Peel and stick tiles are an easier alternative to true ceramic or other hard tiles, and they’re often much cheaper. They’re perfect for low-moisture areas like kitchens or even bathroom floors. When it comes to your shower, however, you should consider investing in a more waterproof option.
It is possible to use peel and stick tile in a shower, but it’s not recommended. The adhesive that sticks the tile to the walls is not always waterproof, which causes problems with mold and durability. Because there’s no grout, the spaces between each section of tile can have gaps that promote mold and mildew.
Does Peel And Stick Tile Work In Showers?
You can technically use peel and stick tiles on your shower floors and walls, but the results won’t last as long as traditional tiles, and it could end up costing you more.
You should only use stick-on bathroom tiles in your shower when you have no other option.
The ease of installation can also be outweighed by the maintenance. You’ll likely have to replace the tiles more frequently, and you also have to be very careful with mold. The nature of self-adhesive tiles means there’s no need for grout, but it’s an important defense against mold and mildew.
With only the back adhesive, you could end up with gaps between your tiles and your flat surfaces. Stick-on tiles promote mold more than their grouted counterparts.
These cautions are only for tiles that are in direct contact with the shower spray, however, such as on the main walls of the shower or on the shower floor.
Otherwise, self-adhesive tiles can be a great material to spruce up your bathroom. There are a lot of design options, and they’re easy to apply and inexpensive if you pick the right kind.
Quality peel and stick is not just printed on a flat sheet; it actually has a 3D surface, usually a gel or even hard materials like glass or stone.
You should also buy extra in case of damage since different styles can be quickly discontinued by the manufacturer.
How long does peel and stick tile last in a shower?
If you perfectly prepare and maintain it, peel and stick tile can last between 3 and 7 years in a shower. It’s not easy to install perfectly, though, and often it can fail within 6 months because of the constant exposure to water.
Are Peel And Stick Tiles Waterproof?
The front of stick-on tiles is waterproof. The issue with using them in your shower is the adhesive on the back of the tiles. This material is rarely waterproof.
Some self-adhesive tiles are resistant to humidity, but this is very different from withstanding direct contact with water for a long period of time.
How To Waterproof Peel and Stick Tiles
It’s difficult to completely waterproof the backing of peel and stick tiles, but you can take some steps to reduce the chances of mold.
Stick-on tiles don’t require additional glue or grout, but you should consider caulking the edges and using tile cement or grout between the joints for extra protection.
Always use the exhaust fan in your bathroom during showers or baths. You should also use a dehumidifier after each shower and wipe the tiles dry each time to prevent the build-up of mildew and mold.
Product Selection Tips
There are no major brands that produce peel and stick tiles suitable for showers. Some may advertise their products as shower-safe, but the labeling will often warn against using them in high-moisture environments.
Any product that says it’s waterproof, water-resistant, or designed for high-humidity areas can work in the rest of your bathroom.
Gel and vinyl or PVC are the most common types of stick-on tile, and they’re by far the cheapest. If you want something closer to the real thing, glass, metal, and stone stick-on tiles are available as well. These can be almost as expensive as regular tiles, however, so choose wisely.
Be careful with heavier tiles like stone in areas with a lot of moisture; their weight requires a strong adhesive, but it can be weakened by water. They also may require special cleaning products as well.
Installing Peel and Stick Tiles (5 Easy Steps)
If you absolutely have to use self-adhesive tile, follow these installation steps to help it last as long as possible.
What You Will Need:
- Cleaning spray
- Cleaning cloth
- Box cutter or another sharp blade
- Thick protective gloves (optional)
- Tape measure
- Caulk gun with silicone caulking (optional)
- Sealant (optional)
- Grout (optional)
- Clean paintbrush
1. Measure Your Shower
Before you buy your tiles, measure the area you want to cover. Be sure to buy enough material for your space; it’s always better to get a little extra than not get enough.
If you buy too much, you can always take any unopened material back to the store. Or you can keep the extra in case there’s any damage to the tiles in the future.
2. Clean and Prepare Your Surface
You should always begin any project with a clean and dry surface. Spray your shower wall or floor with a cleaning product of your choice, then wipe dry with a cleaning cloth. You should avoid vigorous scrubbing so you don’t damage any tiles you already have.
3. Measure And Mark Your Tiles
Using the measurements from step one, mark your tiles on the back so you know where to cut. Remember the rule of thumb for any DIY project: measure twice, cut once. Take your time to make sure you’re cutting in the right spot.
If there are any fixtures or trimming in the path of the tile, make sure to mark off those sections. You can put the tiles against their intended surface and use a marker to draw around any of these obstacles.
4. Cut And Apply Your Tiles
Following your marks, cut your tile with your scissors on the “grout” lines. If there are any odd shapes on your shower wall, you can trim the actual tiles with a utility knife or other sharp blade. If you need to use anything sharper than scissors, wear gloves made from a thick, protective material like leather.
