How to Install Peel and Stick Tile on Plywood

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how to install peel and stick tile on plywood

Peel and stick tile is an inexpensive and easy-to-use flooring that works in many applications. 

If you have a room that you would like to spruce up, it is a great way to add some life. It can be installed by almost anyone and can really transform a space without the commitment. 

In this article, we laid out every step you need to take to install peel and stick tile on plywood.

Many people wonder whether this kind of tile can be applied to a plywood floor base. Not only is it possible, it is also easy to do and can yield some fairly high-quality results.

Key Takeaways:

Start by smoothing out your surface (by sanding and even filling in any uneven areas), then apply a self-stick primer, and separate the floor into rectangles. You can now stick down your tiles. You normally won’t need underlayment, and these tiles can endure more than two decades cared for properly.

Installing Peel and Stick Tile: Basic Idea

To install peel and stick tile on a plywood floor base, you need to follow some simple steps. 

  • Prepare the plywood
  • Apply a primer
  • Separate the area into rectangles
  • Lay down the tile

Why Install Peel and Stick Tile?

why install peel and stick tile

There are many instances where peel and stick tile would be an appropriate flooring material. 

Even though it is not as high-quality as stone or mosaic tile, it can add a lot of style to a room. If you want a change but don’t want to spend a lot of time or money, it could be a great option. 

Pro Tip: From my extensive experience working with peel and stick tiles, one crucial detail to note is making sure you apply the tiles in a dry environment. Humidity or moisture can hamper adhesion and may cause peeling later on. Also, after applying the tiles, avoid washing the area for at least 24-48 hours to ensure that the adhesive sticks well. Even though it’s an easy installation, giving the tiles a solid amount of time to adhere can prevent many future issues.

Many people use peel and stick tile for places like utility rooms or laundry rooms. It can offer some protection on the plywood floor in areas that might see a lot of abuse. 

In rooms like these, you might not want expensive mosaic tiles. Things could get dropped, scratches can appear and spills are bound to happen. 

Should the peel and stick tile get damaged, you aren’t going to be as upset as you might be with stone. It is easy to replace the damaged area and doesn’t cost much money at all. 

Prepare the Surface

Before you begin, you are going to want to get the surface as smooth as you possibly can. 

This means that it is a good idea to sand out any rough spots or divots if at all possible. This will give the peel and stick tile a solid surface to stick to and prevent bubbling. 

If there are any areas that have large chunks missing, fill them in with some wood filler. You want the plywood surface to be as level and even as you can get it. 

Once you have done this, you should then sweep and clean the plywood floor. Make sure it is free of dust and debris before you move on to the next step. 

Pro Tip: Through my experience of working with peel and stick tiles, I’ve found that it really pays off to spend that extra bit of time ensuring your plywood surface is completely smooth before you begin applying your tiles. Any bumps or lumps can cause an uneven finish and can potentially damage your tiles. Don’t rush this step. A smoother surface equals a more professional and durable finish!

Apply a Self Stick Primer

After you have gotten the plywood surface as clean as you can, apply a self stick tile primer. 

This primer is known as a bond enhancer and will create a sticky surface for the tile to adhere to. This is much more ideal than the plain plywood surface and will ensure that the tile stays put. 

Apply the primer using a roller and let it dry overnight for the best results. 

Use an even coat and make sure you don’t have any areas with excess buildup. This is one of the reasons it is so important for you to smooth out the plywood before anything else. 

Once the primer is dried, you should be ready to lay down the actual tile. 

Separate the Floor into Rectangles

separate the floor into rectangles

In order to get the best amount of coverage, you are going to have to do some simple geometry. 

Measure the area you want to tile into differently sized rectangles. This will give you the square footage you need to cut the tile into. 

Don’t worry if the floor is not in a perfect rectangle shape. You can cut edges off with a utility knife. 

It is important that you err on the side of cutting too much tile. It is much easier to cut the excess tile than it is to add small amounts to fill in gaps. 

Install the tile

Now, you can begin laying the tile onto the actual floor. As you are setting them, make sure that they are flush with each other and there are no gaps between them. 

Pro Tip: Remember that measuring and planning are crucial to the success of your project. I’ve seen many do-it-yourself enthusiasts rush into the installation process without dividing the floor into sections first. Trust me, dividing your floor into rectangles helps you to visualize the layout and avoid costly and time-consuming mistakes. Double check your measurements as it always saves time in the end.

One of the nice things about peel and stick tile is that it is malleable. If you make a mistake, run a hairdryer over the piece to loosen the adhesive and set it correctly. 

If you are also installing rubber molding, you can fit that around corners by heating it as well. This molding will cover any gaps between the wall and the plywood floor. 

Once you have installed the tile, run it over with a weighted roller. This will set it into the adhesive and give it the final grip. 


faq peel and stick tile in plywood
  • Does peel and stick tile need underlayment?

Generally, peel and stick tile does not need underlayment. The tile itself is fairly waterproof and will be good protection from spills. 

Also, peel and stick tile will not stick as well to the underlayment as it will to the raw plywood. 

  • How long will peel and stick vinyl tiles last?

Depending on how much abuse it takes, peel and stick tile can last up to 25 years. If you are installing it in a room that gets a lot of heavy use, it can last as little as 5 years. 

While it is not as permanent as mosaic tile, it can still take quite a bit of use without looking damaged. 

  • Do peel and stick tiles look cheap?

Peel and stick tile does not look as nice as stone or mosaic tile. 

However, it is not necessarily cheap-looking. Some peel and stick tile can be quite high quality if you want to spend a little extra money. 


By knowing how to install peel and stick tile, you can get the most out of this simple flooring material. 

It is always best to try and do as good a job as you can to ensure that it will last. If you follow these steps correctly, you can save a lot of money and still get a floor that looks high-end. 

Photo of author


Michael J. O’Connor is a writer and marketing specialist from the Bay Area of California. A graduate of Sonoma State’s Creative Writing program, he spent many years as a contractor and carpet layer, learning the ins and outs of flooring and general contracting. When he’s not typing away at his desk, he enjoys hiking with his dogs, woodworking and collecting rare books. See full biography here.

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