Peel-and-stick tiles are easy-to-use, self-adhesive (on the backing) sticker-type tiles that can be stuck and used on many different surfaces.
Depending on the design and style, you can use them on backsplashes in kitchens and bathrooms or on floors in your bedroom, living room, or basement. You can also put them creatively on patios and decks outdoors.
Most of these peel-and-stick tiles are made from vinyl, glass, and even metal, making them quite durable. In fact, many of these tiles already have a protective finish from the factory, and there is no need to seal them further.
However, they may not be as tough as some polyurethane finishes. And that’s the reason many homeowners and DIYers wonder if they can put polyurethane over peel-and-stick tiles.
Polyurethane is a clear, protective finish that can be applied to seal porous wood surfaces irrespective of what wood type it is.
Sealing peel-and-stick tiles using polyurethane, however, isn’t recommended as poly will not stick to smooth surfaces such as vinyl, glass, or metal.
That said, you can still use a few other sealers over peel-and-stick tiles if you want an extra layer of protection in areas that are prone to high humidity and water damage.
What are those sealers, how to use them, and what precautions should you take while sealing your peel-and-stick backsplash or flooring tiles; I will cover all those details in a minute below…
Why Do You Need to Seal Peel-and-Stick Tiles?
Peel-and-stick tiles are becoming an excellent choice for do-it-yourself installers to update their floors or backsplash installation.
These tiles, however, trap dirt and moisture in the seams/gaps between them, which causes them to loosen their effectiveness over time – you know there isn’t any grout to protect them.
Sealing the tiled floor and backsplash, therefore, makes sense as it protects the seams from pollutants and stains while also helping the tiles resist water.
You should generally seal the tiles if they are expensive and one-of-a-kind or if you live in an area with high humidity. If the tiles are cheap and you do not want the design to become dated, you may not need to take the extra hassle. You may use them without the sealer and replace them with something new and more trendy as time passes.
Whether or not to seal the tiles is purely personal and depends on your requirements. But if you do, the key to getting success here is picking the right sealer and putting it up in the right way so that it stays there and serves its purpose for a long time.
What Sealer to Use for Sealing Peel and Stick Tiles?
Well, as I said, polyurethane, being a clear plastic film, isn’t the right choice here. But there are a few other sealers that can be used to seal and protect your peel-and-stick tiles.
These are usually labeled “compatible with vinyl floor tiles.” You may choose a sealer with a sheen that you prefer, but I would like a no-sheen variety as the tiles already have some gloss.
Most of these sealers are easy to apply clear and have very little odor. But they need to be reapplied more often than other types of sealers.
As an alternative to sealers, you can also use clear silicone caulk on the seams of peel-and-stick vinyl floor tiles, which can effectively make a tight seal. Ensure that you apply it evenly and wipe the excess off with a scraper before it dries.
How to Seal Peel and Stick Tiles – Step-by-Step Instructions
Peel and stick backsplash are mostly impervious and are less expensive to install. If you seal them, they can easily last for three to five years without getting damaged.
The good part is sealing your peel-and-stick tiles is a pretty straightforward project and can be completed quickly within a few hours.
Just follow these simple steps:
Step 1. Clean the Tiles
Vacuum or sweep the backsplash and peel-and-stick tiles to remove all the dirt, dust, and debris.
If the tiles are on the floor, mop the floor with a mild detergent solution to clean the surface nicely.
In either case, pay special attention to corners and seams, as these are the places where smaller dirt particles and debris can collect.
Step 2. Remove Any Existing Wax or Polish
If you have old peel-and-stick tiles on the flooring or walls, maybe they are already waxed or polished.
To strip the old wax and polish off your floor, fill a bucket with warm water and vinyl floor stripper in the dilution ratio recommended by the stripper manufacturer.
Then use a sponge mop dampened with the solution to scrub the floor clean. Don’t use a mop that’s still wet and dripping, as this may loosen the tiles.
Next, clean the floor with plain water and a new sponge mop head, and let it dry for half an hour.
Step 3. Apply the Painter’s Tape on the Edges and Baseboards
Before proceeding further, it’s best to cover areas like edges and baseboards with painter’s tape to avoid any stains due to sealer spillover.
