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The world of decorative adhesives has come a LONG way in the past 20 years. One of the best things to come out of that boom, especially for RV design enthusiasts, is peel-and-stick tiles!
Peel-and-stick tiles are an inexpensive, easy, versatile, and lightweight way to spruce up your RV walls. That may be with a backsplash in your RV kitchen or bathroom, as a decorative wall border, as an entire accent wall, or even as a new finish on your cabinets or ceiling!
Plus, they come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, colors, designs, and textures. So, no matter your style, you can find something that speaks to you.
Peel-and-Stick Tiles Shopping Tips
Invest in Good Quality
As with most things in life, you get what you pay for. If you opt for the cheapest peel-and-stick tiles on the market, then they’re probably going to look like plastic. They will also likely rip easily and do more peeling than sticking.
Avoid Unideal High-End Options
On the other hand, if you go for the most expensive ones out there, then they’re probably going to look like real tiles. (Perhaps they may even be made of glass or stone, thus eliminating the whole ‘lightweight’ benefit). They will also stick like crazy, and not give you much wiggle room for fixing any initial installation woopsies.
Choose Middle-Level for Best Results
That’s why I like to shop right in the middle of the market. For the most part, these are the peel-and-stick tiles that look great, are a bit forgiving while installing, and stick quite well once you really press them down.
Compare Cost with Price Per Square Foot
When shopping, just remember to compare price per square foot, because sheet size and package size varies for every brand and style! Make sure you know how many square feet you need to cover (plus a few extra for weird cuts and mistakes) before you finalize your purchase.
Tips & Tricks for Peel-and-Stick Tile Installation
Once your tile and area is selected, it is time for installation! Follow these tips for best results …
Prep & Measure the Area
As with any wall makeover, the first step is prep. Fix any major damage spots, and clean your wall thoroughly, especially the areas behind or near stoves and sinks. Use dish soap and water or a degreaser, like Simple Green.
Once dry, find the longest horizontal section you want to cover, and use a pencil and level to draw a reference line all the way across this section. You will use this line to make sure each tile sheet is actually level instead of using a counter or cabinet or corner as a leveling reference.
I have found it easiest to hold a tile sheet against the wall where I plan on starting (with the backing still on it). Then I mark the wall at either the top, bottom, or middle of the tile sheet (depending on where I’m starting on the wall). And finally, I draw my level reference line through that mark.
Place the Peel-and-Stick Tiles Carefully
Most peel-and-stick tiles have a ‘grout look’ built into them and require some overlap in order to maintain consistent spacing in the ‘grout’ areas. Every one of this kind that I have worked with are set up and pre-cut to work left to right.
After you install a few full sheets (from left to right, using your horizontal reference line), you will get a better understanding of how the tiles fit together and the amount of overlap needed. This understanding will help you once you start to cut and fit smaller pieces and weird nooks. Also, be sure to maintain this overlap once you start working vertically, or the separation between tile sheets will be glaringly obvious!
When it’s a straight cut you need, it’s probably best to measure the wall area and the peel-and-stick tile sheet and use some good scissors to make your cut. But when you have a curved cut to make, it’s usually easier to stick up your tiles, and then cut around your shape with a sharp knife or razor blade.
Sometimes, especially in hard-to-reach places or with hard-to-cut tiles, I will tape a sheet of paper up, trace the contours I need to cut, then use that paper as a cutting stencil on the peel-and-stick tile sheet. Remember to keep all your scraps because they will likely come in handy somewhere in your project.
Should RVers Use Extra Adhesive on Tiles?
Of course, RVs tend to experience more drastic temperature fluctuations than most peel-and-stick tiles are designed to withstand. So once you settle on a design you love, a little extra adhesive certainly wouldn’t hurt.
Personally, I recommend a silicon-based adhesive, like Loctite, JB Weld, or Permatex, because these are also waterproof sealants and are easy to remove. (But they are not paintable, so be careful when applying; clean off any spillover or mistakes with acetone, or wait until glue dries and just peel or scrape it off).
On a personal note, I have experience with over six varieties of peel-and-stick tiles and never used extra adhesive. I had one set of peel-and-stick tiles that messed with my nerves from the beginning so I got rid of them and wrote them a bad review (and they are no longer available).
One other set of peel-and-stick tiles started to lift a little after my RV sat unused for a year, and I was ready to replace them anyway. But I like projects, and I change my decor a lot. If you want your peel-and-stick tiles to last, adhere away!
Popular & Recommended Peel-and-Stick Tiles for RVs
Subway tiles are a very popular option. These medium-sized rectangular tiles create an optical illusion by extending your eye across the space and making it seem larger than it really is. Art3d subway tiles in white or marble are highly rated on Amazon.
I used the “thicker version” of the Art3d peel-and-stick subway tiles in my RV bathroom (in teal), and they look just like the real ones in our local sandwich shop! (Just be careful not to bend them while installing, slide them into place like the installation video shows.)
There are some incredible things happening with 3D aluminum peel-and-stick tiles too!