Can You Replace a Countertop and Not the Backsplash?

Replacing your countertop while keeping the existing backsplash is certainly possible. With some careful planning and precise installation, you can upgrade your countertop without going through the trouble and expense of replacing the backsplash as well. Here is an in-depth look at how to replace a countertop and leave the backsplash intact.


Many homeowners looking to remodel their kitchens face the dilemma of whether they need to replace their backsplashes when installing new countertops. Backsplashes protect the wall from splatters and spills while adding visual interest to kitchen design. Replacing both the countertop and backsplash can be costly. Luckily, with thoughtful planning, you can switch out the countertop and preserve your existing backsplash.

Overview of the Process

The key factors when replacing a countertop while keeping the backsplash are:

  • Carefully removing the existing countertop without damaging the backsplash.
  • Leaving a gap between the backsplash and new countertop.
  • Precisely cutting and installing the new countertop.
  • Filling the gap with caulk.

With proper measurements, clean cuts, level installation, and waterproof caulking, you can achieve a seamless look with the new countertop and original backsplash.

Step-by-Step Guide

Follow these steps for a successful countertop replacement:

Prepare the existing backsplash

  • Inspect the backsplash for any damaged or loose tiles that need repairing before installing the new counter.
  • Protect the backsplash during countertop removal by covering it with painters tape and a plastic sheet.

Remove the old countertop

  • Use a utility knife to cut through any caulk or adhesive attaching the countertop to the backsplash.
  • Lift the countertop up and off the base cabinets.
  • Remove any residue or leftover adhesive with a putty knife and cleaner.

Leave a gap

  • Measure the height of the backsplash above the base cabinets.
  • When installing the new countertop, leave a gap between the backsplash and countertop that matches this measurement. This gap allows room for caulk and prevents cracking.

Cut and install the new countertop

  • Take precise measurements and cut the countertop to fit the space.
  • Set the countertop in place on the cabinets and make any final adjustments.
  • Secure the countertop with adhesive and/or screws through corner blocks into the cabinet frame.

Apply caulk

  • Use a high-quality, mold-resistant caulk to fill the gap between the countertop and backsplash.
  • Smooth and shape the caulk into a neat bead.
  • Allow the caulk to fully cure before using the countertop.


How big should the gap be between the new countertop and existing backsplash?

Leave a gap of about 1/8 inch or the thickness of a nickel. This allows space for caulk adhesion and expansion.

What type of caulk should be used?

Use a flexible, waterproof silicone caulk intended for kitchens and bathrooms. Look for mold resistance. Avoid latex caulks which can crack over time.

Is it okay if the new countertop is a different thickness than the old one?

Yes, the gap left between the backsplash and countertop can accommodate different thicknesses. Simply leave a gap that matches the height of the backsplash.

Can any countertop material be installed while keeping the backsplash?

Most countertop materials can be installed while preserving the backsplash, including natural stone, quartz, solid surface, and wood. Laminates may be more prone to swelling and damage from spills.

Should the backsplash be sealed before installing the new countertop?

Sealing porous tile backsplashes before installation is wise to prevent stains and damage. Use a penetrating sealer suitable for the backsplash material.


Replacing your outdated or damaged countertop while retaining your backsplash is an excellent way to refresh your kitchen’s look without extensive remodeling. With careful preparation, precision cutting, proper installation, and thorough caulking, you can achieve a cohesive and seamless finish with new countertops and keep your existing backsplash intact. This thrifty approach allows you to upgrade your countertops and saves the cost of purchasing and installing an entirely new backsplash. Just take it slow and take care not to crack the tiles. With time and care, you can switch out the countertops and keep your kitchen’s backsplash exactly as is.