How to Remove Backsplash Without Damaging the Countertop

Removing a backsplash without damaging the countertop underneath can seem daunting, but with the right techniques and tools it can be done safely and efficiently. Here are some tips on how to remove tile or other backsplash materials without harming your countertops.

Prepare the Workspace

First things first – make sure you clear the countertop area of any items, appliances, etc. that could get in the way or be damaged during the removal process. It’s also a good idea to remove any nearby curtains, towels or other fabrics so they don’t get covered in dust and debris.

You’ll want to have the following supplies handy:

  • Safety goggles and mask
  • Pry bar or putty knife
  • Hammer
  • Scraper/chisel
  • Dustpan and vacuum

Make sure you have adequate lighting and ventilation, and cover any sections of the countertop you aren’t removing backsplash from with rosin paper or painter’s tape for protection.

Break the Seal

In most cases, the backsplash was installed using thinset adhesive mortar or mastic. You’ll need to break the seal between the backsplash and countertop so you can pry the pieces off.

Start by running a sharp utility knife along the seam where the backsplash meets the countertop. Don’t try to cut through the backsplash, just score the caulk seal.

Next, take a pry bar and gently insert the edge between the backsplash and countertop. Slowly pry upwards and sideways to loosen the backsplash. Apply pressure gradually and carefully to avoid cracking the tiles or damaging the countertop.

Remove Backsplash Pieces

Once you’ve freed the bottom edge of the backsplash pieces from the countertop, you can start removing them one by one.

Continue working the pry bar underneath to lift the tiles or panels up. For stubborn areas, use a hammer and chisel to carefully chip away at the adhesive behind the backsplash.

Take your time and be patient – rushing this step risks harming the underlying surface. As you remove pieces, place them directly into a trash bag or bucket to keep the workspace clean.

If any backsplash remnants stay stuck to the countertop, use a scraper or putty knife to gently lift them off. Avoid abrasive scrub pads or harsh chemicals that could scratch or discolor the countertop.

Clean and Tidy Up

Once the backsplash has been completely removed, thoroughly clean the newly exposed countertop area. Use a shop vacuum to pick up all dust, debris and leftover adhesive bits.

Go over the surface with a damp microfiber cloth and a small amount of mild cleaner safe for the countertop material. Avoid excessive moisture and be extra gentle around any seams or rough areas.

Let the countertop dry completely. You may need to use adhesive remover if any residue remains. Follow up with a countertop polish to restore shine and protection.

Finally, neatly dispose of the old backsplash pieces and materials. Make sure to protect the exposed countertop area until you install a new backsplash. With some care and elbow grease, you can remove backsplash without damaging the underlying surface!

FAQs About Removing Backsplash Without Harming Countertops

Here are some frequently asked questions about safely taking out a backsplash:

What tools do I need to remove backsplash?

The basic tools needed are a pry bar, putty knife, scraper, hammer, chisel, vacuum, and safety gear like gloves and goggles. Avoid power tools that can crack tile or mar countertops.

How do I keep the countertop from getting damaged?

Work slowly, use protection like tape or rosin paper on the countertop, and take care when prying or scraping to not gouge the surface underneath. Avoid harsh chemicals.

What’s the best way to get rid of old adhesive?

Try using a plastic scraper, mineral spirits, or adhesive remover made for the countertop surface. Avoid abrasive pads or scrubbing to prevent scratching.

Can I remove just part of the backsplash?

It’s best to take off the entire backsplash for a uniform look. But you can carefully remove only certain sections if needed – just take extra care around the seam lines.

What’s the easiest backsplash to remove?

Self-adhesive, peel-and-stick backsplashes come off the cleanest. Tile, metal, or glass backsplashes require more prying and scraping to remove without harming the countertops.

Should I replace the countertop when redoing backsplash?

Usually you can keep the existing countertop and just install new backsplash over it. But if the countertop is very worn or damaged, it may be a good time to replace it.

Can I DIY it or should I hire a contractor?

Handy homeowners can tackle a simple backsplash removal, but for large jobs it’s often best to hire a professional installer who can remove and replace the backsplash without damaging the countertops.


Removing an outdated or damaged backsplash can give your kitchen or bath a fresh new look. With proper precautions and the right techniques, it’s possible to remove tile, metal, glass, or other backsplash materials without harming the underlying countertops. Always work slowly and carefully. Having the right tools on hand also makes a big difference in getting up the backsplash intact. Follow these tips and with some elbow grease, you can eliminate the existing backsplash and start prepping for an exciting new one – all while keeping your countertops safe and undamaged.