How to Remove Backsplash Without Damaging Drywall

Removing a tiled backsplash without damaging the drywall underneath can seem daunting, but with the right tools and techniques it can be done successfully. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to remove backsplash tiles without damaging the drywall behind them.

Getting Started

Before beginning demolition, make sure to take a few preparatory steps:

  • Clear the countertops and surrounding area of any items that could get in the way or damaged during the removal process.
  • Cover nearby surfaces like countertops, floors, and appliances with drop cloths or plastic sheeting to protect from debris and dust.
  • Wear safety goggles, dust mask, and gloves to protect yourself during the removal process.
  • Have a pry bar, putty knives, hammer, multi-tool, spackle, and sandpaper ready to smooth and repair the drywall after tile removal.
  • Turn off power at the breaker box to any nearby outlets you may be working around.

Removing the Backsplash Tiles

With the prep work done, it’s time to start removing the backsplash tiles:

Pry Off Whole Tiles

  • Use a pry bar or putty knife to gently pry under the edges of tiles and pop them off the wall. Start at the top and work your way down.
  • Try to remove tiles in whole pieces to minimize damage to the drywall underneath.
  • Work slowly and methodically. Don’t rush and damage more of the wall than necessary.

Break Apart Stubborn Tiles

  • For any tiles that won’t pry off in one piece, use a hammer and screwdriver or chisel to carefully break them apart.
  • Wear eye protection and work carefully to avoid fragments flying.
  • Remove all tile pieces until you have exposed the drywall behind.

Scrape Off Adhesive

  • Use a putty knife, multi-tool, or paint scraper to gently scrape any thinset adhesive off the drywall.
  • Take care not to gouge into the drywall surface.
  • Thoroughly remove as much adhesive residue as possible for a smooth surface.
  • Avoid solvents or harsh chemicals to scrape off adhesive, as these can damage drywall.

Repairing and Smoothing Drywall

Once the backsplash tile is completely removed, repair any drywall damage:

  • Inspect for gouges, holes, or missing drywall paper. Fill moderate holes and gouges with drywall spackle.
  • For larger damaged areas, cut out the drywall section and replace with new drywall, securing with drywall screws.
  • Use joint tape and drywall compound to patch seams or tears in drywall paper.
  • Sand smooth any repairs, ridges, or uneven areas so surface is flat.
  • Prime and paint drywall once smoothing is complete. This helps blend repairs.
  • Caulk along edges where the backsplash meets the countertop or cabinetry.

With care and patience, you can successfully remove backsplash tile without damaging the drywall underneath. Just take it slow and make sure to prep the area. The small amount of drywall repair needed afterward is well worth updating your backsplash with ease.

Frequently Asked Questions

What tools do I need to remove backsplash tile from drywall?

You’ll need a pry bar, putty knives, hammer, chisel, multi-tool, paint scraper, sandpaper, drywall spackle and joint compound, primer, caulk, and safety gear like goggles, gloves, and a mask.

How do I avoid damaging the drywall when removing backsplash tile?

Work slowly, prying tiles off in whole pieces when possible. Use minimal force and avoid gouging or scraping the drywall. Thoroughly remove thinset adhesive without harsh solvents.

What’s the best way to remove stubborn backsplash tile?

For stubborn tiles that won’t pry up, break them carefully into smaller pieces by hammering or chipping away at them. Take it slow to avoid damaging the wall.

How do I prep for removing a backsplash?

Clear the area, cover nearby surfaces with drop cloths, turn off power to outlets, gear up with safety equipment, and have all your tools ready before starting demolition.

How do I smooth drywall after removing backsplash tile?

Inspect for damage, fill holes and gouges with spackle, tape and mud seams as needed, sand until smooth, prime, paint, and caulk edges. This will leave the wall ready for a new backsplash.


Removing backsplash tile doesn’t need to be a stressful process if you take the proper precautions. Have patience, work slowly, and use the right tools and techniques. Focus on prying tiles off intact whenever possible. Any minimal drywall repairs afterward are well worth the clean surface you’ll have for a fresh, new backsplash. With this know-how, you can tackle a backsplash removal and update your kitchen or bath with ease.