How to Remove Backsplash in Bathroom

Removing a backsplash in your bathroom can seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools and technique it can be accomplished as a DIY project. A backsplash not only serves a functional purpose of protecting the walls from moisture damage, but it also acts as a decorative focal point in the room. Over time, styles change and backsplashes can start to look outdated. Replacing it entirely provides an opportunity to update the look and feel of your bathroom. This article will walk you through the whole process step-by-step.

Assessing the Existing Backsplash

The first step is to look closely at the existing backsplash and understand how it was originally installed. This will determine the proper removal technique.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What material is the backsplash made of? Ceramic tile, metal, glass, and stone all require different approaches.
  • Is the backsplash set in a mortar bed or attached directly to the wall? Mortar beds take more work to dismantle.
  • Are the tiles grouted or attached together? Grout allows tiles to be popped off one by one while attached tiles need to be chiseled off.
  • How large are the backsplash tiles or sheets? Large sections may be more difficult to deal with.
  • Does the backsplash extend beyond the actual splash zone or only behind the sink/faucet? Full walls are more labor intensive.
  • Are there special tools needed based on the material such as a glass cutter or heat gun?

Doing a thorough assessment first gives you a game plan for the removal and any safety precautions to take. Check for potential electrical or plumbing that could be hidden behind the backsplash as well.

Gather Necessary Materials and Tools

Based on the type of backsplash you have, gather the proper tools and materials to protect yourself and simplify the removal process. Here are some common items needed:

Safety gear

  • Work gloves to protect hands from sharp edges
  • Safety glasses to prevent debris getting in eyes
  • Dust mask to avoid inhaling particles
  • Ear protection from loud noises


  • Hammer or pry bar to pull off tiles
  • Putty knife or chisel to scrape off remaining mortar
  • Screwdriver to remove screws from sheets of metal or plastic
  • Utility knife to cut through caulk or tile edges
  • Heat gun to soften glues or mastics


  • Drop cloths or tarps to cover surfaces for debris
  • Cardboard and packing tape to remove broken tiles
  • Garbage bags for removing debris
  • Shop vacuum to frequently clean up debris

It’s better to have these items readily available than to stop work halfway through. Consider renting or borrowing any specialty tools needed as well.

Prepare the Workspace

Now it’s time to set up a proper workspace to perform the backsplash removal efficiently and safely.

  • Clear the area of any bath towels, rugs, shower curtains or accessories that could get damaged.
  • Cover the vanity, sink and tub with drop cloths or plastic sheeting taped down to catch fallen pieces.
  • Have a step stool or small ladder ready if working on a taller backsplash. Use caution working at heights.
  • Open the window for fresh air circulation and ventilation when breaking up materials.
  • Keep a vacuum ready to frequently clean up debris, dust and shards of tile or glass.
  • Have a garbage bin nearby to dispose of larger broken off pieces immediately.
  • Work systematically from one end of the backsplash to the other for a smooth flow.

Preparing the bathroom properly takes time upfront but avoids making a bigger mess or damaging other areas in the process.

Remove Existing Caulk or Grout

Before dismantling the backsplash itself, any caulk or grout lines between the tiles or sheets needs to be removed first with these steps:

  1. Use a utility knife to slice along all grout lines and around the outer edges. This separates the layers.
  2. Apply heat from a hair dryer or heat gun to soften the caulk if needed so it can be scraped off easier.
  3. Use a putty knife, chisel or oscillating tool to scrape away the existing grout or caulk entirely down to the bare surface.
  4. Vacuum up any crumbs and dust with a small crevice tool to keep the workspace clean.
  5. Repeat this process methodically across the whole backsplash surface until all grout and caulk is removed.

Taking off the grout allows you to dismantle the backsplash materials safely. Rushing this step can lead to buried grout debris getting on the new backsplash.

Remove Backsplash Tiles

For ceramic, porcelain or stone backsplash tiles set in mortar, the removal process takes precision and patience:

  1. Wearing safety glasses and gloves, use a pry bar or hammer to gently tap underneath one edge of a tile to loosen it.
  2. Once lifted slightly, continue tapping it upward little by little until it fully releases from the mortar.
  3. Carefully pry neighboring tiles off in the same manner one by one until a full section is removed.
  4. Use a chisel or putty knife to scrape off any remaining mortar from the freed up area of the wall down to the bare surface.
  5. Vacuum and wipe the area clean before moving onto the next set of tiles.
  6. Stack broken tiles neatly on cardboard and tape for easy transport and disposal.
  7. Repeat steps across the entire backsplash, taking frequent breaks to avoid fatigue.

Rushing this process risks cracking more tiles or leaving stubborn mortar behind on the wall, so be patient and methodical as you work across the backsplash.