Also, make sure to remove any obstacles from the area you’ll be working in, like furniture, rugs, etc., if they are present nearby.
For areas near the kitchen backsplash tiles, you can use old newspapers or a drop cloth to protect the surface.
Step 4. Apply the Sealer to the Peel-and-Stick Tiles
Once the area is all set, apply the sealer using a sponge, roller, or brush, depending on what is recommended by the sealer manufacturer.
For peel-and-stick adhesive tiles on floors, you can also use a floor finish applicator tool which is handy and is available at various home improvement or hardware stores.
But be aware, using a floor finish applicator tool can be tricky if you haven’t used it before. So if you plan to use it, I would recommend practicing on a spare tile or a small section of the floor first to get a feel for it.
After some practice, start from one corner of the room and work your way toward the other end, applying an even coat of sealer as you go. Make sure to work in small sections so that the sealer doesn’t dry before you have a chance to spread it around.
Step 5. Let the Coat of Sealer Dry for a Few Hours
After you’ve applied the sealer, let it sit for the amount of time recommended by the manufacturer.
In most cases, it generally takes 3-4 hours for the first coat to dry to the touch. Once it’s dry, apply a second coat of sealer and let it dry completely overnight.
Step 6. Remove the Taping, and Enjoy the New Look
After the final coat of sealer has dried completely, you can remove the painter’s tape and any other protection you had placed on the edges and baseboards.
After that, wait for at least 24 hours before walking on the floor or using the backsplash to give the sealer time to cure properly.
Tips and Warning
You may lightly sand your peel-and-stick tiles with superfine grit sandpaper and apply polyurethane instead of sealer if they are scuffed or appear to be old. This would add some extra years to it.
However, don’t apply polyurethane to a floor with cuts or deep scratches since it can soak through and stain the vinyl material.
Also, remember that many new vinyl tiles on the market are made to look like natural stone (like quarry tiles) with a non-glistening finish. Although they may be glossed, the sheen may draw attention to the fact that they are not genuine stones.
In such a case, only use a sealer designed for vinyl tiles. Some floor polishes and sealers might flake off or cause stains on vinyl floors if misused.
Why is My Peel and Stick Tile Not Sticking Correctly?
Self-adhesive tiles usually adhere easily and can be sealed right away for added life.
But there are times when they may not stick as firmly as you’d like. The problem can be caused due to various reasons…
- First, if your floor is not flat and smooth, you may face challenges getting the expected results – self-sticking tiles must be installed on flat dry floors, backsplash, and walls.
- Furthermore, dirt and grime on the ground where you are laying your tiles can hinder them from bonding securely. Therefore, be sure to assess this issue before installation and sealing.
- An often overlooked but essential factor is temperature. The tiles and the room must be sufficiently warm before you begin installing them to ensure they stick in place properly.
It’s easy to forget these issues, so make sure these details don’t go unnoticed when you plan to install and seal your vinyl tiles.
Can You Remove Peel-And-Stick Tiles – How Easy is the Removal Process?
No matter how well you install the self-adhesive tiles and apply the sealer, there may come a time when you need to remove them and get them replaced.
Usually, when there are signs of damage, watermarks, streaks, or discolored dull surfaces, you know it’s time to remove them for something new.
Fortunately, removing your old monotonous peel-and-stick floor tile is relatively simple and not as messy as it could be. Here’s a quick three-step process you can follow:
- Start by applying some heat using a blow-dryer or a heat gun
- Once the adhesives loosen, use a putty knife to remove the tiles
- Once all the tiles are removed, use sandpaper to remove the remaining adhesive
The bottom line
While it’s not essential, sealing your peel-and-stick tiles makes them even more water-resistant, which is always a good idea if you use them in a bathroom or kitchen.
But bear in mind you should not use sealers like polyurethane on self-adhesive tiles that are made for walls or floors as it can make the adhesive less effective. Instead, use sealers that are specially formulated for vinyl peel-and-stick floor tiles.
If you are unsure, check with the tile manufacturer before using any type of sealer on their product. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, and a few minutes spent sealing the tiles can save you a lot of time and effort in the long run.
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Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for more than a decade to serve the customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques that are being implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.
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