Inside: Tips for how to use Smart Tiles to update a back splash in one weekend with peel and stick subway tiles. A full how-to tutorial with a supply list.
It’s high time I got to blogging about all the projects we have going on in the house right now. I’ve been in head down ‘get it done’ mode and haven’t had much time to sit down and write a post! I’ve had tons of questions about our new Smart Tile Peel and Stick Back Splash since I started sharing snippets on Instagram. So even though I’m not finished the project yet (I still have trim work and some touch up painting to do) – I thought I could at least share with you how we installed the tiles and how they are holding up after about ten days in our busy kitchen.
If you’re also wondering – I’m no stranger to the back splash and peel and stick tile projects LOL – we originally couldn’t decide on what to do with our kitchen, so we installed a super inexpensive $60 bead board backsplash when we first moved in. I also recently used peel and stick floor tiles in our tiny powder room. Smart Tiles are designed for walls only – so this was a new adventure for us.
Smart Tiles graciously provided us with the tiles for our project for our review of the experience.
How to Prepare to Install a Smart Tile Peel and Stick Back Splash
Preparation is key when you are using a product like Smart Tiles. They are designed to go in easily and last – but if you don’t properly prep your surface or if you don’t use the recommended tools, you can mess up the install and the tiles won’t adhere properly.
We started our tiling by removing the existing bead board back splash as carefully as possible. We didn’t want to cause any unnecessary damage to the wall. Smart Tiles don’t work well on textured surfaces (like if you have that orange peel type texture on your walls) and they also don’t work on freshly painted surfaces. So we just wanted to remove the bead board and avoid as many repairs as possible. If you don have fresh paint, you have to wait 21 days before installing the Smart Tiles.
Once we had the bead board down, we cleaned every surface with TSP cleaner and degreaser to get it as smooth and dirt free as possible.
What are Smart Tiles and How are they Different from Regular Tiles
Smart Tiles are essentially peel and stick tiles that are made to look like ceramic. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colours and styles and all of them fit together slightly differently.
We chose to go with a neutral subway tile style and ended up with the Metro Blanco for the main parts of our walls. We also ordered a small sampling of the Gallo Vintage for the shelf nook (which I will reveal to you when the whole project is complete!)
These tiles are different in two ways (that I can tell). For one they are quite light and thin which makes them very easy to cut (unlike the floor tiles we used in the bathroom). They are also quite glossy, which is a contrast to other peel and stick tiles that tend to be more matte IMHO.
How to Install Smart Tile Peel and Stick Tiles
Just because they are peel and stick, doesn’t mean the install is easy. You will still need some basic tools and to do some serious measuring in order to achieve a real tile look. As with any tiling job, start in the most visible area of the room and work outwards. I drew a plumb line at the top of my bottom most tile and lined them up that way. Smart Tiles are meant to have a slight overlap, which can be tricky to achieve. They are quite sticky once you remove the adhesive backing and you really only have a couple of repositions before they won’t stick very well, so you do have to work quickly and be precise.
I used a spare remnant of MDF from my shop, a straight edge carpenter’s square and a utility knife to cut my tiles to size. The only word of warning I’ll give here is that your blade has to be SHARP or your tile won’t cut smoothly. With a nice sharp blade, they cut like butter.
Installing Smart Tiles around Outlets and Windows
I knew this was going to be the trickiest part of our job and as I got to this point in the kitchen, I was glad we hadn’t decided to use real ceramic tile – because the cutting and the tiny weird measurements would have gotten on my nerves. Once you measure out your dimensions for your outlets and/or window frames, the tiles cut just like anything else. Measure, mark, cut, position and smooth. It’s really that simple. I’m proud to say, I did the entire kitchen and didn’t make one bad cut!!
Why we chose Smart Tiles instead of Ceramic Tiles
I had a few people ask this question and the answer is two-fold. The Smart Tiles were started and finished in one weekend with very little mess. The only disruption we had was on the first night and we just ordered take out. The second reason was ease of install. Our kitchen is not builder new. The entire thing is crooked and old and we knew that installing real tiles ALL OVER the kitchen would mean compromising on the quality of the work – mainly because neither of us is a tile expert and it would have been our first time attempting a job of that size.
At the end of the day, this solution was perfect for us and it definitely marks a new life for this teeny tiny cuisine. We dream of a full renovation. Having drawers that don’t squeak and squeal. Maybe even having an accessible corner cabinet…
A girl can dream right?
But we know a renovation of that size might price us out of a profit on this house…so we are treading lighting and doing cosmetic improvements that clean up the kitchen, brighten it and make it look more modern.
Other Bloggers who have had Success with Smart Tiles
- My friend Katie from Little House of Four installed hers in 2015
- Pretty Handy Girl used them in her bathroom
- A Cup Full of Sass also installed them in her kitchen
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