Remove Backsplash Sheets

For backsplashes made of full sheets of metal, plastic or fiberglass panels, a different approach is needed:

  1. Locate any screws or special fasteners that are securing the sheet to the wall and remove them with a screwdriver.
  2. Wedge a pry bar or putty knife into the seam and gently pry upwards to pop the sheet off the wall.
  3. You may need to strike the pry bar with a hammer to break the seal from caulk or adhesive.
  4. Heat may help soften mastics or glue holding the sheet on for easier removal.
  5. Peel the sheet off carefully and watch for any stubborn fasteners left behind.
  6. Scrape leftover adhesive residue or caulk with a putty knife until the wall is clean and bare.
  7. Transport panels outside individually and stack against the wall to avoid bending.

This approach prevents fastener holes or damage to the backsplash sheets which can sometimes be reused or sold secondhand rather than disposed of.

Demolish Mortar Bed Backsplashes

Heavily mortared tile backsplashes require deeper demolition including:

  1. Chip away at the mortar bed with a chisel and hammer from the bottom up.
  2. Break up sections starting in a back corner working outward to spread impact.
  3. Use a pry bar and hammer to knock off chunks of the mortar base.
  4. Wear safety glasses and a particle mask to protect from blowing debris.
  5. Vacuum frequently to contain dust and pieces within the contained workspace.
  6. Dispose of rubble directly into garbage bags to prevent settling in the sink or tub area.
  7. Inspect waterproofing underneath that may need replacing after demolition.
  8. Scrape and clean the wall down to bare studs or cement backer board.

Mortar demolition can be messy and exhausting. Allow sufficient time and take precautions to avoid injury or excessive debris.

Final Steps for Removal Process

Once the backsplash demolition is complete, finish up with these final steps:

  • Do a final sweeping and vacuuming to pick up the last bits of fallen debris and dust. Check under vanities or edges for hidden shards.
  • Seal leftover debris in garbage bags and transport to a dumpster or scheduled bulk waste pickup.
  • Inspect the freshly exposed wall for any damage that needs repair before the new backsplash is installed.
  • Patch small holes in drywall then prime the surface so it’s ready for the next backsplash.
  • Discard any broken tools or materials that won’t be reused.
  • Give the bathroom a thorough cleaning including sinks, tile and the tub or shower.
  • Remove drop cloths and reset accessories like towels and shower curtains.

Taking time for a final detailed cleanup and inspection ensures the room is reset and prepped for a smooth installation of the next backsplash.

Safety Tips

When taking on a backsplash removal project, incorporating proper safety measures is critical:

  • Wear OSHA-approved eye, ear and breathing protection at all times during demolition.
  • Use thick work gloves and steel-toe boots to protect from sharp debris and heavy materials.
  • Handle broken shards carefully and dispose of them promptly to avoid cuts.
  • Read product labels and follow instructions for proper use of any solvents or chemicals.
  • Open windows and use fans to ventilate demolition dust and fumes from the workspace.
  • Move slowly on ladders or step stools and maintain proper balance when working at heights.
  • Take breaks to avoid fatigue that can lead to risky situations or injuries.
  • Keep the workspace clear of electronics, pets or children during the project.
  • Disconnect power tools when not in use and avoid working near live electrical wiring.
  • Have a first aid kit available to treat any minor cuts or abrasions promptly.

Being mindful of safety lowers the risks inherent in demolition projects like backsplash removal. Protect yourself first so the focus stays on the work.

DIY vs Professional Removal

While a skilled DIYer can take on a backsplash removal successfully in many cases, some situations warrant hiring a professional removal service:

Consider professional help for:

  • Large backsplash areas covering multiple walls or rooms
  • Mortar bed showers or tub surrounds needing full demolition
  • Older materials potentially containing asbestos or lead
  • Intricate built-in backsplashes with special fasteners or connections
  • Limited ability to dispose of construction debris yourself
  • Concerns about dust infiltration into other living spaces

DIY removal works well for:

  • Small contained backsplash areas like behind a single vanity
  • Modern materials like ceramic, glass or plastic tiles
  • Backsplashes using mastic, thinset or adhesive installation
  • Homeowners experienced with demolition tools and techniques
  • Ability to dispose of debris responsibly on your own

Evaluating the scope of work plus your own skill level and capacity helps determine the best route – DIY or professional replacement. Keep safety as the top priority either way.

Preparing for New Backsplash

Once you successfully tackle the work of removing your outdated or damaged backsplash, it’s time to turn your attention to the exciting part – selecting a beautiful new backsplash design!

Here are key ways to prepare the space after removal is complete:

  • Repair/replace any damaged wall material and ensure the surface is smooth and clean.
  • Conduct any electrical or plumbing improvements needed behind the walls while they are exposed.
  • Prime and paint the walls with mold-resistant bathroom paint for a fresh backdrop.
  • Decide on the material, layout, pattern, color scheme and style suited to your space.
  • Read up on the latest trends and innovations available in backsplash products and tiles.
  • Measure carefully and map out the new backsplash dimensions and arrangement.
  • Order your tiles, adhesive and grout well in advance of the installation date.

Taking it one step at a time will lead to a gorgeous new backsplash you’ll absolutely love!

FAQs about Removing Bathroom Backsplash

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about removing an existing backsplash:

What tools do I need to remove a bathroom backsplash?

