In my sticks and bricks home I used peel and stick tiles for our kitchen because I thought tiling sounded difficult and out of my skill yet. I also thought peel and stick would be cheaper (more on that later). If I'm being honest, I don't love the tile in my kitchen, but at the time peel and stick options were limited. I planned on using it again in the RV and even found some that I thought would do the trick. Then, on one fated trip to Lowes, I happened across the tile that now resides in The Little Beach House...and I fell...hard. Like middle school first crush hard. I had to have this tile, it was perfect. So I did some research and gave it ago. It wasn't as hard as I expected but there's definitely some things that I wish someone had told me...so I'm telling you.
I found these tiles at Lowes. I loved the whites and beachy colors that they have. I also like that they have the marble speckled throughout because eventually I'm going to do the counters in faux marble paint. They have just enough glam without being overtly so. They were $6.98 per piece which measured 11 inches by 15 inches. All in all not too bad a price. One thing I didn't realize is that because some of the tiles were glass and some were porcelain, I would need two different types of cutters.
Lowes actually didn't have glass tile cutters. I wish I could tell you why. The nice man at the store couldn't tell me why, but they don't. Which is a big pain in the neck. At any rate they do have porcelain cutters, I figured that there couldn't be much difference so I tried them. You know when they say don't do this at home? Well, don't do this at home. The porcelain tile cut no problem. However when I went to do the glass tile, it shattered in a million pieces all over my camper. So I tried two or three more tile cutters, none worked. Finally after resigning to giving up my beautiful tiles and wasting a lot...I found some at Home Depot, If you want to save yourself a trip, they also sell them online for way less than what I paid. They have a scorer that lets you score before cutting and it makes all the difference. Just spring for the right ones and save yourself the time and aggravation, it is not worth trying all the "tricks" to cut them with the wrong tool...trust me.
One of the things I was most concerned about was the mortar part. I reallllly didn't want to have to get a big bag and mix it up in a bucket. I used to work for a masonry supply company (bet you didn't know that) and I'm totally down with the five gallon bucket thing. I just didn't want to buy the mixer tool, and I didn't need that much since it was such a small space. I had read about a peel and stick tile mat that you could adhere the tiles too. I did a little research and it had good reviews so I figured, why not? You guys.....you guys......this is everything! It made the job so much easier (and cleaner). You can cut the mat to the space, stick it, and boom your real tiles are basically now peel and stick tiles. I will definitely be using this again in the future. One roll covers 15 square feet, so I only need one for my project, but you may need more. It's definitely worth it. I bought mine at Lowes, it was a little tricky to find so you may have to ask someone for help. If you want to buy it online, Amazon has the Simplemat brand, which I read good things about, although I haven't used it myself.
Okay so let's tile. When you're ready, wash down the wall. I used this orange cleaner. I love it and it really does cut any grease. It's also great for transferring images to fabric like these DIY Dishtowels that I made. We had freshly painted the walls so there wasn't much residue, but it's a good idea none the less.
Next, lay out your tiles in the pattern that you want. You don't have to have it perfect, but it will make the job go much quicker. This is especially true if you are using a mosaic tile where you have to line up the next set to match.
Work in sections. This was easier for me because with the peel and stick mat there is no set time that the tiles have to be up unlike traditional mortar. I still however wouldn't cover the whole back splash. Pick a section. Measure the mat and cut it and stick it up. When you're ready remove the protective film and apply the tiles. Again, I would remove it as you do each section, not all at once. You should press down firmly for 5-10 seconds to make sure they adhere properly.
If you need to make cuts, do so over a barrel. Use a glass tile cutter to score (run the wheel) down the line of where you are cutting. Next, use the wheels like a clamp to snap it. Be gentler than you think with snapping because the glass is fragile. For porcelain you can use a regular tile cutter, line it up where you want to cut and clamp down as if you were using scissors.
There is a little forgiveness with the mastic. If you make a mistake, you can pull the tile off as long as it's immediate. If you let it sit more than 30 seconds you're going to have trouble. I did the big portions and then went back and cut the “end” pieces (where the pattern maybe had a half tile or something) and filled in the gaps. Again because of the mastic it was easy to do.
That's really it. Once it's all done you can grout (I still have to do that step) but all in all it is very simple. It think the peel and stick mastic was key to this for me, so I really think if it's your first time you should try it.
As far as cost goes, the traditional tiles themselves were actually cheaper by the square foot than peel and sticks. However once you add in the mortar, grout, and tools it's slightly more, though I think it's a negligible difference. I spent around $80 on the tiles, $25 on the mastic and $19 on the tile cutters.
One final thing to consider if you're not putting this in a traditional home is weight. Our RV is stationary so it wasn't a concern for me. I'm really glad I tried this, it honestly gave me the confidence to do our kitchen at home now. That's the thing with DIY. It's not about knowing how to do everything, it's about being willing to try something and make a mistake or two..but end up with something really cool in the end. I'm really proud of this little kitchen and I am already enjoying cooking meals in it! What DIY project are you most proud of? Have you ever used peel and stick mastic?
A few sources for those that have asked:
The sink is from Amazon.
The Microwave is from Amazon
The futon is from Amazon
The curtains are from Ocean State Job Lots (I can't find a link but these are similar)
The contact paper is from Lowes
The mugs are Rae Dunn from TJ Maxx
The Wine Rack holder is from Amazon
The rug is from Christmas Tree Shop (sold out buthere is a similar rug).
Let me know if you have any questions! I'd love to see your project if you decide to tile!