This semi-permanent improvement can have major impact.

By Lauren Wellbank
October 05, 2020
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Whether you are a renter or are simply looking an easy project for your home, stick-on tiles can have a major impact on your space. Even better? They're virtually commitment free. You can use them to create everything from a headboard for your bed to a new backsplash in your kitchen, and since they are stick-on, there's little time, money, and effort required on your part. Here, our experts explain exactly what it takes to upgrade your home with stick-on tiles.

What projects are stick-on tiles best for?

According to home expert Jordan Reid, there are many reasons to pick temporary peel and stick options. "They're relatively inexpensive, they're relatively easy to install (albeit time-consuming in larger or irregularly shaped areas), and they offer tons of style and color options," she says. You can use stick-on tiles to add some color or interest to a space—or as an affordable alternative to cover up an existing floor or wall that could use a bit of a makeover. "For example, I used stick-on tiles to cover up my home's not-so-cute 1970's-era linoleum kitchen floor and also to add detail and texture to a wall in my bathroom."

Which stick-on materials should you choose?

Peel and stick tiles come in many different materials, like vinyl, metal, gel, glass, and stone. You can also find them in a variety of styles, says Melissa Diaz, the owner and designer of Stunningly Staged Homes in Los Angeles, including faux wood, vinyl mosaic tile, subway tiles, and more. But before you select a material or pattern, you should know where the tile is going—understanding where these types of tiles will, and will not, work will make a huge difference in your project (and save you time in the long run).

Wood plank-effect tiles can be a good flooring option, since they basically give you the look of hardwood sans the expense, explains Reid. There are also water-resistant styles that work really well for bathrooms and kitchens. "Subway-style peel-and-stick tiles are perfect for anywhere, really—but make sure you go for a brand that's antibacterial and mold-resistant, especially if you're going to be using it in a bathroom," she says. Diaz adds that placing grout and caulking to seal the tiles (and prevent water seepage) is another must if you're working in the bathroom.

Which tile types should you avoid?

The more intricate and geometric the design, the harder it will be to match the tiles, explains Reid. So, go for less involved styles that don't have to be perfect in order to look great. Simple subway styles or easy-to-line-up cubes or octagons are your best bet. And be sure to remember that you can't apply peel-and-stick tiles just anywhere—high-humidity areas or on bumpy surfaces will impair the glue's ability to stick. "You want to use these tiles in common areas where they won't see a lot of wear and tear," notes Reid.

What tools will you need?

If you're going to tackle a stick-on tile project, you'll need the right tools to ensure that installation goes smoothly. "Don't use a dull x-acto knife and be sure to use a level," interior designer Sterling Tran explains. "And don't buy any type of stick-on tile that is not three-dimensional—it will look cheap. Make sure your surface is clean before you start and even after. If you are installing stick-on tile on a tiled floor to upgrade the look or design, for example, be sure to fill in the grout so that it is level."

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