How to Remove Backsplash from Laminate Countertop


Removing a backsplash from a laminate countertop can be a tricky process, but with the right tools and techniques, it can be done successfully. Laminate countertops are budget-friendly and easy to install, but the downside is that they don’t stand up to high heat and moisture as well as other countertop materials. Over time, the backsplash area behind a stove or sink is prone to damage from spills and steam. Replacing just the backsplash section is often preferable to replacing the entire laminate countertop. This guide will walk through all the steps needed to remove and replace a laminate backsplash while avoiding damage to the countertop.

Gather the Right Tools and Materials

Taking the time to gather the proper tools and materials for removing and replacing a laminate backsplash will make the process smoother. Here’s a list of what you’ll need:

  • Pry bar – A sturdy pry bar is essential for gently loosening the backsplash from the countertop and wall. Look for one with a flattened edge to prevent scratching.
  • Putty knife – For scraping away old caulk and adhesive, a putty knife with a flexible steel blade works best.
  • Hammer – A hammer may be needed to tap the pry bar in order to detach the backsplash. Use gentle tapping motions.
  • Screwdriver – A Phillips head screwdriver can remove any screws holding the backsplash in place.
  • Damp rags – Keeping rags moist with water will help control dust from demolition.
  • Drop cloths – Protect floors and surfaces from debris with canvas drop cloths or plastic sheeting.
  • Adhesive remover – A solvent formulated for removing construction adhesive will clean off old adhesive residue.
  • Sandpaper – For smoothing any uneven areas, start with medium grit sandpaper and move up to fine grit.
  • Scrap lumber – Small boards can protect the countertop edge during prying.
  • New backsplash material – Have the new laminate or alternate backsplash material on-hand before beginning demo.
  • Backsplash adhesive – Use adhesive designed for laminate backsplash installation.
  • Caulk – Color-matched caulk will provide a finished look after installing the new backsplash.
  • Safety gear – Wear safety goggles and a dust mask when removing the old backsplash.

Prep the Countertop Area

It’s important to properly prepare the countertop prior to attempting to pry off the existing backsplash. Follow these tips:

  • Clear everything off countertops and remove any items from walls in the backsplash area.
  • Protect surfaces surrounding the countertop with drop cloths.
  • Detach any accessories, like towel bars or soap dispensers, attached to the existing backsplash. Set screws aside for reinstallation later.
  • Disconnect electrical outlets or switches located on backsplash area. Turn off appropriate breakers.
  • Thoroughly clean countertop and backsplash area to remove dirt and grease buildup.

Prepping the workspace completely before backsplash removal prevents damage to surrounding surfaces.

Carefully Detach the Backsplash

With the right preparations made, it’s time to start detaching the backsplash from the countertop and wall. Here are some step-by-step tips for safe removal:

  • Locate top edge of backsplash and place a pry bar between backsplash and countertop. Place scrap lumber underneath pry bar to protect countertop edge.
  • Lightly tap pry bar with hammer to gently pop backsplash free from countertop adhesive. Apply even pressure as you work across entire top edge.
  • Once top is detached, move pry bar to seam between backsplash and wall. Again use gentle tapping motions to work down entire seam, releasing backsplash from wall surface.
  • If sections are stubborn, apply more pressure with pry bar or use putty knife to sever old caulk adhesive. Keep pry bar flat to prevent gouges.
  • As you detach the backsplash, support it carefully to prevent cracking. Depending on material, it may be reusable for the new installation if undamaged.
  • Completely remove any screws, plastic wall anchors, caulk or remaining adhesive. This will leave a clean surface for the new backsplash.
  • Take precautions not to damage the laminate countertop or drywall during prying. Stop and reassess if significant force becomes necessary.

Working methodically with the proper tools will allow the backsplash to be removed with minimal repair work required. Avoid using forceful hammering or prying motions which can damage adjoining surfaces.

Prepare the Surface for a New Backsplash

Once the old backsplash is fully removed, preparation is required to get the surface ready for a new backsplash installation.

  • Use a putty knife to scrape away any remaining adhesive residue or caulk from the countertop, wall surface and backside of the detached backsplash piece.
  • For heavy adhesive residue, apply adhesive remover with a rag and let it sit for several minutes before scrubbing clean.
  • Lightly sand any uneven areas on the countertop or drywall that were exposed after backsplash removal. Start with medium grit sandpaper and smooth with fine grit.
  • Wipe down all surfaces thoroughly with a degreasing cleaner and let fully dry. This allows for proper adhesion.
  • Check for level and plumb. Use shims if necessary to ensure the new backsplash will install flush against the countertop and wall.
  • Cut new backsplash material to size as needed. Dry fit before final installation and make any additional adjustments.
  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions for specific backsplash materials. With laminate, carefully trim edges and drill holes as needed for outlets and fixtures.

