Refresh your home quickly and easily by learning how to take off peel-and-stick tiles.

Peel and stick tiles, also known as self-adhesive tiles, should be simple to remove. Peel and stick tiles are a lifesaver for inexperienced DIYers. Peel and stick tiles, which are ideal for quickly updating walls and floors, are currently experiencing a surge in popularity on social media.  

Peel and stick tiles are no longer just for renters who want to brighten up their beige walls; recent improvements in the design and durability of peel and stick tiles are making them more appealing to homeowners who want a simpler task than laying and grouting tiles.  

While there are numerous compelling reasons to investigate the peel and stick tile trend, what happens when you want a change? Or you need to get rid of them before leaving a rental.  

Only a few peel and stick tile products are designed to be as easy to remove as they are to apply, which is easier than removing wall tiles but not nearly as easy as removing or applying peel and stick wallpaper. Those designed for use on the ground, in particular, are far more difficult to remove than those aimed at walls. They can't afford to move when they're being walked on.  

Peel and stick tiles come in a variety of materials, including glass, stone, and even metal, but vinyl is the most commonly available because it is inexpensive and has a plethora of design options. Whatever peel and stick tile you are removing, it will almost certainly require some effort to fully displace, especially if you want to leave the surface completely smooth and adhesive-free.  

Our step-by-step guide walks you through the most common scenarios, with helpful hints along the way to ensure the best results.

How to Get Rid of Peel and Stick Tiles

If you have ever thought about removing floor tiles that are stuck down with wet tile adhesive and grout, you’ll be aware of the extreme levels of mess involved Fortunately, peel and stick tiles are far less messy to install, and this also applies to removal. However, there are a few tools that will help keep the mess to a minimum and this DIY project running quickly and smoothly.

You might require:

1. Use heat

Peel and stick tiles are generally adhered in the same manner as double-sided sticky tape, but the adhesive used is stronger and stickier. When removing peel and stick tiles, always try to remove each tile in one piece, or at most two pieces, or you'll end up spending hours chipping away at tiny fragments of tile.  

'The best way to get peel and stick tiles to lift up all at once is to apply heat first,' says Harriet Goodacre, Tile Consultant at Topps Tiles. (Opens in a new window) 'Heating the tiles can help because it softens the adhesive; try running a hairdryer over the tiles an inch or two away from the surface.' ’

If you have a large area of tile to remove, consider using an iron or heat gun instead of your hairdryer to prevent it from overheating and breaking. A heat gun can be used in the same way as a hairdryer, but be careful not to scorch the tile as the fumes may be unpleasant or even dangerous.  

To avoid noxious scorching, always use a towel between the iron and the tile when ironing. Depending on the thickness of the tile and your heating method, melting the adhesive beneath a tile should take no more than 30 seconds to a minute.

2. Begin lifting from the corners

When the glue has softened sufficiently, the corners of the tile should easily lift when a pry bar or chisel is inserted under the edge. Work your way from one corner to the next, gently prying the tile up. Applying too much force may cause the tile to snap, especially if it is old and brittle.  

To expedite the process, take the flat end of your pry bar or chisel and gently hammer it beneath the tile at a slight angle, about 40 degrees, until the entire piece lifts up. As you hammer your tool under, take care not to gauge the floor or wall.

3. Continue removing tiles

Continue heating and prising one tile at a time until all of them have been removed. Work methodically, from left to right or vice versa, discarding lifted tiles as you go.   

If you see a large gloop of glue on the floor or wall, grab a scraper and try to scrape it off while it is still warm. For removing the glue from your scraper, use an old piece of wood or strong cardboard.

4. Scrape away any remaining adhesive

It's time to assess the damage after all of the tiles have been lifted and removed from the room. What you do next will be determined by your intentions for your newly tile-free surface.  

It is not always necessary to remove every last scrap of adhesive when re-covering the floor or wall, whether with new peel and stick tiles or alternatives. However, you will need to achieve a reasonably smooth surface, so concentrate on any major lumps and remove them with a scraper. Minor glue spots should be removed with a light sanding. Any holes or lifted plaster patches should be filled with a suitable filler.  

Before installing new flooring, some people prefer to sprinkle baking soda on the floor and then vacuum to remove any remaining stickiness. This is a wise decision if you are installing carpet, click-fit laminate, or new peel-and-stick tile.

In the case of ceramic/porcelain tiles or any other flooring installed with wet cementitious adhesives, the sub-floor must be dust-free and non-porous, which means no baking soda. 'Instead, use a scraper tool to remove any remaining adhesive.' 'Use a good quality specialist glue remover and follow the instructions provided for the excess glue left behind,' advises Mike Head, director, Atlas Ceramics. (Opens in a new window)

What is the lifespan of peel and stick tiles?

Modern peel and stick tiles are designed to stick and stay stuck, which is why removing them can be difficult. Peel and stick tiles should last at least five years, if not longer. Several factors influence the longevity of peel and stick tiles.  

The quality of the product has the greatest impact on lifespan, and if you are not looking for a quick fix, it is worthwhile to invest more in high quality peel and stick tiles. Look for manufacturers who offer standard product guarantees. Thickness is also a good indicator of quality, and if possible, read customer reviews to look for complaints about tiles lifting or installation issues.  

Many peel and stick tiles are not suitable for use in moist environments or in areas where they will come into direct contact with water, such as near a sink. Before you buy, always read the manufacturer's recommendations.

Is peel and stick tile harmful to floors?

Peel and stick tile can usually be removed without causing too much damage to the subfloor. Any issues are most likely the result of overzealous installation, in which extra adhesive was applied unnecessarily. There may also be issues if the subfloor has been water damaged, with significant water (for example, from a flooded washing machine) settling beneath the peel and stick tile.  

As with any flooring removal, extracting peel and stick tile without damaging the surface beneath is heavily dependent on how sound the subfloor was in the first place. When it comes time to remove peel and stick tile, a dry, level subfloor with no weak spots or dust should be avoided.  

The good news is that any damage should be minor and easily repaired with basic filler and a putty knife or trowel. Many builders recommend applying a thin layer of leveling compound before installing any new solid floor for added peace of mind.  

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