How Easy is it to Remove Peel and Stick Backsplash?

Peel and stick backsplash tiles have become an increasingly popular DIY kitchen upgrade. Their adhesive backing makes installation a breeze, allowing you to quickly transform the look of your kitchen without the mess and hassle of traditional tile. But what happens when it’s time to remove or replace that backsplash? Here’s what you need to know about how easy (or challenging) it can be to remove peel and stick backsplash tiles.

Evaluating Your Existing Backsplash

The first step is to closely examine the current state of your peel and stick backsplash. Consider the following:

  • What material is it made from? Peel and stick tiles come in vinyl, metal, glass, and other materials. Vinyl is easiest to remove.
  • How long has it been installed? The longer it’s been stuck to your wall, the harder it will be to take down. Newer installations come off more smoothly.
  • Was the wall properly prepped? Proper prep with primers and clean surfaces makes removal much simpler. Lack of prep can make tiles stubbornly stick.
  • How was it installed? Per manufacturer instructions with adequate pressure and rolling? Or hastily slapped up? Proper installation means easier removal.

If your backsplash is vinyl installed less than a year ago on a properly prepped surface, it will likely come off without too much hassle. Long-installed tile on a poorly prepped wall will prove far more difficult.

Tools and Materials Needed

Gather the following tools and supplies before attempting to remove your backsplash:

  • Putty knife or painters tool – To pry up edges and scrape off adhesive
  • Heat gun – Helps soften adhesive for easier scraping
  • Goo Gone or WD-40 – Removes any remaining sticky residue
  • Razor blades – To precisely slice away sections for removal
  • Replacement tiles – For any damage during removal process

You’ll also need painters tape, rags, plastic sheeting, and safety gear like goggles, gloves, and a mask. Use a plastic putty knife if removing glass tiles to avoid scratching.

Step-By-Step Removal Process

With proper tools in hand, follow these key steps:

1. Prepare the Workspace

Clear countertops and cover nearby surfaces with plastic sheeting to protect from debris. Mask off surrounding walls and cabinets with painters tape.

2. Loosen a Top Corner

Carefully pry up one top corner of a tile with the putty knife. Work slowly and gently to avoid tile damage.

3. Heat Adhesive

Use the heat gun to warm tiles and soften adhesive underneath, which makes it easier to scrape off. Apply heat until adhesive softens, then scrape.

4. Slowly Peel Off Tiles

Once adhesive is loosened, slowly peel tiles away one by one. Lay them adhesive-side up on the plastic sheeting.

5. Remove Adhesive Residue

Use putty knife, razor blades, or Goo Gone to remove any remaining adhesive from the wall surface.

6. Clean & Smooth Surface

Clean the wall thoroughly with TSP or other degreaser. Sand any remaining roughness for a smooth finish.

7. Inspect & Repair Wall

Examine the wall for damage or flaws needing repair before installing replacement tiles. Patch and prime as needed.

And that’s it! With proper tools, patience, and care, those peel and stick tiles can come off with minimal hassle. Just be prepared for some time and elbow grease, especially if the existing installation was done incorrectly. Taking it slow helps avoid tile breakage or wall damage.

Tips for Easier Removal

Keep these handy tips in mind for removing backsplash tiles as seamlessly as possible:

  • Heat tiles thoroughly before prying up – this gets the adhesive nice and gummy for easy scraping.
  • Peel tiles off slowly at a 45 degree angle to minimize wall damage underneath.
  • WD-40 or other lubricants help separate tile from adhesive backing. Spray behind tile while lifting.
  • Replace blades frequently for optimum razor sharpness when scraping adhesive residue.
  • Use plastic putty knives on glass tiles to avoid scratching or cracking them.
  • Patch holes and prime immediately to get the wall ready for new backsplash installation.
  • Work slowly and carefully! Rushing increases the chances of damaging tiles or walls.

When to Call for Professional Help

While DIY removal is possible in many cases, know when to call in the pros:

  • Tiles are extremely thick or large-format, making DIY risky
  • Older installation with concrete backer board instead of drywall
  • Thick layers of adhesive that are extremely hard to scrape off
  • Damage or flaws in the wall itself that require repair
  • Hiring an electrician if outlets or switches are impacted

Professionals have commercial steamers and solvents that make quick work of stubborn adhesives. They can also skillfully handle wall repairs for seamless results.

Removing your outdated peel and stick backsplash tiles can be successfully accomplished as a DIY weekend project if you have the right tools and take the proper care. Just gear up for some tedious adhesive scraping! With patience and elbow grease, you can reveal that smooth wall surface ready for your fresh new backsplash design.

Frequently Asked Questions About Removing Peel and Stick Backsplash

How long does it take to remove a peel and stick backsplash?

Plan on at least 2-3 hours for a small backsplash area up to 10 square feet. Larger kitchens could take 6-8 hours or more if tiles have been up for years. Go slowly to avoid damage.

Can I simply peel it off in full sheets?

You may be able to gently peel off full sheets if recently installed on a properly prepped wall. But in most cases, tiles need to be removed individually with scraping required.

Will it damage my drywall underneath?

Careful removal with proper tools should leave your drywall intact, but patching and priming are needed for any residual adhesive. Damage is more likely on poorly prepped surfaces.

What about the sticky residue left behind?

Adhesive residue needs to be fully scraped off and cleaned using Goo Gone, WD-40, or other degreasers. Ensure the wall is completely smooth before installing new tiles.

Should I replace all tiles that get damaged?

It’s wise to have extra tiles on hand in case some get broken during removal. Cracked or chipped tiles won’t look right when re-installed. Replace as needed.

How do I prep the wall for the new backsplash?

Once adhesive is removed, wash the wall well with TSP or degreaser, then sand any rough areas. Fill holes, prime, and paint for a fresh surface ready for your new peel and stick tiles.


Removing peel and stick backsplash tiles is doable as a DIY project if you properly evaluate the existing installation, use the right tools, work slowly and carefully, clean off all adhesive, and prep the wall for a quality re-installation. While tedious and time consuming, with patience it can be accomplished without major headaches or hiring a professional. Just be cautious not to gouge your walls or damage an abundance of tiles in the removal process. The upfront investment of time and care pays off with a smooth, clean wall ready for your fresh new backsplash design.