How Hard is it to Remove Backsplash Tile?

Removing backsplash tile can be a tricky and labor-intensive process, but with the right tools and techniques, it is certainly doable as a DIY project. Here are some tips on how to remove backsplash tile successfully.

Assess the Tile and Grout

The first step is to take a close look at the type of tile, as well as the grout used. Ceramic and porcelain tiles are typically easier to remove than natural stone tiles like granite or marble. The grout also makes a difference. Cement-based grout is more durable and difficult to chip away compared to epoxy-based grout.

Identify any special tools you may need based on the tile and grout type. A grout saw, hammer and chisel, pry bar, and safety gear like gloves and eye protection are commonly used.

Prepare the Workspace

Clear the area of any items, appliances or fixtures that may get in the way. It’s also a good idea to lay a drop cloth or tarp to collect fallen tile pieces and debris.

Make sure to sweep and vacuum the area thoroughly as well. You want a clean surface to work on.

Turn off power sources to appliances like the stove or outlets in the backsplash area. Remove any caulk or adhesive below the backsplash tile if possible.

Remove Any Accent Pieces First

If the backsplash has any decorative tile pieces, glass inserts, or accents, try to gently pry these off first. This gives you more room to work on removing the main field tiles.

Use a utility knife or oscillating tool to loosen grout around the accents and carefully pry them off using a putty knife. Place accents in a safe area so they don’t get damaged.

Break Bond Between Tiles and Wall

Now comes the tough part – breaking the tile free from the wall. Start by using a hammer and chisel to chip away at the grout between tiles. Work in small sections.

Once grout is cleared, you can insert a pry bar under tile edges and gently twist and pry. Apply force slowly to avoid damaging the wall behind the tile.

For stubborn tiles, use a grout saw to scratch through the surface glaze, then strike the tile with a hammer to fracture it. Twist and pry fragments loose.

Remove Remaining Grout

With the tiles removed, use a grout rake, putty knife, or oscillating tool to scrape away remaining grout and adhesive from the wall surface. You want a clean foundation before putting up new backsplash.

Avoid gouging too deep into the wall in this step. Take your time and gently remove the grout. Use a damp sponge to wipe the area down once clear.

Clean and Dispose of Debris

Gather all tile pieces and fragments and dispose of properly. A tile breaking tool can help fracture pieces into manageable sizes.

Then clean the workspace thoroughly – sweep, vacuum, and wipe down any tile dust. Look for any stray nails or tile spacers and remove them.

Run a wet sponge over the exposed wall area one more time. Allow it to fully dry before installing the new backsplash.

Common Questions about Removing Backsplash Tile

What tools do I need to remove backsplash tile?

Common tools include a hammer, chisel, pry bar, grout saw, putty knife, safety gloves and eye protection. An oscillating multi-tool with grout blade is also very helpful.

How do I avoid damaging the wall behind the tile?

Work slowly and carefully, don’t gouge too deep into the wall surface. Use padding between pry bar and wall if needed.

What’s the easiest way to remove grout between tiles?

Use a grout saw or oscillating tool to clear out grout lines before prying tiles off. Avoid just trying to chisel out all the grout.

Can I salvage the backsplash tile to use elsewhere?

This depends on the tile material and how carefully you can remove it. Ceramic, porcelain or stone tiles may be reused if extraction is done properly.

What do I use to prep the wall for a new backsplash?

Clean thoroughly with water, remove all old grout, double check for debris. Let wall fully dry before installing new tile.


Removing existing backsplash tile has its challenges, but can be managed as a DIY project with the proper tools and techniques. The keys are taking your time, working in sections, and using the appropriate pry bars, chisels, and saws suited for the tile and grout type.

Always use caution not to gouge or put excess pressure on the wall behind. Follow safety procedures and thoroughly clean up debris after. This will prep the surface ideally for your new, upgraded backsplash.