Carefully peel off the backing from the adhesive. Moving from one top corner towards the middle, apply the tile to your shower wall or shower floor.
Use your level to make sure your lines are even. If needed, make any adjustments with your scissors or blade.
Even though they have their own adhesive, caulk can seal the seams between each section of your tiles. This can help discourage the growth of mildew below the tiles.
If you’re using caulk, apply a thin line to the edges where the tile meets the floor or wall. Let dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions, usually 24 to 48 hours. There are methods you can use to speed up the curing time of caulk, as well.
5. Seal Your Tiles (Optional)
Sealant can be used to help waterproof the back of peel and stick tiles. Choose a sealant that goes best with your tiles; some of them can affect the appearance of textured tiles.
Using your clean paintbrush, apply your chosen sealant in a thin layer over the surface of your tiles. Allow the sealant to cure based on the product’s specifications and be sure it follows the adhesive and sealant emission standards from the EPA.
Maintaining Your Tiles
Always use the exhaust fan in your bathroom during showers or baths. Use a dehumidifier after each shower and wipe the tiles dry each time. This will discourage the build-up of mildew and mold.
5 Alternative Methods
1. Shower Wall Panels
These panels are made of laminate or composite material and cover your entire shower wall.
They are a little harder to install and more expensive, but they’re waterproof as opposed to water-resistant. Because of this, they’ll last for years on your shower walls.
2. Ceramic Tile
Ceramic tile is a much more traditional option for showers, as it’s waterproof and durable. It does take a lot more effort than stick-on tiles, as well as specialty tools.
3. Glass Tile
Like ceramic, glass tiles are a more traditional option, and they look great in a bathroom. They’re easy to clean, but they can also be heavy, and may require more heavy-duty grout.
4. Natural Stone
Stone is the most durable option for tiling, but it’s also one of the hardest to install and maintain. The other alternatives listed here have about the same maintenance level as self-adhesive tile, but stone often needs more frequent maintenance and specific cleaning products.
5. Tile Varnish and Paint
This option is for lower budgets and for those who want to cover up wall tiles without removing them. You can apply tile varnish and tile paint with a brush or paint roller, and they dry quickly to a waterproof finish.
It’s not the most seamless of options, but it can do in a pinch to cover old tiles.
Can You Use Peel And Stick Tile On A Bathroom Floor?
Peel and stick tiles are very handy for use in the bathroom, as long as it’s not in the shower itself. They’re resistant to humidity and offer a way to spruce up a bathroom without much labor.
You can use self-adhesive tile on your bathroom floor and walls, as long as the area stays dry most of the time. It’s a good idea to waterproof your bathroom floor no matter what, since there will always be some humidity in a bathroom.
Stick-on tiles meant for kitchen backsplashes are good to use in bathrooms as well since they’re resistant to heat, humidity, and the occasional splash of water.
Can you put peel and stick tiles over a fiberglass shower?
Fiberglass showers are more prone to scratches than other types of showers. Putting tiles, even self-adhesive ones, over fiberglass can actually offer some protection for these types of showers.
Just like any other shower, though, if the area to which you’re applying the stick-on tiles is in direct contact with water, they will likely not last more than a few months.
Can you use peel and stick tile over ceramic?
Yes, the adhesive on most stick-on tiles will work overtop of ceramic tile. Non-textured tile will provide the best grip for the adhesive. Always read the manufacturer’s recommendations and clean your surface before applying.
Be sure to line up your new tiles with the ceramic tile underneath. Any gaps between the tile adhesive and the grout indentations can cause mildew and reduce the lifespan of the tiles.
If needed, you can fill in the gaps between the ceramic tiles with more grout so you have a more level surface to which the stick-on tiles can adhere.
How do you remove peel and stick tile?
Be aware that most peel and stick tiles are not meant to be temporary. If you’re not careful, you can damage your walls when you try to remove the tiles.
If you want to refresh your old or broken self-adhesive tile, you can try using heat to remove it. A heat gun or hairdryer will gently soften the adhesive of the tiles and make them easier to remove.
You can also use a putty knife or scraper to carefully pry the tile away after it’s been heated. Be sure to remove any adhesive still sticking to the wall before applying any new material.
A shower should be a place of calm and relaxation. You don’t want to worry about replacing falling tiles or cleaning up nasty mildew all the time.
If you’re on a very tight budget or limited home improvement skills, you can use peel and stick tile in a shower, but it’s not the most efficient choice. Traditional tiling is easier to maintain and lasts longer, which makes it cheaper in the long run.
Self-adhesive tile can be used to great effect elsewhere in your bathroom, but it should really be a last resort for your shower.