How to Remove Backsplash Tile in Kitchen

Removing outdated or damaged backsplash tile in your kitchen can refresh the look of the space. With some time and effort, you can replace the old backsplash with a new material that better suits your taste. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to remove backsplash tile in the kitchen.

Materials Needed

  • Hammer
  • Chisel
  • Putty knife
  • Gloves
  • Safety glasses
  • Dust mask
  • Pry bar
  • Trash bags
  • Shop vacuum

Preparing for Tile Removal

Before starting demolition, you’ll need to prep the workspace. Here are a few tips:

  • Clear the countertops and remove anything on the walls near the backsplash. This gives you room to work and prevents damage to other items.
  • Turn off electricity and gas to the kitchen area if the tiles are near appliances, switches or fixtures.
  • Cover nearby surfaces like countertops with drop cloths to catch falling debris. Tape plastic sheeting over any cabinets or appliances below the backsplash.
  • Have all necessary tools and materials on hand before beginning. This includes personal protective equipment like gloves, dust mask and safety goggles.

Steps for Removing Tile

With prep work done, it’s time to start removing tile. Follow these steps:

1. Score Grout Lines

Use a utility knife or grout saw to score along the grout lines. This will help break up the tiles for easier removal. Apply firm but controlled pressure as you score – don’t push too deep.

2. Knock Off Tiles

Use a hammer and chisel to knock tiles off the wall. Aim for the center of tiles to break their adhesion. Tap gently at first. Remove broken tiles and discard.

3. Remove Mortar

Use a hammer and chisel or pry bar to knock off excess tile mortar. A putty knife is handy for scraping off leftover thinset in spots a pry bar can’t reach. Take it slow to avoid damaging the wall surface.

4. Clean Surface

Once all tiles and adhesive are removed, sweep and vacuum the wall surface thoroughly. Use a putty knife to scrape off any remaining mortar deposits or debris.

5. Make Repairs

Inspect the wall and make any necessary repairs before installing new backsplash. Fill holes or uneven spots with spackle. Sand and smooth repairs for fresh application of tile.

6. Dispose Debris

Carefully place all tile pieces and mortar debris into heavy duty trash bags. Use a shop vac to contain dust and particles. Dispose of waste properly according to local regulations.


  • Go slowly and be patient during removal to avoid damaging the wall surface.
  • Wear safety gear like goggles, gloves and a mask to protect from debris and dust.
  • If tiles don’t release with gentle prying or hammering, soften the adhesive using a heat gun.
  • For natural stone tiles, score through the finish layer before knocking off. Use wider grout lines.
  • Remove any accessories like soap dishes before attempting to pry off surrounding tiles.


How long does it take to remove backsplash tile?

It typically takes 1-2 days for an experienced DIYer to remove an average sized backsplash of around 30-40 sq ft. The demolition process itself may take 3-4 hours. Allow extra time for prep, cleanup and making any repairs.

What tools do I need to remove kitchen backsplash?

A hammer, putty knives, pry bar, chisel, utility knife, gloves and eye protection are essential. Heat guns or oscillating multi-tools can also help. Have a shop vac, drop cloths, plastic sheeting and trash bags on hand.

Can I remove backsplash without damaging drywall?

You can minimize damage by scoring grout lines and going slowly. But some drywall repair may be needed after tile removal. Use painter’s tape around work area and cover nearby surfaces for protection.

How do I get rid of stubborn backsplash adhesive?

For sticky adhesive residue, try adhesive removers or citrus-based solvents. You can also use a putty knife, sandpaper or a wire brush wheel on a power drill. Avoid abrasive methods if they may harm the wall.

What’s the easiest way to remove backsplash tile?

Scoring grout lines before prying makes removal easier. Start tiles by tapping gently from the center outwards. Use a heat gun to soften stubborn mortar before scraping. Take your time.


Removing old or outdated backsplash tile gives you a fresh start for updating your kitchen design. With some simple tools, safety gear and step-by-step demolition, you can clear the way for a stylish new backsplash. Carefully pry off tiles, scrape away adhesive and clean the surface before installing replacement tiles. Be patient and use proper techniques to avoid unneeded damage to walls. With some perseverance and elbow grease, you can achieve a revamped kitchen backsplash.