Keep Your Security Deposit With the Best Peel-and-Stick Backsplashes
Three rental-friendly options approved by designers and DIYers.
Published Sep 29, 2022 3:30 PM
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Reading up on Domino’s shopping guides is like having your own personal product concierge. We do the tedious part—deep-dive research, hands-on testing, and tapping experts for advice—so all you have to do is hit “add to cart.” That’s why we call them Simply the Best.
One of our all-time-favorite rental-friendly hacks is a peel-and-stick backsplash. For a fraction of the cost and labor, the decal-like material takes on the appearance of genuine tile—think: everything from subway styles to colorful mosaics to glossy zellige. Its adhesion is temporary and designed to, as the name suggests, peel off without causing damage to the original surface. With a continued rise in popularity, the options for this affordable interior hack are aplenty. So to help narrow it down, we tapped those who have vetted and approved the best peel-and-stick backsplashes on the market.
Best Brick Tile: Smart Tiles
Finish: Matte | Dimensions: 21.28-by-10.86 inches | Pack: 2
For both his current and previous apartment, DIYer Drew Scott of Lone Fox Home turned to Smart Tiles. When it comes to the application, Scott reports that the whole process is a breeze (thanks to in-depth instructions) and the maintenance is minimal. “The great thing about Smart Tiles is it has a calculator on its website that walks you through how to measure so you know the exact quantity to buy. It makes shopping for peel-and-stick tiles a little less daunting,” he shares. The brand is also one of the few on the market that offers a lifetime warranty. Most recently, Scott needed to hide a blue glass-and-granite combo backsplash that just wasn’t his style, and he chose to do so with the brand’s Brik line. “I wanted to make it a bit more natural and rustic,” he explains. “I love how they are matte white and provide the perfect amount of texture.”
Best Mosaic Tile: Daltile
Finish: Matte | Dimensions: 11.8-by-11.8-inches | Pack: 12
For her historic apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Marianne Sides chose the tile manufacturer Daltile’s peel-and-stick backsplash that imitates natural stone. “It’s as close to the real thing as you can get,” shares Sides. The box comes packaged with 12 pieces that will cover approximately 11 square feet (Wayfair offers a nifty calculator to help you with your order if needed). To make cuts, Sides recommends using a saw or anything sharper and stronger than an X-Acto knife. “It adds tons of warmth and character,” shares Sides. “I think you can tell a lot about the quality based on the thickness of the material. Mine are a solid stone, which has made them incredibly easy to clean and maintain. Other options that are a thicker peel-and-stick material also look more realistic and are long-lasting.”
Best Small Tile: Homeart
Finish: Glossy | Dimensions: 10-by-10-inches | Pack: 10
Not every kitchen space is suited for a standard subway tile cut. If you don’t feel like figuring out how to overlap the long striated piece, then take a page from designer Jennifer Levy’s book and pick up a simple square sheet. Instead of taking on the appearance of a sticker, the vinyl material delivers a beveled look that makes it easy to mistake for glossy porcelain. This also means the material is easier to clean. “I went with something simple and graphic. I had dark tiles that I wanted to cover up to lighten the space,” Levy explains. “I used a colored grout pen to draw in the ‘grout’ and add some contrast.”
We Also Like
The exact peel-and-stick backsplash used by TikTok star Victoria Paris in her former New York City apartment is completely sold out. But this collection is a close alternative for kitchens lacking color and personality.
Blogger Sara Toufali put Bellagio’s peel-and-stick backsplash to work in her bathroom. The brand’s panel style offers up a painless application process and is offered in a glossy or matte finish.
For an incredibly realistic look with an unbeatable price (we’re talking less than $30 for 10 sheets), try Art3D. Backed by 10,000-plus rave reviews, these 1.5-inch-thick and 12-by-12-inch panels offer strong adhesion—so we recommend taking your time with the installation.
Smart Tiles isn’t just a great source for textured-brick look-alikes. Instead of splurging on the real deal, DIYer Alexandra Gater found success with the brand’s peel-and-stick subway style in glossy pink. It will be easy to swap out when she’s ready to try something different or finally pulls the trigger on more permanent ceramic tiles.
How We Chose These Products
We reached out to designers and DIYers alike who’ve used peel-and-stick tile on more than one occasion to dress up a rental or save their renovation budget from going over. Their picks have proven to stand up over time and work on both blank walls and precovered surfaces, whether that be old tile or an odd vinyl situation.
Our Shopping Checklist
Material and Durability
Opt for a durable material and finish that can withstand wear and tear; think: stovetop splatters or sink-water splashes. You’ll also want to keep temperature and humidity in mind, too, if the peel-and-stick backsplash is installed near a stove or convection oven—natural stone is best here. (Tip: Look out for keywords beyond water resistance that include heat and humidity.)
Levy’s trick to ensuring you order the right amount of peel-and-stick backsplash is to multiply the length by the height of the area you’re looking to cover. “The tile is sold in packs, so you have to round up to have enough,” she notes. Though ordering extra helps practice and perfect your cutting skills; Scott always orders two or three extra packs and uses an X-Acto knife with a contoured edge. “Plus if you order from Amazon, the returns for any extras are supereasy,” he adds.
Application and Placement
You don’t just want to sticker these pieces on right away, however; cleaning and prepping the surface area first is key. Start by wiping it down with water and soap to remove dust and debris, allotting ample drying time to prevent the backsplash corners from curling away upon application. Then Levy’s best words of advice: Don’t overthink it. “It’s a supersimple and low-budget DIY. It can go up in just a few hours and come down even faster,” she argues. “I have a small squeegee that I’ve used to apply vinyls to windows, from my days working as a visual merchandiser. It helps to press the corners down.”
Finally, Gater reminds us, it helps to start at the bottom corner before working across from left to right and up. Just follow along with the integrated grout lines, like putting together puzzle pieces. To up the realistic factor, experiment with adding in a line of grout where the stickers meet the counter—or try using clear silicone to truly seal the deal.
Q: Is the removal process really as simple as peeling it off?
Pretty much! But if you find yourself struggling, try Scott’s trick of warming up the adhesive with a hair dryer. If there is any residue left behind on the original surface, Levy shares that a little Goo Gone can go a long way.
Q: Do I have to use tile for my kitchen backsplash?
Not always. In fact, for her previous apartment, our chief content officer, Kate Berry, used wallpaper to cover up her less-than-exciting backsplash situation. Because they were glass tiles, Berry’s creative work-around included wallpapering 2 yards of the Jardin D’Osier pattern by Hermès over panels of MDF, before adding cut glass sandwiched with silicone on top. This last step was important in providing material protection along with low-maintenance removal.
Q: Can I place these over an existing tiled backsplash?
It depends. If your current backsplash has deep grout lines or features a rough-embossed finish, it may not stick as well. Plus if the panel you choose is thin, there’s a good chance the original backsplash will telegraph through. Luckily, most of these brands offer samples so you can confirm if the backsplash will work for your surface before fully committing to a larger purchase.
The Last Word
The best peel-and-stick backsplash is durable enough to handle the inevitable hot, sticky, and wet messes inside a kitchen or bathroom. And after a quick wipe-down, it continues to look just as good until it’s time to remove it.