Ideas for the Kitchen: Wallpaper Backsplash

Installing a tough vinyl wall covering is easier than paper

Install tough, cleanable vinyl wallpaper to create a handsome backsplash in your kitchen. Even expensive material won't cost much since you'll need very little.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Install a vinyl wall covering on a backsplash

Wallpaper as a durable kitchen backsplash? You bet. We bought “splash-proof” vinyl wallpaper (in the “Wallis” pattern) from grahambrown.com, which offers a variety of wallpapers designed for kitchens and baths. Splash-proof wallpaper resists moisture and humidity, and stands up to scrubbing.

Tough paper is easy to hang
We're not going to show you everything you need to know to hang wallpaper (search above for “hanging wallpaper”). Instead, we're going to show you techniques that are unique to hanging vinyl.

The great news is that vinyl wallpaper goes up easier than other wallpapers because it's not as flimsy. Most vinyl wallpapers require a premixed vinyl paste (read the manufacturer's instructions). We used a heavy-duty clay-based paste available at any wallpaper store. Before starting, make sure your wall is primed with a primer/sealer for vinyl wallpapers (also available at wallpaper stores).

Set a plumb line with a level to start your first sheet. On small pieces, you can use a paintbrush to apply the paste to the back of the wallpaper. “Book” each piece for five minutes before hanging it (see our online story for more on this technique). Booking allows the paper to relax and return to its original width before it goes on the wall.

Photos 1 - 3 offer pro tips for making the job go smoothly.

Homeowner comment:
“We used tough-as-nails high-end wallpaper. Since we used so little, it was cheap and went up really fast. It definitely pulls the whole room together.”
Kama Johnson

Back to Top

Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • Level
  • Straightedge
  • Paintbrush

You'll also need a wallpaper smoothing brush, paste applicator, scissors, razor knife and painting supplies if the wall requires priming.

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

  • Vinyl wall covering
  • Vinyl paste adhesive