There’s been a lot of talk recently about peel and stick tiles (also called self-adhesive tiles or vinyl tiles) and DIY Instagrammers have been decorating up a storm, using them anywhere from caravans to kitchens. On the surface they definitely appear cheaper than ceramic or porcelain tiles, but will they actually save you money?
They’re tiles… kinda
Firstly, peel and stick tiles are an imitation surface, designed to look like wood and tile. They are usually made from vinyl and can be place on top of or instead of existing floors and walls. Other kinds of self-adhesive tiles act more like decorative stickers that you can stick over plain tiles to add unique features, colours and motifs. They’re a lot like tiles in how they look, but that’s pretty much where the similarities ends.
Where they work
Peel and stick tiles can be perfect for mobile homes, caravans, and spaces that need to be mindful of weight limitations. They also don’t require specialists and tilers to install them, and can be quite forgiving when it comes to cuts and mistakes, making them a viable option if you’re planning a DIY project.
However, preparation is still extremely important to ensure they stick well and stay stuck. Removing any dirt and grease is essential to prevent tiles from peeling or falling off completely. If your chosen wall or floor is textured, this will also have to be smoothed out before applying your tiles.
Because they are affordable (and we’ll get into that later) they can be a good stepping-stone for design, allowing you to play around with colours, shapes, textures, and aesthetics, without committing to a large spend. They can also be a quick temporary fix whilst you work out your budget and interior scheme.
Due to the nature of the material, peel and stick tiles are best suited to places that don’t see much wear and tear from daily life, otherwise they can begin to look tired and broken quite easily.
Where they don’t work
Peel and stick tiles are not fire safe so they are not a good option for oven or fire surrounds. They are also not waterproof and so may require extra sealing or caulking if you want to place them near a sink or in a bathroom. Caution should also be taken when placing tiles in areas that will be frequented by members of the household constantly, especially if some of those members are muddy dogs, as frequent cleaning will likely lower the lifespan of the peel and sticks.
If you’re a stickler for detail, it’s important to recognise that peel and stick tiles will not and do not look like real tiles up close. They have a different texture, faux grout lines, and an entirely different finish. If you’re planning on placing them somewhere you see up close and personal every day, peel and stick might not be for you.
For the environmentally conscious, a short-term décor solution many not be on the cards and the chances are that peel and stick tiles will have to be replaced at least once or twice within your lifetime, adding lots of potential waste to the process.
So.. about the money
The cost of peel and stick tiles obviously depends on where you get them from, but generally they are around a third of the cost of their real tile equivalents. However some standard designs (such as a plain white metro) can actually be cheaper in tile form.
Another cost to consider is installation and the cost of hiring a professional. For peel and stick tiles, they can easily be cut with a scalpel and installed by yourself. But plenty of real tiles don’t require specialists or tilers and can be a project for an avid DIYer.
However, real tiles do require a bit of preparation before they’re laid – levelling, crack-prevention membranes, and grouts can all add to the cost of tiling, but that’s all in the name of future-proofing and ensuring the surface maintains its look and function for decades to come.
If they are kept well, maintained properly, and don’t see much action, peel and stick tiles could last between 5 and 25 years. Real tiles have a much longer life, usually lasting between 75 and 100 years, or even much longer. Provided you don’t move or decide to redecorate, that’s between 3 and 20 times longer than a peel and stick tile’s life. Once lifespan is accounted for, it can offset the price difference between the options.
Whether to peel and stick or to tile depends entirely on budget, design, and needs, but it’s important to remember that what’s cheap now many not always be cheap in the long run.