Do you have a factory RV that you’re itching to renovate or personalize but don’t know where to start? Swapping out a generic backsplash for something that’s more reflective of your own taste is a low-cost and low-risk project that’ll also make a big impact.
What You’ll Need
First off, you’ll need to pick out your backsplash. My favorite product to use is a quality vinyl backsplash like this one; it’s a great option if you want more design choices. If you’re looking for a more traditional peel-and-stick tile that isn’t sold in a roll, both TicTac Tiles and Nomad Tiles have good reviews.
Most peel-and-stick adhesive, no matter how good, isn’t made to withstand the temperature variations that an RV typically experiences. Because of this, add extra adhesive when applying any peel-and-stick products in RVs. Use basic wallpaper paste when applying vinyl backsplash from a roll, and small amounts of construction adhesive on the edges of peel-and-stick tiles. You can skip this step, but you’ll most likely have edges that will start to peel up anytime it’s warm.
- Scissors for cutting the material.
- A razor blade for cutting excess material once the tile is applied to the wall.
- A tape measure for finding the center of your wall.
- A pencil for marking your centerline.
- Cleaning supplies. You need to clean the wall before applying the backsplash tile for proper adhesion. I use a heavy-duty degreaser or a paint prep product like trisodium phosphate (TSP).
- A plastic squeegee to smooth down the backsplash—if you’re using the vinyl backsplash type from a roll.
Now that you have everything gathered and ready, it’s time to get started.
Step 1: Removal
If the area you’re applying the backsplash to has an existing backsplash, then you’ll need to remove it. The easiest way to remove a backsplash is to warm it with a hairdryer or heat gun, then gently pry it up and pull it off slowly, while still warming the area. Once it’s fully removed, use the degreaser or TSP to clean off the adhesive residue. If it isn’t coming off, try an adhesive remover like this one.
Step 2: Cleaning and Prep
After the adhesive is removed, scrub the area with a degreaser or TSP so the new backsplash can adhere. Sand down any imperfections with a 220 or similar grit sandpaper. Give the area a quick wipedown after any sanding.
Step 3: Measure Your Center
Use the tape measure to find the center of your work area and draw a line down the middle with your pencil. You’ll use this to line up your first pieces. Work from the center outward to ensure a balanced look.
Step 4: Cut and Dry Fit
Dry fit the first few pieces to get an idea of how the area will look. Every subsequent piece will be based off of the first ones, so make sure that the tiles are straight, in line with center, and look good. If you’re using a vinyl roll, measure your height, add 0.5 inches, and then cut. Do this for two lengths and then dry fit them against the centerline.
Step 5: Place Your Tiles
Once you’re confident where you want to place the first pieces, it’s time to adhere them to the wall. Peel the backing off of the top of the backsplash, place it in line with the centerline, and then slowly peel the rest of the backing off while pressing the tile to the wall—if you’re using a vinyl sheet, leave 0.25 inches at the top and bottom. Use a plastic squeegee to apply the vinyl backsplash to press out any bubbles or wrinkles. Don’t rush the process, and gently lift up the tiles if you need to reposition them.
Step 6: Cutting the Tiles in Place
Use the utility knife to cut the excess vinyl backsplash and to cut around any outlets, cabinets, or corners. You can use the plastic squeegee as a guide while cutting with the knife.
Step 7: Repeat
Continue placing tiles or vinyl sheets until the entire area is covered. If you aren’t happy with your edges, trim them with quarter round molding to give a finished look. This also helps to keep any edges from peeling up.
Pro Tips for Adding Peel and Stick Tile to Your RV
- If you choose not to use extra adhesive and your tile edges do start to peel, quickly touch them up with a small amount of super glue.
- The more time you spend preparing your surface, the better it will look and the better the tiles will adhere. Don’t rush the prep.
- Buy at least 20 percent more backsplash than you think you’ll need. In order for everything to line up and fit around any windows, outlets, etc., you’ll need extra. There’s nothing worse than running out of material halfway through a project.
Other RV Backsplash Upgrade Ideas
Not sure if peel-and-stick tiles are the right option for your RV backsplash? Here are a few other options.
Brick paneling or faux shiplap (made from 5-millimeter underlayment) are also attractive backsplash options. Both materials can be painted with a semi- or high-gloss paint to make them water resistant and easy to clean.
A stencil is a cost-effective backsplash option that allows you to choose from thousands of designs and color options.
You can use real tile in an RV, but it can’t be installed like it would be in a traditional house. Any mortar and grout needs to have flex.
Frequently Asked Questions
Peel-and-stick tile does work in an RV. Be sure to use a high-quality material and add extra adhesive to withstand the temperature variations of an RV.
You can put real tile in an RV with the use of proper adhesive and flexible grout. Find an in-depth tutorial online before attempting.
Check any product you plan on using as a backsplash to make sure that it’s water resistant. Peel-and-stick tiles aren’t traditionally waterproof.
Most peel-and-stick tiles aren’t rated for showers. Some peel-and-stick vinyl tiles can be used over an existing RV shower, but not as a replacement for shower walls.
Updating and personalizing your RV backsplash doesn’t need to be an overwhelming process. With a little bit of prep you can change the feel of your RV in just a few hours. Take your time and enjoy the process.