Can You Remove Peel and Stick Backsplash?

Peel and stick backsplashes have become an increasingly popular backsplash option for kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects. They provide an affordable, easy-to-install alternative to traditional tile or stone backsplashes. However, one question that often comes up is whether or not you can remove a peel and stick backsplash if you later decide to change your backsplash or remodel your space. Here is what you need to know about removing peel and stick backsplashes.

What is a Peel and Stick Backsplash?

A peel and stick backsplash, also sometimes called a removable backsplash or self-adhesive backsplash tile, is a backsplash made up of thin, flexible vinyl or plastic tiles that have an adhesive backing. To install, you simply peel away the backing and press the tiles onto the wall in the desired pattern. Peel and stick backsplash tiles come in a wide variety of styles, colors, and patterns to suit any design aesthetic.

Compared to traditional backsplash materials like ceramic tile or natural stone, peel and stick backsplashes are much easier and quicker to install, require no special tools, and can be installed directly over existing backsplashes or even old paint. This makes them a great temporary or short-term backsplash solution.

Can You Remove a Peel and Stick Backsplash?

The simple answer is yes, you can remove a peel and stick backsplash. The key is that peel and stick backsplashes are designed to be removable. However, how easy or difficult the removal process is depends on a few factors:

Age of the Backsplash

The longer a peel and stick backsplash has been installed, the more difficult it will likely be to remove cleanly. The adhesive can grow stronger over time, causing tiles to stick more stubbornly to the wall. A newer backsplash will come off much more smoothly.

Type of Wall Surface

Peel and stick backsplash tiles will come off best from smoother wall surfaces like drywall or tile as compared to rougher, more porous surfaces like brick or concrete. The texture of the wall surface impacts how strongly the adhesive grips.

Type of Adhesive Used

There are different strength levels of adhesive used on peel and stick tiles. Weaker adhesives will allow for easier removal. Stronger adhesives hold the tiles more stubbornly to the wall.

Heat Exposure

Exposure to heat from things like stoves and ovens can also cause peel and stick tile adhesives to strengthen over time and make removal more difficult.

Steps for Removing a Peel and Stick Backsplash

Removing an existing peel and stick backsplash is definitely doable, you just need some patience. Here are the basic steps:

1. Prepare the Workspace

Clear the area around the backsplash and cover nearby surfaces like countertops with drop cloths to protect them from damage. Have a spray bottle of water, plastic putty knife, paper towels, and gloves on hand.

2. Loosen the Tiles

Starting in a bottom corner of the backsplash, work a putty knife under the edge of a tile, being careful not to gouge the wall. Apply light pressure to lift up the corner. Spray a small amount of water under the lifted tile to help lubricate and loosen the adhesive.

3. Slowly Peel Off

Once lifted, slowly peel the entire tile off the wall. Go slow to avoid tearing the tile or ripping chunks of drywall off. The tile should peel away cleanly with the adhesive attached.

4. Remove any Adhesive Residue

Any leftover adhesive can be scrapped off using the putty knife. Then wipe the area clean using a paper towel dampened with water or adhesive remover. Avoid harsh chemical cleaners.

5. Clean the Wall

Once all tiles and adhesive are removed, do a final wipe down of the entire backsplash area with a clean, damp cloth to remove any last residue. Let the wall dry completely before applying any new backsplash.

6. Patch and Prep the Wall

Check the wall for any damage or gouges from removal and make repairs as needed with drywall joint compound. Once dry, sand any rough areas. The wall can then be primed and painted, or you can install a new backsplash.

Tips for Easier Removal

  • Go slow and apply even, steady pressure when peeling off tiles to avoid uneven removal or damage.
  • Try applying heat to tiles with a blow dryer or heat gun before peeling to help soften the adhesive.
  • For stubborn adhesive, let it soak for a few minutes after spraying with water before scraping.
  • Start removal in an inconspicuous corner or along the counter to avoid damaging main focal areas.
  • Use painter’s tape along wall edges and seams to help protect drywall during removal.
  • Consider hiring a professional installer or contractor for large or complicated backsplash removal projects.

While it takes some work, patience, and care, it is possible to successfully remove and replace a peel and stick backsplash. With the right techniques and tools, you can give your kitchen or bath a fresh new look.

Frequently Asked Questions About Removing Peel and Stick Backsplashes

Can I paint over an existing peel and stick backsplash?

It is not generally recommended to paint directly over peel and stick backsplash tiles. The vinyl surface and textured seams between tiles will likely be visible through the paint. It is best to fully remove the backsplash before painting the wall.

Will removing a peel and stick backsplash damage drywall?

If done carefully, you can remove most peel and stick backsplash without damaging drywall underneath. Go slowly, keep tiles intact, and avoid gouging the wall surface. Use painter’s tape for added protection.

What is the easiest way to get any remaining adhesive off the wall?

Using a plastic putty knife, scrape off any obvious adhesive residue. Then wipe the entire area down with a cloth dampened slightly with warm water or adhesive remover to get rid of any remaining sticker residue. Avoid harsh chemicals.

Can I install a new backsplash right over an existing peel and stick backsplash?

It is not recommended to install tile, stone, or other rigid backsplash materials directly over a peel and stick backsplash. The textured vinyl surface needs to be removed for proper adhesion of new materials.

Should I replace all tiles or just damaged ones if some get ripped during removal?

It’s best practice to remove the entire backsplash if you plan to replace it. Leaving some original tiles can create a patchwork look. And new tiles may not adhere as well going over adhesive residue.


Peel and stick backsplashes offer a convenient and inexpensive way to quickly change the look of your kitchen or bathroom backsplash. While not intended to be a permanent solution, they can easily be removed when desired with some effort and care. Taking your time and using the proper tools and techniques will allow you to successfully remove an existing peel and stick backsplash without damaging your wall underneath. Just be prepared for some elbow grease for easier removal. Then you can refresh your space with a stunning new backsplash design.