Can You Replace Countertops Without Damaging Backsplash?

Replacing your countertops can give your kitchen a fresh, updated look. However, it’s important to carefully remove and install new countertops to avoid damaging adjoining surfaces like your backsplash. With some planning and care, you can successfully replace your countertops without harming your existing backsplash.

Preparing for Countertop Replacement

Before starting demolition of your old countertops, take these preparatory steps:

  • Remove appliances and fixtures from the countertops like the stove, sink, and dishwasher so you have full access to the countertops.
  • Protect the backsplash. Cover the backsplash with painters tape, cardboard, or masking film to prevent scratching or chipping during countertop removal.
  • Disconnect plumbing and electrical. Shut off water supply lines, disconnect drains and supply lines, and turn off nearby outlets to safely work on the countertops.
  • Clear countertop items. Remove everything from the countertops and store safely out of the way.
  • Photograph layout. Take pictures of the existing plumbing and electrical layouts so you can reconnect properly later.

Removing Existing Countertops

When taking out old countertops:

  • Cut countertop into manageable sections with a circular saw adjusted to the depth of the countertop substrate. This prevents damaging the backsplash by trying to lift too-large countertop pieces.
  • Carefully lift each section and detach from the base cabinets. Do not pry directly against the backsplash. Use a pry bar covered with rags or wood to protect the backsplash tiles.
  • Watch for adhesive or caulk between the countertop and backsplash. Gently slice through caulk beads before lifting the countertop free.
  • Clean up debris and adhesive thoroughly once the old top is fully removed. Avoid chemical strippers near the backsplash.

Installing New Countertops

Follow best practices when replacing countertops:

  • Set countertops in place without adhesive first and check the fit along the backsplash. Cover the backsplash again for protection.
  • Apply adhesive or fasteners according to the manufacturer’s directions to secure the new tops. Avoid over-tightening fasteners against the backsplash.
  • Reinstall appliances and fixtures carefully to avoid bumping the backsplash. Replace outlet covers, plumbing, etc.
  • Recaulk along the backsplash with a matching colored caulk for a clean finish. Remove any backsplash protection material.
  • Inspect for damage. Wipe down the backsplash and check for any scratches, chips, or cracks needing repair. Use sealant if needed.

Protecting the Backsplash During Remodeling

Here are some extra tips for keeping backsplash walls damage-free during a kitchen remodel:

  • Cover the entire backsplash surface with sheet plastic or cardboard when doing extensive work like knocking down upper cabinets.
  • Communicate the importance of protecting the backsplash to any tradespeople working in the kitchen. Point out its location and ask them to be cautious.
  • Avoid demolishing countertops via sledgehammer which can easily damage adjoining walls. Make clean cuts instead.
  • Ensure backsplashes are sealed properly post-installation to prevent moisture damage under new countertops.


Replacing kitchen countertops without ruining an existing backsplash is achievable with careful removal, preparation, and installation of the new tops. Planning ahead, using protection methods, and taking a gentle approach helps preserve the backsplash during the remodel. Communicating the need to safeguard the backsplash and properly sealing it after countertop replacement ensures your kitchen ends up looking fantastic.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you remove old countertops without damaging the backsplash?

  • Cover backsplash with cardboard, tape, or plastic sheeting
  • Cut countertop into smaller sections for safe removal
  • Pry against wood blocks, not directly on backsplash
  • Slice any caulk beads before lifting countertop
  • Avoid chemical strippers near backsplash

What is the easiest way to replace a countertop?

The easiest countertop to replace is a post-form laminate top installed with adhesive as it can be cut out in sections and peeled off the base cabinets relatively easily. Tiled, granite, and solid surface tops are more labor intensive to remove and replace.

Should you remove backsplash when replacing countertops?

It is not necessary to remove the backsplash when replacing countertops in most cases. Leaving it in place and protecting it avoids additional demolition and installation work. Only remove backsplash if it is damaged or you wish to install a new backsplash material.

How do you cut out existing countertops?

Use a circular saw adjusted to the depth of the countertop substrate to cut through countertops, making relief cuts if needed. You can also score plastic laminate tops with a utility knife and snap off sections. Cut/pry off any caulking beads before lifting off pieces.

How do you attach new countertop without removing backsplash?

Set the new countertop sections in place without adhesive first to check fit. Apply adhesive or fasteners according to manufacturer directions without over-tightening against backsplash. Cover backsplash first for protection. Recaulk gaps at the end.