Common tools needed are a putty knife, chisel, pry bar, hammer, utility knife, screwdriver, heat gun, safety glasses & gloves, vacuum, drop cloths, ladder/stool and garbage bags.

How should I dispose of an old backsplash?

Carefully collect broken pieces on cardboard and transport to a dumpster. Check if ceramic tile or natural stone can be recycled locally. If handling asbestos materials, follow proper hazardous waste disposal regulations.

How long does it take to remove a backsplash?

Removal time varies based on size, complexity and method of installation. Simple ceramic tile backsplashes can take 2-4 hours. Large mortared stone backsplashes could take 1-2 days.

What’s the best way to remove backsplash adhesive?

Heat guns or a handheld steamer help soften adhesive for scraping with a putty knife. Citrus-based solvents also help dissolve mastic. Ensure the wall surface is clean after removing adhesive residue.

Can I sell or donate leftover backsplash tile?

Sometimes intact tiles or sheets can be salvaged and sold on resale sites or donated for craft projects. Confirm with the recipient the materials are wanted before providing them leftover backsplash.

Is removing a backsplash a 1 or 2 person job?

For safety have at least 2 people so one can hold materials while the other detaches them from the wall. Larger jobs may need a team for demolition and debris removal.

How do I remove backsplash caulk?

Use a utility knife to slice along all caulk seams then heat it with a heat gun to soften. Scrape off with a putty knife. Avoid gouging the walls while scraping off old caulk.

What are signs I should hire a pro and not DIY?

Consider hiring a professional if the area is large, you lack experience, special tools are needed, or the material contains asbestos or lead requiring abatement.


Removing an outdated or damaged backsplash takes time and labor but opens new design possibilities. With the proper safety gear, tools and techniques, this is a project a motivated DIYer can successfully take on. Focus on careful preparation, setting up a safe workspace and demolishing materials systematically. Ask for help from professionals when warranted. The end result will be a blank canvas ready for your new dream backsplash design!

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Are you thinking about starting a paid newsletter but don’t know where to begin? Launching and running a successful newsletter is within reach if you follow these steps.

Define Your Niche and Audience

Before anything else, get crystal clear on the niche your newsletter will focus on and who your target audience is. Having a tight niche gives you authority and also makes it easier to market to your ideal subscribers. Define the demographics like age range, gender, interests and common pain points of your audience avatar.

Research the Competition

See what other paid newsletters exist in your niche by searching online directories like Substack, Revue and Patreon. Make a list of competitors and analyze what they offer subscribers, their pricing tiers, tone and engagement level. Don’t copy them outright but let them inspire ways you can differentiate your own offering.

Decide on Your Monetization Model

Most paid newsletters use subscription payments, but you can also incorporate advertising, affiliates and product sales. Free newsletters can work with solely ads or sponsorships. Figure out what revenue streams make the most sense for your goals, audience and content model to maximize income.

Choose Your Publishing Platform

Select a newsletter platform that supports your monetization model with built-in payment processing, email list management, templates and analytics. Popular options are Substack, Revue, Buttondown, Ghost and ConvertKit. Each has pros and cons so do thorough testing to decide.

Craft Your Brand Identity

Create a unique brand identity for your newsletter including the name, logo, color scheme, fonts and tone of voice that reflects your niche. This will carry through your platform, emails, promotions and any swag. Be consistent across assets to form instant recognition among subscribers.

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Have a professional looking standalone website to complement your newsletter content and give readers a hub to learn more about you. Use a simple blogging platform like WordPress. Integrate your signup form, showcase benefits of subscribing, share about yourself and link to your social media.

Grow Your Email List

Ways to build your subscriber email list include guest posting on related sites with a newsletter signup call to action, promoting through your social media, networking with influencers in your field to cross-promote each other’s newsletters and good old fashioned word of mouth.

Create Irresistible Content

The key to a successful paid newsletter is consistently creating compelling content that provides real value to your readers on topics your ideal audience cares about. Brainstorm ongoing segments, interview experts, provide tactical tips, reveal insider secrets and more. Map out themes and articles in advance.

Set Your Pricing

Factor in the time investment required to run your newsletter, competitive rates and what perceived value you’re providing subscribers. Many start with free or discounted subscriptions to hook readers then raise prices once established. Offer premium tiers like ad-free versions for serious fans.

Handle the Admin Work

Don’t forget the unglamorous side of managing subscriptions, sending broadcast emails, moderating comments and troubleshooting technical issues. Streamline processes so you can focus the majority of time actually producing content vs admin work. Outsource what you can.

Following this roadmap will transform your idea into a functioning, revenue generating newsletter. Continue optimizing and catering to your audience’s needs to achieve lasting success. Your fans are waiting!

Key Takeaways

  • Define your niche, audience and unique value proposition
  • Research competitors but differentiate your offering
  • Decide on a monetization model and choose a publishing platform
  • Create your brand identity and marketing assets
  • Build up your email subscriber list
  • Produce irres