplash.

Offers countless styles, colors, textures, and designs – Provides limitless customization with abstract patterns, faux finishes, mosaics, natural stone looks and more.

Protects walls from water and food splashes – Creates a protective barrier to prevent water damage and stains from cooking splashes.

Bathroom with peel and stick mosaic backsplash


Difficult to line up seams and edges for outlets and other wall fixtures – This can be especially challenging around outlets, switches, trim, etc. This can leave visible gaps or uneven alignments.

Does not provide the depth real materials do – Without the real texture and depth that genuine tile, wood, or stone materials have it can look flat or artificial up close. 

Higher quality peel-and-stick may cost as much as real tile – Expect to pay almost the same price for high-end decorative coatings that can cost nearly as much as real ceramic or porcelain tiles. Budget savings may be less than expected.

Does not come off easy, possibly damaged the wall or surface underneath – Attempting to take it off may damage the wall surface or drywall underneath that then needs repair. I’ve found that using a hair dryer to loosen the adhesive can make pieces come off much easier if you’re having trouble.

Cannot be used in a shower or bathtub – These areas require waterproof ceramic tile with special grout. Vinyl will deteriorate with moisture.

Will not work on walls without a flat surface – Does not work for rough surfaces and will result in pieces popping off and falling which will lead to frustration. If this is happening, you can use a product like peel-and-stick helper or other thin double sided tape to add more adhesive strength.

The glue on the back can deteriorate from moisture, causing peeling – If you’re having this problem you’ll want to ensure the room is getting plenty of ventilation to help prevent these issues.

Vinyl products tend to discolor over time – Vinyl-based peel-and-stick tiles and panels will gradually discolor, yellow or develop stains over a period of years due to sun exposure, humidity, pollution and regular dirt/grime buildup. Try to avoid installing where there is direct sunlight or in hot humid areas with low ventilation to help avoid issues with fading.

For homeowners who need an easy way to add a tile to bathrooms, utility rooms, or kitchens, peel-and-stick products provide the same design choices as conventional backsplashes without the messy installation and high cost.

This do-it-yourself material offers an abundance of colors, patterns, and materials to work with any décor. Although peel-and-stick seems like a cheap answer to home improvement, the benefits outweigh the hassle of traditional options.

Backsplash Cost

small modern kitchen with gold hexagon peel and stick backsplash

Do-it-yourselfers welcome the easy installation of peel-and-stick, and the cost savings make this an economical project.

A set of six vinyl peel-and-stick squares covers approximately 6 to 8 linear feet of a surface and costs from $8 to $12.

Three-dimensional peel-and-stick tiles made from materials such as glass or metal cost more, running as high as $10 for one panel. Some products come as individual tiles while others are manufactured in sheets or rolls.

Types of Peel and Stick For Backsplash

The materials used to create peel-and-stick backsplash range from vinyl, hardened silica gel, and thin pieces of natural materials such as mother of pearl and glass.

Vinyl peel and stick backsplash tile with mosaic designVinyl

Vinyl peel-and-stick has a foam or plastic backing and comes in many colors, patterns, or 3D realistic photos of natural materials such as slate, brick, stone, or wood.

This type of peel-and-stick works great when needing to create a brick wall surrounding a fireplace and the homeowner does not have the time or money for such a large project.

They are a good value for a quick project to transform the look of the space. Installation can be a relatively easy DIY process.

Pvc peel and stick backsplash stone lookPVC

PVC peel-and-stick is made of actual PVC and the tiles match seamlessly. The surface has a texture to resemble real tile and the panels are heat and water-resistant for use in the kitchen or the bathroom.

They also have advantages like being anti-mold and anti-bacterial. Although seamless, use in a shower or bath may still be too much direct moisture. Check with the individual manufacturer to see if it is waterproof for your needs.

Natural reclaimed wood peel and stick backsplashNatural Materials

Several types of peel-and-stick products are made with real materials; thin strips or blocks of the material are cut and include a layer of strong glue on the backside.

Natural materials resist discoloration over time with regular cleaning, but vinyl and gel, depending on the quality, tend to fade.

The other benefit of natural materials is the depth and dimension offered. Natural materials provide realistic texture over both gel and vinyl. Gel products have some height, but vinyl is completely flat, making it, at times, look cheap or fake.

One potential drawback is the durability of some natural materials like wood may not be as resistant to water easy to clean if in contact with grease or other splashes of debris.

Natural materials also risk needing to complete the work with grout. The spaces between the real materials are bare. Without grout, it’ll look unfinished. Ready-made grout makes the job easier, but grout is still messy.

Mother of pearl peel stick backsplashMother of Pearl

A beautiful bathroom peel-and-stick option is made with blocks of real mother-of-pearl shell tiles. Each block is 1” x 1” and mounted on 12-inch square sections.

A bit more care is needed to cut and apply this, but the results are worth it. Additionally, once applied, they can be difficult to remove.

If using these for a countertop surface it is recommended that you seal the shell mosaic using a professional sealer such as DuPont StoneTech or 511 Impregnator.

Metal peel and stick backsplashMetal

Metal is another easy to use material.

1-square-foot sections are made from light and thin metal, typically aluminum, with adhesive on the back.

Metal runs more expensive than other types.

Wavy tile faux glass peel stick backsplashFaux Glass

Hardened silica gel has a textured surface resembling real tile or a smooth surface resembling glass.

The gel is a 3D product and accurately depicts subway tile backsplash, wavy glass in a variety of colors, and stone tile.

Areas must be flat, dry and clean for installation of these types of backsplash.

Mirrored glass peel and stick backsplashMirrored Glass

Still more costly is the glamorous look of antique mirrored glass. These panels run approximately $25 per square foot.

Other types of glass splashguard products are available and are less expensive.

To ensure the tiles stay put they are often installed with ‘Thin-set’ or ‘Insta-set’ to help them stay put.


Real slate stone peel stick backsplashYou can find premium peel and stick stone backsplash that is made from real stone. Aspect stone is a medium-priced option averaging $15 per square foot.

You can usually find stone in earth-tones that can blend well with rustic or traditional kitchen styles. Since aspect stones are made from a real stone veneer they have the unique characteristics or real stone, giving each panel a slightly different variation.

There are also less expensive faux stone options available that will cost much less. However, they also have less visual depth or look cheaper than the real thing.

Faux copper peel stick backsplashFaux Copper

Another attractive option is a product made with aluminum and a propriety lightweight vinyl material that resembles copper.

These mosaic tiles are cut easily with a utility knife and provide durable, long-lasting use. Most manufacturers offer a 20-year warranty.

This material is moisture, steam, chip, and heat resistant up to 190 degrees.

Have you had any experiences using peel and stick backsplash tile? Let us know how it went in the comments.

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