How to Remove Backsplash in Kitchen

Removing a backsplash in your kitchen can seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools and techniques, it can be done successfully. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to remove tile, glass, or other backsplash materials from your kitchen walls.

Assessing Your Backsplash

The first step is to take a close look at your existing backsplash to understand what you’re working with.

  • What material is it made of – ceramic tile, glass tile, metal, etc.?
  • What size are the tiles or sheets?
  • Are there multiple layers like tile over backerboard?
  • How was it installed – mortar, adhesive, grout?

Knowing the specifics of your backsplash will allow you to plan the proper removal method.

Gather Your Materials

Based on the type of backsplash you have, gather the necessary tools and materials to remove it safely and effectively:

  • Protective gear – Safety goggles, dust mask, work gloves
  • Pry bar – To pop tiles off the wall
  • Hammer and chisel – For breaking up material
  • Putty knife or oscillating tool – To scrape off adhesive or grout
  • Utility knife – For cutting seams of backsplash sheets
  • Bucket or spray bottle – For water to soak tiles and sheets
  • Trash bags – For removal of debris

Make sure you have all equipment ready before starting demo.

Protect Your Kitchen

To avoid damaging your kitchen, take steps to protect countertops, floors, and appliances:

  • Clear countertops of any items that may get damaged.
  • Cover surfaces with drop cloths or plastic sheeting.
  • Tape plastic over cabinets and appliances.
  • Turn off electricity to any outlets in the backsplash area.

Proper prep will make for easier cleanup later.

Remove Backsplash Carefully

With your materials gathered and kitchen protected, you’re ready to start removing the backsplash:

Tile Backsplash

  • Soak tiles – Spray or apply water generously to soak in behind tiles.
  • Cut grout lines – Use a utility knife or oscillating tool to cut along grout lines.
  • Pry up tiles – Insert pry bar into seams and gently pry tiles off the wall.
  • Scrape adhesive – Use putty knife or oscillating tool to scrape off remaining tile adhesive.

Glass or Metal Sheets

  • Cut seams – Use a sharp utility knife to cut along seams between sheets.
  • Heat adhesive – Use a heat gun to soften old adhesive and make it easier to scrape off.
  • Slowly peel away – Once seams are cut, carefully peel sheets off the wall.

Stone Slab Backsplash

  • Cut any grout lines – Use an oscillating tool or chisel to cut along grout.
  • Drill holes – Drill holes into slabs to insert pry bar and break adhesion.
  • Pry off gently – Work pry bar behind to pop slab off the wall slowly.

Take your time removing all materials to avoid damaging drywall underneath.

Clean the Walls

Once backsplash is removed, inspect wall condition. Fill any gouges with spackle and sand smooth.

Use a putty knife, oscillating tool, or sandpaper to scrape off any remaining debris, adhesive, or grout residue from walls. Wipe with damp cloth.

Consider priming walls with new coat of paint or drywall sealer before installing new backsplash.

Dispose of Debris

Bag all removed backsplash pieces carefully to avoid injury. Broken tile and glass can be very sharp!

Deposit debris in proper dumpster or trash receptacles. Contact local municipal office for disposal requirements in your area.

Now the kitchen is clear for a fresh, new backsplash design!

FAQ About Removing Backsplash

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

How long does it take to remove a backsplash?

Removal time depends on size of area, materials, and installation method. Allocate at least 2-5 hours for a small backsplash. Larger tile jobs could take 8-10 hours.

What’s the easiest backsplash to remove?

Self-adhesive plastic backsplashes come off quickest. Tile bonded with mastic adhesive is easier than mortar. Grout makes the process slower.

Can I remove backsplash myself or should I hire a contractor?

Homeowners can tackle tile, glass, or laminate backsplash removal with proper tools. Stone slabs often require pro demo.

What’s the hardest backsplash to take down?

Heavily grouted ceramic tile is very labor intensive. Natural stone is difficult without professional tools.

How can I make backsplash removal cleaner and easier?

Protecting surfaces, pre-cutting seams, and soaking tiles helps immensely. Removing debris frequently prevents bigger messes.


Removing an outdated or damaged backsplash takes time and care, but opens up opportunities for a kitchen update. With protective prep, the right tools, and patience during demolition, you can successfully take down tile, glass, or slab backsplash without harming walls. Just be sure to dispose of sharp debris safely. Follow with a good clean and your kitchen will be ready for a backsplash makeover.