How to Remove Backsplash Glue from Drywall

Removing backsplash glue from drywall can seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools and techniques, it can be done effectively. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to remove backsplash glue from drywall.

What You Need

Before starting the removal process, make sure you have the following supplies ready:

  • Safety gear – gloves, goggles, mask
  • Plastic sheets or drop cloths
  • Paint scraper or putty knife
  • Mineral spirits or adhesive remover
  • Clean rags
  • Sandpaper
  • Drywall mud or joint compound
  • Sanding block
  • Primer
  • Paint

Preparing the Workspace

Start by protecting the surrounding areas from debris. Lay down plastic sheets or drop cloths on the floor and countertops. Open any nearby windows to ensure proper ventilation when using chemical removers. Wear protective gloves, goggles and a mask to prevent direct contact with skin and inhalation of fumes.

Scrape Off Excess Glue

Use a paint scraper or putty knife to gently pry off and scrape away any large chunks of glue from the surface of the drywall. Try to remove as much of the adhesive as possible through scraping before moving to the next steps. Go slowly to avoid gouging the drywall.

Discard the scraped off glue onto the plastic sheets or into a waste bag for easy cleanup later.

Apply Adhesive Remover

For any glue residue left on the drywall, apply a chemical remover such as mineral spirits or an adhesive remover specifically made for backsplash. Use a clean rag to gently rub the remover onto the glue. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes to allow the chemicals time to dissolve the adhesive. The glue should begin bubbling or deteriorating.

Reapply more remover and agitate with the rag as needed for any stubborn areas. Avoid harsh scrubbing, as it may damage the drywall surface. The minerals spirits or remover will loosen the glue’s hold.

Remove Residue with Water

Once the glue appears dissolved, use a new clean rag dampened with warm water to wipe off any remaining remover and sticky residue. The water will help rinse away the chemicals.

Be sure to thoroughly remove all traces of the remover, as it can interfere with preparation for repainting. Wipe the wall down again with plain water on a clean rag after the initial pass.

Pro Tip: For extra sticky glue, try using distilled white vinegar to help break up the bond before wiping with water.

Sand Away Stains

Inspect the drywall for any glue stains that may remain. Use medium-grit sandpaper or a sanding sponge to gently buff these areas until the stains disappear. Be careful not to over-sand, which can damage the drywall surface.

Avoid coarse sandpaper, as it is too abrasive. The goal is to remove any discoloration without stripping away layers of the wall. Wipe away dust with a dry rag once sanding is complete.

Skim Coat with Joint Compound

For any gouges, holes, or uneven areas caused by scraping off the glue, apply a thin layer of drywall joint compound or spackle with a putty knife to smooth them out. Feather out the edges and let dry completely.

Lightly sand once dry if needed to create an even finish. Carefully vacuum up any dust. The wall should now have a uniformly smooth appearance ready for repainting.

Prime and Paint

To prepare the sanded drywall for fresh paint, apply 1-2 coats of drywall primer, allowing proper dry time between coats. Primer will seal the surface and create a uniform base for the new paint.

Once primed, finish by applying at least 2 finishes coats of interior latex paint in the color of your choice, following the manufacturer’s directions. The paint will renew the look of the wall and hide any remaining imperfections.

Tips and Warnings

  • Test removers or solvents on an inconspicuous spot first to check it won’t damage the drywall finish.
  • Never mix chemical removers, as toxic fumes can result.
  • Make sure the room is well ventilated.
  • Avoid excessive water, as it can warp drywall.
  • Wear protective gear when handling remover chemicals.
  • Dispose of glue, removers and rags properly in accordance with local regulations.

With the proper process and care, those old glue stains don’t stand a chance! Removing backsplash glue from drywall takes work, but renewing the look of the wall is worth the effort.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take for backsplash glue remover to work?

Backsplash glue removers need 5-10 minutes to fully penetrate and break down the adhesive bonds. For quicker breakdown, agitate periodically with a rag during the wait time. Thicker glue may take longer to dissolve.

What kind of sander should be used to remove glue stains from drywall?

Use medium-grit (100-150) sandpaper or a sanding sponge. This is abrasive enough to buff out stains but not so coarse that it strips the finish of the drywall itself. Avoid using the roughest sandpaper grades.

Is drywall damage permanent if gouged from scraping off glue?

No, minor nicks or gouges in the drywall from glue scraping can be easily repaired. Just skim over them with a thin coat of drywall joint compound to smooth the area flush with the rest of the wall. Once sanded and primed, paint will hide the repairs.

Can I use household vinegar instead of mineral spirits to remove dried glue?

Yes, distilled white vinegar can help break down old dried glue. Let it soak in for 5-10 minutes and gently agitate with a rag before wiping off with water. It may take a few more applications than a commercial chemical remover.

What kind of primer should be used before painting over glue-stained drywall?

An interior drywall primer formulated for new drywall should be used, as it seals effectively. Opt for a water-based latex primer instead of an oil-based one for best results before painting.


Removing old glue from backsplash projects takes some work, but it can be done with common tools and materials. With surface preparation, chemical removers, sanding, and prep for painting, you can eliminate those sticky stains from drywall once and for all. Just be sure to work carefully to avoid excessive damage to the wall itself. With some perseverance, that drywall can look fresh again!