I think the backsplash is one of the biggest statements in a kitchen. While the kitchen in our new place was nice and new, it was pretty boring and the backsplash was no exception. Being renters, we couldn’t and didn’t really want to fully replace the tile backsplash, so I began to look for temporary and removable alternatives. I found several great options, but ultimately decided on Tic-Tac Tiles – I’ll detail the options I considered and the installation process below.
Ever since I’ve started thinking about decorating our new place, I’ve been obsessed with subway tiles (maybe a soft spot from my years living in NYC). So…all the options I looked into are for subway tiles, but all of these options have many other patterns, colors, etc. so get creative!
The first option I seriously considered was contact/wall paper over the tiles. I found this great post from M.E. Russell on Curbly about how to use wall paper to do this. I loved the textured peel and stick paper she used from Target and she clearly outlines every step of the process with great photos along the way. I ultimately decided that I wanted a bit more of a 3D look, but this is a great, super affordable idea to change up your backsplash.
After looking into more 3D options, I discovered the world of stick-on tiles. These provide a great removable option, that looks much more like real tile. They are designed to be heat and humidity resistant and are easy to find online and in most hardware stores. For those in the EU (as well as the US and Canada), I found Smart Tiles. I thought these looked like a great option, but they were a bit more expensive and they only had white subway tiles with white grout, and I was really hoping for more contrast.
So, as I mentioned above, I ultimately went with Tic Tac Tiles. I thought these were the cheapest option, with the best subway tiles I had seen. I would’ve loved black grout, but the grey is still enough contrast and ultimately is probably better to hide my mistakes. Unfortunately, these are not yet available in the EU so I had to do some strategic ordering and packing during my trip to the US for the holidays. They are, however, available on Amazon which made ordering even easier.
- Exacto knife
First, you need to measure the space you want to tile and find out the appropriate number of tiles to order. Tic Tac Tiles come in 12″ and 10″ squares – but be careful! The subway tiles, for example, are different sizes on the different squares, so you don’t want to combine the two. Also, I’d err on the side of caution when ordering how many you need. I measured out a 14.9 sq. ft. area for my backsplash and ordered 15 sq ft. of tiling. Due to the cutting and weird shape of the space I was tiling, this ended up not being enough and we had to live with a partially tiled backsplash while I begged my parents to ship me another 15 squares. This was an expensive mistake, but for those in the US, not a huge problem.
Once you’ve got your tiles and are ready to install, make sure you clean and dry the wall/tile area well first. The tiles stick much better to a clean area.
The first square is by far the hardest, as you can tell by the not so great job I did. I was too excited to try these tiles out and did the first one without a great ruler and a semi-functional cutting blade. I also pulled the entire backing off and tried to install this from the bottom up in one go…not the best plan. I won’t lie, after installing the first one I thought I’d made a huge mistake and waited almost a week before installing the rest. So learn from my mistakes!
In the end we actually ended up redoing the tiles on this first edge, so they looked a bit better in the end. The tricky part is that you have to cut the first edge so that it’s straight. As you can see from the picture, the squares are designed to be interlocked with the each other, so there’s no straight edge to start with. After the first one didn’t go so well, I enacted a new system which went much better. I enlisted the help of my husband to cut the tiles with the Exacto knife as he was able to press into the tiles a little more firmly and therefore get a more precise cut. These tiles are actually 3D and a little hard to cut cleanly, so you need a little muscle.
I chose to start mine on the edges of the inner tiles, so at least some of them would have matching grout. It also provides for a clear line to cut. Then, I highly recommend only peeling off the backing from the bottom squares, getting those situated and working your way up one row at a time. There will be a lot of bubbles and wrinkles, and it’s much easier to work these out as you go. Otherwise, you’ll end up having to pull the whole thing off and try again and the more you do this, the harder the tiles get to work with. Then you just continue placing the sheets, overlapping them as shown in the instructions, until you’ve covered the entire area.
The most difficult part of this process, which they don’t talk about in their tutorial, is if you have outlets or other obstacles to work around. You have to get very precise measurements, and because of the way the tiles are laid out, you end up working everything a little backwards. If you have a lot of obstacles, I’d recommend even more of a safety net when ordering tiles. We ruined at least 3 sheets in our attempts to get around the 2 outlets in our kitchen.
Ultimately, unless you are a magician, I think you’ll just have to live with some mistakes, but with most patterns I think it’s not too noticeable. The overall effect is what matters, and we’re very happy with it. These tiles add so much more personality to the kitchen and they’re easy to clean too!
Also, in case this wasn’t clear, these tiles are completely removable! You should be able to just pull them off, but you can also use a hair dryer to heat them up and help release them when you’re ready to change it up, or move out. We installed ours on top of existing tile, which worked perfectly and should be no problem when removing. I will say, however, that this might not be the best option if you’re adding a backsplash over just a plain wall, as the adhesive might pull off paint, wallpaper, etc. when it’s removed.
I hope this inspires someone out there to change up their boring backsplash! Let me know what you think in the comments below!
Also, BIG shoutout to my parents on this one for shipping us new tiles from the US! We literally couldn’t have finished this project without them! Thanks again!!