Replacing your countertop can give your kitchen a whole new look and feel. However, it’s important to do it properly to avoid damaging your existing backsplash. Here’s what you need to know about removing a countertop without harming the backsplash.
Assessing Your Current Backsplash
The first step is to take a close look at your current backsplash.
- What material is it made of? Ceramic tile and natural stone like granite are very durable, while materials like glass tile can be more delicate.
- How is it installed? Backsplashes are often adhered directly to the wall with thinset mortar. But some types, like glass mosaic, may be mounted on a mesh backing.
- Does the backsplash extend down over the countertop edge? Or does it stop short of the countertop? This will impact how it needs to be protected during countertop removal.
- Are there any cracks, chips or existing damage? Note any problem areas to avoid making them worse.
This assessment will guide how careful you need to be during the countertop removal process. Sturdier materials like ceramic tile have a lower risk of damage.
Protecting the Backsplash During Countertop Removal
Here are some tips to keep your backsplash unharmed while taking out the old countertop:
- Cover it up. Use painter’s tape and sheets of cardboard or rosin paper to cover the entire backsplash. This prevents damage from tools and debris.
- Add supports. Temporarily screw in boards along the top countertop edge to support the overhang of the backsplash.
- Work gently around seams. Use a putty knife to gently pry and break the caulk seal between the countertop and backsplash. Don’t force it.
- Lift carefully. When removing the countertop, lift it straight up and away from the backsplash, rather than dragging across the surface.
- Watch for cracks. Inspect the backsplash and seal any new cracks with caulk immediately to prevent further damage.
Preparing the Backsplash for the New Countertop
Once the old countertop is removed, get the backsplash ready for the new installation:
- Clean thoroughly. Remove any old caulk, mortar, grease and debris. This allows the new countertop to adhere properly.
- Make repairs. Address any damage, warping, gaps or uneven areas with new grout, caulk or shims.
- Tape off top edge. Use painter’s tape to define the top edge so the new countertop doesn’t overlap.
- Apply backsplash sealer. Seal the entire surface with grout sealer or silicone to protect from moisture damage.
Taking these steps will provide a clean, level, protected surface for mounting the new countertop against.
Installing the New Countertop Carefully
When it’s time to install the new countertop, maintain care around the backsplash:
- Hold countertop edge above backsplash. Have helpers hold the countertop up off the backsplash as it’s eased into place.
- Caulk the seam carefully. Use a smooth, consistent bead of 100% silicone caulk between the countertop and backsplash.
- Clean up spills immediately. Quickly wipe away any thinset, caulk or debris that gets on the backsplash to avoid staining.
- Check for cracking. Inspect the backsplash and re-caulk any new cracks that may have formed during installation.
Protecting Backsplash from Other Kitchen Remodels
If you’re doing a full kitchen remodel involving more than just the countertop, here are some other backsplash precautions:
- Cover it up during demolition. Mask off the entire backsplash area before removing cabinets, walls, etc.
- Shield it when removing sink/faucet. Tape cardboard around the perimeter before unfastening hardware.
- Disconnect electrical carefully. When removing and relocating appliances, outlets or lights, unfasten from the sides rather than pulling away.
- Isolate during painting. Completely mask off the backsplash when painting walls, cabinets and trim.
With proper care and precautions, you can successfully remove and replace your countertop without causing any damage to the existing backsplash. Assess the backsplash, protect it during the work, make any repairs needed, then install the new countertop gently. Taking it slow and being cautious will help ensure your backsplash stays beautiful.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I remove just part of the countertop without damaging the backsplash?
It’s best to remove the entire countertop all at once to avoid damaging the backsplash. Trying to remove only a section of the countertop makes it hard to protect the whole backsplash area during the work.
What’s the easiest countertop material to remove without harming the backsplash?
Solid surface, laminate, and tile countertops can often be removed non-destructively with less risk of damaging the backsplash. Natural stone and poured concrete are more difficult.
Should I remove the backsplash before taking out the old countertop?
Removing the backsplash first is an option, but risks breaking some of the tile during disassembly. It’s usually safer to leave it intact and follow careful precautions during countertop removal.
My new countertop is a slightly different size. How do I fit it against the existing backsplash?
Carefully lining up the front edge of the new countertop is key. Have it hang slightly over the backsplash in areas where it doesn’t line up perfectly rather than leaving gaps at the front. Use color-matched caulk to blend any slight mismatches.
The backsplash was damaged during the countertop replacement. Do I need to replace the whole thing?
Not necessarily. Small chips or cracks can often be repaired by grouting or caulking. Only larger areas of missing tile or sections pulling away from the wall require replacing entire sections.