Easy Faux Tile Backsplash with Eco-Friendly Wallpaper

APR 17, 2018 updated May 27, 2021
Tea towel in “Featherland White/Gray” by leanne

Whether you’re a renter with creative taste or you’re saving up for your dream kitchen renovation, a removable wallpaper backsplash is one of the easiest ways to update your space. It’s also an eco-friendly option: Spoonflower’s Smooth Wallpaper is made with up to 10% post-consumer waste and is actually eligible for LEED credits. Plus, you can recycle any scraps or the entire panels if you ever decided to refresh your space with something new.

It took us just 3 hours to cover a long gallery wall in my kitchen: approximately 2 hours to hang the paper, and 1 hour of me driving my husband Dan crazy by re-positioning each wallpaper panel for the best repeat. Follow along to see our process!

 

Materials

  • Custom rolls of Smooth Wallpaper ($6/foot) – You can also use peel-and-stick Woven Wallpaper ($8/ft), which has a bit of texture and doesn’t require water activation
  • Paint tray with clean water
  • Unused small paint roller
  • Utility knife
  • Clean sponge
  • Scissors (optional)
  • A friend for an extra set of hands

Helpful hint:

I highly recommend ordering a sample swatch of the wallpaper design ($6-8/swatch) you love first to make sure the scale is to your taste. If you find a design you love but the scale doesn’t suit you, Spoonflower allows you to message the designer to ask if they’ll create another scale for you. Most will be happy to do so!

Before you get started, I also recommend reviewing our installation video tutorials.

Step 1:

Measure your backsplash at its greatest height and round up to the next foot if need be. This will be the custom length you’ll need to order for every roll, regardless of whether your wall varies in height. (For example, if your backsplash is 26” at its greatest height but 18” at its shortest, you’ll still need to order all 3-foot high rolls.) This is to ensure that the pattern will repeat perfectly. I know this because I tried to get away with some 2-foot rolls and the pattern did not repeat perfectly—lesson learned. Don’t forget: the wallpaper you don’t use is recyclable! You could even use the leftovers to line a few drawers in the kitchen.

Now measure the length of the wall, round up to the nearest foot, and divide that number by 2 ft. Round up to the nearest whole number if needed to find out the number of rolls you’ll need to order. (For example, a wall that is 10 ft + 11” long will require 6 rolls of wallpaper.) Now you can order your custom rolls from Spoonflower.

Pro tip: If math isn’t your strong suit, use the handy coverage calculator tool on any wallpaper design page to help determine your wallpaper needs.

Step 2:

Prep your space. We found that unrolling the wallpaper and using light books to weigh the paper flat for a day makes it easier to maneuver. It might go without saying, but first remove all of your outlet covers and take a sponge to your wall to clean up any dust/dirt. Since you’ll be working with water to apply the wallpaper, it’s a good idea to turn off the power running to the outlets on your specific wall.

Step 3:

Wet the back of one sheet of paper with a paint roller dipped in water until it’s damp, but not soaked. Fold the top and bottom edges into the middle to “book” the paper for 3-5 minutes, which activates the adhesive.

Action shot of “booking” the wallpaper to activate the adhesive. I cut some of the extra wallpaper to help get around awkward changes in height under the oven vent hood.

Step 4:

Begin hanging the wallpaper from the edge of one wall. Repeat step 3 to activate another roll, and make sure to overlap the paper ¾” to connect the repeat properly.

Tip: For areas that change in height (like under an oven hood), we tried to make the installation easier by hanging up a dry sheet of wallpaper first and marking the paper in pencil where it would be folded up against the inside/underside of the cabinet. We then used scissors to cut out a rectangle in the dry paper with the approximate shape of the cabinet that would be overlapped. BE GENEROUS and overestimate your markings/cuts if you try this method, you can always use a utility knife to remove any extra paper away later, but you can’t add it back.

Step 5:

After you hang a roll, lightly dampen a clean sponge and smooth any bubbles or crinkles. You can also lift the paper to reposition it as long as it’s still dampit’s very forgiving.

Step 6:

Let the wallpaper dry for at least 20 minutes, and then go back with a utility knife to trim the edges. My husband thinks it’s easier to do this when the paper is still a bit damp, so he can use the sponge to smooth down any edges that might have curled up, but some people prefer to wait to trim until the wall is dry. Once the wallpaper is completely dry after several hours, rehang any outlet covers or pictures.

That’s it! You’ve added some intrigue to your kitchen on a budget. It’s also a fun and eco-friendly way to try out a trend, from subway tiles to Spanish tiles. Tag #spoonflower with your backsplash so we can see how you update your space.

Happy renovating,
Suz

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  • Jodi Madden-Safruk

    Hi, I’m thinking of doing this but wondering how to finish the look where the counter and cupboards end. Or should I just wallpaper the whole wall?

    • Hi Jodi,

      We’re excited to hear you’re interested in recreating this project! While Suz has the backsplash just underneath her cabinets, you could certainly continue the design through the rest of the wall. -Meredith from Spoonflower

  • Hi,
    just seen your website the wallpaper is amazing so trendy, easy to install
    I was thinking do you give out samples , so we could match paint up
    At the moment the tiles are on the back splash,hate them,they are dark from they
    original build ten years ago , we would like to have a smooth surface ,we would have
    to go over them with a concrete of some sort
    Or would you have any suggestions

    Thanks
    Ann

    • Hi Ann! I think that sounds like an interesting project. We haven’t formally tested that scenario, but you could absolutely order a test swatch and try it yourself. We offer a test swatch (2′ x 1′) of any of our designs on wallpaper for under $8!

  • Hi Suz,

    I had thought about doing this and had actually asked spoonflower if this was a fire safe option. But they said they hadn’t done any testing to guarantee the product. I was also concerned about the maintenance with cleaning it.

    I’m keen to know how has it weathered after cooking with food splatters, oil, etc and cleaning?

    Thanks Sharnee.

    • Hi Sharnee,

      Great question. We’ve had the wallpaper up for about 3 months now, and we cook on our gas stove pretty regularly. I’ve used a non-scratch scrub sponge to clean a few food splatters, and I don’t see any damage to the paper. I typically use a $5 mesh splatter screen I got at World Market if I’m doing any hot oil/high fat sautéing just to keep the splatters down, so I haven’t seen how the paper does with oil yet. But light, general cleaning has been fine so far. Hope that helps!

      Suz