Taking time to correctly prepare the surface will result in a smooth installation of the new backsplash. Avoid applying the new one over damaged or uncleaned surfaces for best results.

Reinstall the New Backsplash

Once prepped, it’s time to adhere the new backsplash material using proper techniques. Here are some tips:

  • Apply a bead of backsplash adhesive around the perimeter of the backsplash piece. Use enough to create a strong bond, but avoid excess squeeze-out.
  • Carefully press backsplash to wall surface and hold firmly for 30-60 seconds. Use scrap lumber and clamps if needed.
  • After ensuring backsplash is fully adhered to wall, run another bead of adhesive along the countertop seam.
  • Line up backsplash piece and lower it onto countertop adhesive, pressing firmly. Hold for 60 seconds minimum.
  • Insert any screws removed from original backsplash into new one. Be careful not to overtighten.
  • Allow adhesive to fully cure according to manufacturer directions before reinstalling accessories or using countertop area.
  • Apply color-matched caulk between backsplash and wall, and between backsplash and countertop. Smooth with fingertip for finished look.
  • Reconnect any electrical outlets/switches on backsplash as needed. Turn breakers back on and test for power.
  • Clean-up all tools, materials and debris from backsplash installation. Remove drop cloths and rags.
  • Use a non-abrasive cleanser and soft cloth to gently clean the newly installed backsplash area.

Taking the time to properly secure the new backsplash piece will ensure it stays adhered and withstands wear and tear. Allowing proper cure time prevents separation or damage.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Despite best efforts, some issues can arise when removing and replacing a laminate backsplash. Here are some common problems and solutions:

Backsplash won’t detach from wall or countertop: If the pry bar and hammer tapping method isn’t working, use a heat gun to gently warm the adhesive which should help it release. Avoid overheating.

Chipping or cracks in countertop: This is often due to using too much force and improper prying technique. Repair with laminate patches or fillers and blend color/pattern if needed with markers.

Damage to wall from prying: Lightly fill any gouges with spackle, let dry and sand smooth before applying new backsplash.

New backsplash not sticking: Ensure all surfaces were properly prepped and cleaned. Old residue likely remains. Reclean and use additional adhesive.

Adhesive oozing: Allow proper cure time and don’t overload trowel. After cure, can gently scrape away excess dried adhesive.

Laminate backsplash blistering: This is caused by insufficient adhesive application or failure to let adhesive fully cure. Remove backsplash and reinstall properly.

Gaps forming: Apply additional caulk in problem areas. Check for level and plumb and use shims if countertop or walls are uneven.

By taking precautions and having patience during the process, many common issues can be prevented completely.

FAQs: Removing and Replacing Laminate Backsplash

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about removing and replacing laminate countertop backsplash:

What tools do I need to remove a laminate backsplash?

You’ll need a pry bar, putty knife, hammer, screws, rags, safety gear and adhesive remover. Avoid power tools to prevent damage to countertop or wall.

How do I remove the existing backsplash without damaging my countertop?

Use a pry bar with a flattened edge and place scrap lumber under it to protect the countertop edge. Gently tap the pry bar to detach adhesive. Don’t use excessive force.

What’s the easiest way to get off old caulk and adhesive?

A solvent-based adhesive remover works best. Apply a layer, let it sit per directions, then scrub away residue with putty knife or pad.

What should I use to re-adhere the new laminate backsplash?

Use a high-quality laminate adhesive made specifically for bonding laminate to surfaces. Do not use household glue or caulk.

How long does the adhesive need to cure before using the countertop area?

Check adhesive label, but most require 24-48 hours of cure time before normal use of the countertop. Allow additional drying before using harsh cleaners.

Can I reuse the old laminate backsplash or do I need a new piece?

If prying off carefully, the old backsplash can be reused if it’s still in good condition with no cracks, warps or other damage.

What’s the best way to get a smooth finish between backsplash and wall?

Caulk gaps between backsplash and wall with a color-matched caulk. Tool the caulk with fingertip for a smooth seamless appearance once dry.

What if my laminate backsplash detaches again after installing?

Improper surface prep or curing likely caused poor adhesion. Thoroughly clean and sand the area, allow proper cure time and reapply quality adhesive.


Removing and replacing a laminate countertop backsplash is a project a motivated DIYer can take on, as long as proper tools and techniques are used. The keys are working slowly with a gentle prying motion, prepping surfaces completely, using the right construction adhesives, and allowing adequate cure time. Patience and care will result in a successful backsplash removal and installation. With the right approach, you can renew the backsplash area without needing to replace the entire laminate countertop.