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This is Everything You Need to Know About Peel and Stick Tile, According to Experts

Bright white kitchen with subway tiling.

Design: Pure Salt Interiors; Photo: Vanessa Lentine

Move over removable wallpaper—your little sister “tile” is having a moment! Peel and stick tiles—available in materials like glass, stone, vinyl, faux leather, gel and metal—offer up quick and affordable ways to update your home.

“We’ve seen an increase in the tile’s popularity this year as people spend more time at home and are looking for easy and inexpensive ways to renovate their surroundings,” says Molly Parker, Vice President of Category Experience at Overstock.

Meet the Expert

  • Molly Parker is the vice president of category experience at Overstock.
  • Blair Kenary is the director of flooring for Wayfair.
  • Justin DiPiero is an interior designer and stylist based in Brooklyn, New York. 
  • Matt Kunkle is an associate merchant for wall tile at The Home Depot.

With an endless selection of colors and styles, peel and stick tiles can change the look of any space. Given that, we asked experts to weigh in on some pressing (pun intended!) questions when it comes to removable tile.

What Are the Benefits to Peel and Stick Tile? 

“Peel and stick tiles have become increasingly popular due to their versatility and affordability—plus there’s no need to hire a professional installer or deal with messy grout,” says Blair Kenary, a tile expert and director of flooring for Wayfair. Because they aren't permanent, the tiles can be switched out as your tastes change, which is ideal for someone who likes to experiment with design or someone who follows tile trends and wants the option of being able to easily update, Parker adds.

They're also pretty quick to install. “You could tackle a project in one afternoon, whereas traditional tile could take days,” Kenary notes, who shares that temporary tiles are now being used on backsplashes, accent walls, and stair risers.

Peel and stick tiling is also a great option for renters who want to add a temporary personal touch to their space, or for a kid’s bathroom, where a change may be desired down the road.

Can These Tiles Withstand Heat and Moisture? 

“Do your research on the tile in question to ensure it can withstand the elements,” Kenary says. “For example, some options are water-resistant and intended for areas where there’s a lot of moisture like bathrooms, others are heat-resistant and can be used around an oven or stove.”

It's important to note that the one place you do not want to apply peel and stick tile is in wet areas like showers, as the adhesive could weaken or fail. “It’s also helpful to read customer reviews to make a more informed decision,” suggests Justin DiPiero, an interior designer and stylist based in Brooklyn, New York. 

Is There Tile That Looks More Authentic Than Others?

Peel and stick tiles are available in vinyl, PVC, glass, gel, metal and stone. “How authentic one option looks is up to the discretion of the individual,” Kenary says. “Ultimately, it’s all about personal preference and the desired aesthetic.”

The thickness of the tile is generally a good indicator of quality. If you’re buying tile online, consider ordering a sample to preview before outfitting your entire space. “Although pricier, I think glass and stone are always going to look more authentic than plastic or vinyl,” DiPiero notes.

“If you’re looking to make a statement in a highly visible area, why not splurge a bit?” adds Matt Kunkle, an associate merchant of wall tile at The Home Depot, “The most authentic looking peel and stick tiles are made of stone and metal mosaics, as the natural materials used in these products have not been replicated.”

What’s the Best Way to Measure for New Tile? 

Tiles come in different shapes and sizes, so a square foot measurement of your project area is the most important one needed.

“To calculate, measure the length and width of the area and then multiple those two measurements to provide the total square footage,” says Kenary. “Next, you’ll need to translate the square footage to the amount of tile you require. Divide the total square footage of the room by the total square footage of the tile in the box. For example, if each box contains ten square feet of tile and you need 120 square feet, you’ll need at least twelve boxes.”

Always purchase extra tile for cuts, waste, breaks, and mistakes. “Multiply the square footage of the room by 10%, then add this amount to the total square of the room,” Kenary adds. You’ll also want to have additional tile on hand if the style or color is discontinued, or if you need to replace it due to lifting or damage.  

Many sites, such as Wayfair, help with the calculations. Enter your total square footage and they’ll estimate the number of boxes needed while factoring in an extra 10% in materials for any mishaps.

Do You Need Special Tools to Cut the Tiles? 

“Box cutters, scissors, and utility knives all work to cut the majority of peel and stick options,” Parker says. “A tile saw may be needed to cut stone or ceramic tiles.”

If a saw is needed, be sure to use safety equipment such as leather work gloves and goggles, DiPiero adds. 

What is the Best Way to Apply the Tiles? 

Allow the tile to sit in the desired room for 48 hours prior to installation. “The adhesive needs to acclimate to the room,” Parker says. “Clean the surface area using warm water only, as chemical cleaners or soap could leave behind residue, affecting the adhesive process.”

Allow 24 hours for the area to dry, then test the tile application in an inconspicuous spot. Kenary advises removing electrical outlet covers and switch plates before installation. “From there, the installation process is exactly what you’d expect—just peel the film, stick the tile to your desired surface, and press.”

Avoid touching the adhesive as dust, dirt and oils will affect its strength.

What Should You Do if the Tile Starts to Fall? 

Typically, the adhesive on peel and stick tile is strong. However, if they start to lift or peel at the corners, you can apply a flooring adhesive (such as VersaPro Universal Peel and Stick Flooring Adhesive), placing it directly under the lifted edge. Or, look for a construction grade glue that comes in a tube with a tip, (such as Gorilla Heavy Duty Ultimate Construction Adhesive), making it easy to access under a tile.   

Can the Tiles Fade Over Time?

“Vinyl or PVC tiles could fade over time if they’re in direct sunlight or near extreme heat,” Kenary says.

If an area gets a lot of natural light, consider a fade resistant option such as metal, stone, glass, or porcelain. “Higher-end vinyl is less likely to fade and is actually easier to maintain,” DiPiero adds.

Is the Tile Difficult to Remove?

You’ll want to warm up the seams or edges of the tiles with a hair dryer,” says Kenary. “Then insert a scraper or a putty knife underneath the seams, lifting the tiles by applying a little pressure, then slowly peeling them off.”

Can You Apply Them Over Existing Tile? 

You can apply peel and stick tile over existing tile, but it’s not recommended because the adhesive typically works better on an even surface,” says Parker.

Some peel and stick tiles require that any existing grout lines be filled prior to installation over existing tile so the surface is as smooth as possible, notes DiPiero.

Do These Tiles Require Special Cleaning?

“Using a cleaner intended for traditional tile can be harmful to peel and stick tiles if the solvents reach the seams and gets underneath the tiles,” says Kenary. “A better and safe and effective DIY solution can be made using 1 cup of white vinegar, 2 tablespoons of dish soap and 1 gallon of warm water,” says Kenary.