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3 Reasons Why You Should NOT Install Tiles in a Camper Van

Beautiful tiles in the bathroom or kitchen are always a must-have decoration in a home interior. They can add color, warmth, and an extra dimension of aesthetic complexity. And in general, we love colorful tiles in a home. But what about tiles in a camper van? Are tiles worth putting in a DIY van conversion?

We’ve all seen gorgeous camper van interiors on YouTube and blogs that utilize beautiful tile patterns. When we first planned our build, we seriously considered installing tile in our van as well.

But in the end, we decided against it. But why?

This post lists three reasons we did NOT install tiles in our camper van.

1. Tiles Are Heavy

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. Real tiles are heavy!

When we first designed our van’s interior, we planned on using these Moroccan-style ceramic tiles for our kitchen backsplash.

Moroccan mosaic tiles for a kitchen backsplash
Looks nice, but should you use real tile in your van?

But then we read the product description and quickly realized that we’d be installing more than 30 pounds of tile in our van’s kitchen. If we included the weight of the mortar, we were looking at adding more than 40 pounds (~20kg) of extra weight to our van.

If you’re not convinced of the weight of even a single tile, head over to your local hardware store, pick one up, and marvel at just how heavy these things are.

And since we had already installed so much furniture and heavy electric-related devices, we weren’t keen on adding unnecessary weight to our van. Remember, the heavier the van, the lower the gas efficiency and the more difficult the vehicle is to drive, especially when going off-road.

A heavier van also puts more stress on a vehicle’s suspension and tires, causing them to wear out faster than usual.

2. Easy To Warp, Rattle, & Crack

In a stationary house, tiles are strong and held firmly together with mortar. But in a moving camper van, it’s an entirely different story.

When driving, your vehicle’s frame constantly twists and turns and is thrown up and down. Compound that with the endless rattling that occurs when driving on less-than-stellar roads (ESPECIALLY when driving off-road). Putting all these different movements together becomes a recipe for disaster for rigid tiles in a van.

White porcelain tile with a crack
We didn’t want to deal with one of these in our van!

Once the tiles are set and the mortar/grout has dried, tiles have ZERO flexibility to absorb the punishment camper vans assume throughout van life. And sooner or later, cracks in the mortar will start to form.

With wood furniture, you can at least go around and tighten loose screws once a month or so. But with tiles, there’s no way to ‘tighten’ them. Once the mortar begins to crack, it’s game over.

3. Tiles Are Tricky To Install & Fix

Man installing tiles on a while
Installing real tiles can be tricky

Installing tiles is tricky, time-intensive, and messy. And if things don’t align perfectly, you’ll likely need to custom-cut tiles to fit neatly on your wall.

And lastly, once tiles are set, they’re pretty permanent! So, if you make a mistake, it’s hard to fix.

Use Peel & Stick Faux Tiles

Camper van kitchen with vinyl faux-tile backsplash, sink, faucet, and spice rack
A peel and stick backsplash looks just as good

Though we decided against using tile in our van, we still wanted a beautiful backsplash to accent our van’s interior space. Fortunately, we found a fantastic compromise.

Faux Tile Wallpaper

In the end, we opted for this Morrocan-style backsplash sticker. And after almost five years on the road, this peel-and-stick faux-tile wallpaper has held up wonderfully. Throughout all the vicious rattles and bumps and twists and turns our van has endured, our wallpaper backsplash is still here.

We understand that a peel-and-stick backsplash may not be everyone’s first choice. But we encourage you to give it a try. Many people who have toured our van have mistaken our faux tile for the real thing.

Best Tile Alternative
Moroccan Style Peel and Stick Wallpaper

It's lightweight, easy to install & clean. Remarkable durability, which we've proven over the last four years of extensive use in our van.

We earn a commission if you purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Why We Recommend Peel-and-Stick Wallpaper

DIY-Friendly

No experience? No problem! Applying this self-adhesive vinyl wallpaper to your camper’s walls is clean, easy, and quick. Pro tip: Using a heat gun helps to form a stronger adhesion to your walls.

Variety of Design

From simple and plain to colorful and decorative, there are so many types of patterns and designs you can choose from.

Easy To Clean

Because of their vinyl material, these faux tiles are easy to clean, water-resistant, and don’t stain. Just use a wet wipe to take the grime off the walls.

Easy To Remove

100% removable. Peel from any corner and begin to pull away from the wall firmly.

Conclusion: Substitute Tiles For Vinyl Wallpaper

Cat sitting on a kitchen counter infront of a faux-tile vinyl backsplash

Faux-tile backsplash wallpapers in a campervan look beautiful and are easy to install, durable, and functional. They’re the perfect material for van life.

In a camper van, we sometimes cannot have everything we want that a typical house has, but there is always a solution or alternative to make our tiny home on wheels look stunning and comfortable to live in.

If you have any questions about installing peel-and-stick wallpaper in your van, please let us know in the comments section below.

Happy building!

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