How to Remove Backsplash and Replace


Backsplashes protect walls from water damage and splattering in kitchens and bathrooms. While aesthetically pleasing, backsplashes can be damaged over time and may need replacing. Removing and replacing a backsplash requires proper tools, materials, and techniques to avoid damaging the wall underneath. This guide will walk you through the complete process of removing old backsplash and installing a new one with step-by-step instructions.

Supplies Needed

Before starting any demolition, gather all the necessary supplies:

  • Protective gear – safety goggles, dust mask, and work gloves
  • Flat pry bar
  • Hammer
  • Utility knife
  • Putty knife
  • Screwdriver
  • Caulk gun
  • Shop vacuum
  • Drop cloths
  • Garbage bags
  • Replacement backsplash tiles/sheets
  • Tile adhesive
  • Grout
  • Grout sealer
  • Caulk
  • Spacers
  • Tile cutter/nipper

Safety Tips

When dealing with a backsplash removal and replacement project, follow these safety tips:

  • Turn off power at the circuit breaker to avoid electrocution.
  • Wear protective gear like goggles, mask, and gloves to prevent injury from debris.
  • Use drop cloths to protect surrounding surfaces from damage.
  • Work slowly and carefully to avoid accidents.
  • Use tools properly and safely.
  • Clean up debris as you go to prevent slips or trips.
  • Get help lifting heavy materials like countertops.
  • Follow all manufacturer’s instructions for materials used.

Step-by-Step Guide

Follow these detailed steps to successfully remove an existing backsplash and install a new one in your kitchen or bathroom.

1. Remove Accessories and Prep the Area

Before starting demolition, you need to properly prepare the workspace:

  • Clear countertops and remove anything attached to walls like soap dispensers, mirrors, outlet covers, etc.
  • Clean the backsplash area thoroughly to remove any grease or grime.
  • Turn off electricity and water supply.
  • Cover nearby surfaces with drop cloths.
  • Have garbage bags ready for debris disposal.

2. Detach the Backsplash from Wall

To detach the backsplash tiles/sheets from the wall:

  • Locate all grout lines using a utility knife or putty knife.
  • Tap grout lines with hammer to loosen bonds.
  • Insert pry bar under tiles and gently pry them upwards.
  • Slowly work way across entire backsplash detaching each tile/sheet.
  • Remove any stubborn tiles with screwdriver.
  • Dispose of all debris safely.
  • Inspect wall for any damage that needs repairing.

3. Prep the Wall Surface

Once backsplash is removed, the wall surface needs proper prep:

  • Scrape off any remaining grout or adhesive with putty knife.
  • Clean wall surface thoroughly.
  • Fill any holes or cracks in drywall with spackle and let dry.
  • Sand patches until smooth and flush with wall.
  • Wipe away dust with damp cloth.
  • Apply primer to freshly patched areas.

4. Dry Fit the New Backsplash

Before installing with adhesive, do a dry fit:

  • Measure area to be tiled.
  • Plan tile layout based on measurements.
  • Cut border tiles with tile nippers if needed.
  • Arrange tiles on floor to determine optimal layout.
  • Hold tiles up to wall without adhesive to visualize finished look.
  • Make any necessary adjustments before final installation.

5. Apply Adhesive to Wall

To adhere backsplash tiles to the wall:

  • Stir tile adhesive well before using.
  • Apply adhesive to wall area using notched trowel in straight rows.
  • Spread only enough adhesive that tiles can cover within 10-15 minutes.
  • Follow adhesive manufacturer’s instructions for setup time.

6. Install New Backsplash Tiles

Once adhesive is ready, carefully install new tiles:

  • Press tiles firmly into adhesive starting at bottom row.
  • Use spacers between tiles for even grout lines.
  • Work in small sections across the backsplash area.
  • Occasionally lift a tile to check adhesive transfer to back.
  • Remove any adhesive on tile faces immediately with damp cloth.
  • Allow tiles to set undisturbed for at least 24 hours.

7. Apply Grout Between Tiles

After the tiles cure, grout application can begin:

  • Dampen tiles slightly with sponge before grouting.
  • Spread grout over sections using rubber grout float.
  • Push grout into gaps between tiles.
  • Clean excess grout from surface using diagonal motions.
  • Smooth and shape grout lines with damp sponge.
  • Allow grout to dry completely according to manufacturer.
  • Use grout sealer to protect grout lines.

8. Finalize the Installation

The final steps complete the backsplash installation:

  • Apply caulk along countertop-backsplash joint.
  • Allow caulk to dry fully before exposure to water.
  • Replace any accessories like soap dispensers.
  • Attach trimmed outlet covers if needed.
  • Seal newly installed backsplash with grout sealer.
  • Turn on electricity and water supply.
  • Clean backsplash fully with dish soap and water.


What tools do I need to remove tile backsplash?

You’ll need safety gear, pry bar, hammer, utility knife, putty knife, screwdriver, shop vacuum, drop cloths, and garbage bags. Avoid power tools to prevent wall damage.

How do you remove stubborn backsplash tile?

For stubborn tiles, insert a flat pry bar under the tile edge and gently pry upwards. You can also use a screwdriver to slowly chisel under tough tiles. Apply heat using a hairdryer to help loosen strong adhesive.

How do you prep a wall for new backsplash?

Prep steps include scraping off old adhesive, cleaning the surface, filling holes/cracks, sanding, priming patched areas, and wiping away dust. This leaves a smooth, clean surface for the new backsplash to adhere properly.

Can I install a backsplash directly over existing tile?

It’s not recommended to install backsplash over existing tile. The layers can separate over time leading to failure. Remove existing backsplash completely before installing the new one.

How long does backsplash tile adhesive take to dry?

Adhesive drying times depend on the product used. Most take 24-48 hours to cure fully. Don’t grout or expose to water until adhesive has dried completely. Consult manufacturer directions.

How do you apply grout for backsplash tiles?

Apply grout over small sections using a rubber grout float. Push grout into gaps between tiles. Clean off excess grout diagonally across tiles. Smooth and shape lines with a damp sponge and allow drying completely before sealing.


Removing and replacing a backsplash is a manageable DIY project with some time and effort. Have patience working the old tiles off without damaging walls. Thorough prep and using quality materials for the new backsplash will ensure it lasts for years. Follow the safety tips and techniques outlined to get professional looking results. With the right tools and materials, you can upgrade your backsplash and increase the value of your kitchen or bathroom.