How to Remove a Backsplash from Countertop

Removing a backsplash from your countertop can seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools and techniques, it can be done successfully. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to remove a backsplash from a countertop.

Determine the Type of Backsplash

The first step is to identify what type of backsplash material you have. Common backsplash materials include:

  • Tile – Ceramic, porcelain, glass, or natural stone tiles are commonly used for backsplashes.
  • Metal – Metal backsplashes like stainless steel, copper, or aluminum are also popular.
  • Glass – Glass tile or solid tempered glass backsplashes provide a sleek, modern look.
  • Stone – Natural stone slabs like granite, marble, or slate can be used.
  • Vinyl – Peel-and-stick vinyl backsplashes are inexpensive and easy to install.

Knowing the backsplash type will determine the proper removal techniques and tools required.

Gather the Right Tools

Based on your backsplash type, gather the appropriate tools to safely and effectively remove it:

  • Tile backsplash – Tile cutter or chisel, grout scraper, hammer, putty knife, dust mask, eye protection
  • Metal backsplash – Screwdriver, pry bar, metal snips, eye protection
  • Glass backsplash – Heat gun, painter’s tape, safety glasses, respirator
  • Stone backsplash – Chisel, stone cutter, eye protection, respirator
  • Vinyl backsplash – Putty knife, heat gun, chemical paint stripper (if needed)

Having the right tools for the job will make the process much easier. Make sure to use eye and respiratory protection.

Prepare the Countertop Surface

Before removing the backsplash, prepare the countertop surface:

  • Clear countertop of any items or appliances.
  • Protect surrounding areas from debris with drop cloths or plastic sheeting.
  • Disconnect any wiring or plumbing related to the backsplash.
  • Clean countertop thoroughly to remove dirt, grease, or grime.

Proper preparation will provide a clean surface for the new backsplash and protect the rest of the kitchen.

Carefully Remove the Backsplash

With your tools gathered and countertop prepped, you can start removing the backsplash. Go slowly and carefully:

Tile Backsplash

  • Use a grout scraper to remove all grout between tiles.
  • Break tile adhesive’s bond by gently tapping tiles with hammer and tile cutter.
  • Carefully pry tiles off countertop with putty knife, working in sections.
  • Use chisel to remove any remaining tile pieces or stubborn adhesive.

Metal Backsplash

  • Find any screws or nails and unfasten them with a screwdriver.
  • Insert pry bar under bottom edge and gently loosen backsplash away from wall.
  • Use metal snips to cut through any caulking or adhesive beads.
  • Slowly pry backsplash away, taking care not to bend the metal.

Glass Backsplash

  • Heat glass with a heat gun to soften any adhesive.
  • Slowly peel backsplash off the wall using painters tape strips.
  • Carefully scrape remaining adhesive off with a putty knife.

Stone Backsplash

  • Use a chisel to carefully pry backsplash away from countertop.
  • Make relief cuts if necessary with a stone cutter.
  • Chip away stone and scrape off remaining adhesive.

Vinyl Backsplash

  • Heat vinyl with a heat gun to loosen bond.
  • Gently pry up edges with a putty knife.
  • Slowly peel off backsplash. Use chemical stripper if needed.

Go slowly and be careful not to damage the countertop. Thoroughly remove any leftover adhesive or residue.

Clean and Prepare Countertop

With the backsplash removed, thoroughly clean and prepare the countertop:

  • Clean off all remaining debris, old adhesive, grout, or caulk
  • Sand down countertop surface lightly if needed
  • Fill any holes, cracks, or imperfections with filler compound
  • Clean and dry the countertop completely

Your countertop should now be ready for the new backsplash!

Install New Backsplash

Follow manufacturer’s instructions to cut and install the new backsplash. Key tips:

  • Dry fit the backsplash before permanently adhering.
  • Apply a thin layer of adhesive on wall and backsplash.
  • Press backsplash in place, using spacers for even alignment.
  • Seal around all edges with caulking.
  • Allow adhesive to fully cure before use.

Take your time installing the new backsplash and make sure it is properly secured.

Removing and replacing a backsplash takes time and care, but following these steps will help you successfully upgrade your countertop with beautiful new backsplash tile or panels. Always use safety precautions and proper tools for each backsplash type. With some patience and handiwork, you can achieve the kitchen backsplash look you desire.

Frequently Asked Questions

What tools do I need to remove a tile backsplash?

To remove a tile backsplash, you will need a grout scraper, hammer, chisel, putty knife, tile cutter, dust mask, eye protection, and gloves. Gather all necessary tools before starting demo.

How do I remove stubborn backsplash adhesive from my countertop?

For stubborn adhesive residue, try scraping with a putty knife or chisel. You can also try adhesive removers, mineral spirits, baking soda paste, or a heat gun to soften it for easier removal. Avoid abrasive scouring pads.

Can I pry off sections of a glass tile backsplash?

It is not recommended. Glass tiles can easily crack, shatter, or break. Use a heat gun to slowly soften the adhesive and carefully peel glass tiles off with painter’s tape instead.

What’s the easiest backsplash to remove from a countertop?

Peel-and-stick vinyl backsplashes are the easiest to remove. Just heat with a blow dryer or heat gun, then slowly peel off. No scraping tools needed.

Should I remove nearby appliances when taking off a backsplash?

Yes, remove anything on or near the countertop, like the sink, faucet, soap dispenser, etc. This allows full access and prevents accidental damage.


Removing an existing backsplash takes time, care, and the proper tools for the job. Always review the backsplash material, gather appropriate supplies, prepare the countertop, and take safety precautions. Slowly remove the backsplash, clean the surface thoroughly, then install the beautiful new backsplash you desire. With the right approach, you can successfully upgrade your kitchen with a backsplash you’ll love.