Cover Me!: Covering Damaged Walls with Groutable Vinyl Tile


Before and After

When we moved into our house, there was wallpaper everywhere! This is no exaggeration. In the hallway bathroom, not only the walls were covered in the stuff, but the countertop, sink cabinet, and door back as well. It was like a flocked wallpaper cave. To make matters worse, the previous owners had helped the wallpaper stick in the moist area with silicone caulk. When we attempted to steam the paper, the drywall came along too. The hallway bathroom took countless hours and gallons of spackle to restore.

A few years ago, not looking to repeat that nightmare, I decided to fight fire with fire and go over the master bath wallpaper with more wallpaper. This time a paintable variety. Not a good plan! It didn’t start out looking good, and three years of steamy showers made it even worse. I wanted to fix it, but I just had no idea how. I had given up on making the bathroom pretty, so it just kept looking sadder and sadder.


Ugh. This picture embarrasses me.


This is where I decided to try removing the original wallpaper, gave up and covered it in the paintable stuff instead.

This is where I decided to try removing the original wallpaper, gave up and covered it in the paintable stuff instead.

Recently, it dawned on me that we had laminate flooring in both bathrooms and there was no reason I couldn’t use it on the walls. What a revelation! Now I just had to figure out how to do it. Since we have “wood” on the floor, I didn’t think I also wanted that on the walls. Instead, I chose travertine lookalike peel and stick vinyl tile. The Lowe’s closest to me had only a handful of pieces in stock, so I ended up getting as much as I needed for our small bathroom at a discount. Normally Lowe’s sells what I bought for $2.16 a tile. I was able to buy what I needed for around $70.

I knew the sticky tiles probably wouldn’t stay up all by themselves, as they are designed to be horizontal, not vertical. I bought some Loc-Tite Kitchen and Bath adhesive to supplement and got to work. The tiles were easy enough to cut and place. I just scored them on the top with a utility knife. I used tile spacers to keep things even. loctiteAll was going swimmingly until the weather became humid for a few days. I was working in the kitchen when I started to hear noises from the bathroom upstairs. Ugh. Tiles were popping off left and right. Time to amend my plan. Luckily, my dad is a handyman. After I told him of my plight, he suggested a stronger version of Loc-Tite. The stuff to the left. It was fantastic. Totally worth the slightly higher price tag.

After I had all the tiles in place, I had my first grouting experience. I am certain that I didn’t do it right. I found a tutorial online that used a sandwich bag to pipe the grout instead of a tile float. That did not work for me at all. I ended up using a putty knife and my fingers to squish it in the lines. My hands are still covered in grout two days later. However, IT LOOKS SO GOOD! Definitely not professional, but soooo much better. This was not an easy project by any means, but I’m so glad I stuck it out. The price tag ended up somewhere around $100. I bought a fancy new shower curtain and rug at a real (not thrift) store to celebrate. Yay!


My first wall with the tile spacers. 50% of it popped off a few days later.

My first wall with the tile spacers. 50% of it popped off a few days later.


I was pretty proud that I managed to cut that piece around the window correctly. I hate measuring.


This is what the floor looked like when I was finally done.


Ooh, fancy!


It even made my cheap sink look nicer!



4 thoughts on “Cover Me!: Covering Damaged Walls with Groutable Vinyl Tile

    • Well, unfortunately not as well as I’d hoped. Our bathroom is tiny and pretty steamy, so I think that had something to do with it. It’s still okay, but it will need to be regrouted, I think. I might cut my losses and go with some paneling. Stay tuned!

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