How to Remove Bathroom Backsplash


Removing and replacing a bathroom backsplash can completely transform the look of your bathroom. However, it can also be a tricky project if you don’t know what you’re doing. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the entire process of removing your old bathroom backsplash step-by-step.

Whether your backsplash is dated, damaged, or you’re just ready for a change, this guide will teach you how to remove it safely and efficiently. We’ll cover all the tools you need, tips for troubleshooting tricky tiles, advice on proper disposal, and so much more. With the right information and preparation, you can tackle this project yourself and save the high cost of professional removal.

What You Need to Remove a Bathroom Backsplash

Before starting demo on your backsplash, make sure you have the proper tools and equipment. Attempting removal without the right gear can lead to broken tiles, damaged walls, and injury.

Here’s what you need on hand:

  • Safety goggles, mask, and gloves
  • Hammer
  • Chisel and putty knife
  • Pry bar
  • Dustpan and broom
  • Bucket or wheelbarrow
  • Tile cutting tools like an angle grinder or oscillating multi-tool (for stubborn tiles)

You’ll also need a dumpster or trailer to haul away debris unless you plan on doing small loads to the dump. For safety, be sure to turn off the water supply and electricity to the area you’re working on.

Preparing the Workspace

Once you have the right tools, take time to prepare the workspace:

  • Clear countertops and remove anything breakable or detachable from the backsplash area.
  • Place drop cloths or tarps on the floor and countertops.
  • Have a vacuum ready to control dust and debris.
  • Cover nearby surfaces like trim or appliances with plastic sheeting.
  • Place an empty bucket or wheelbarrow nearby to collect tile pieces.

Proper preparation will make demolition much smoother and prevent damage.

Removing Wall and Cabinet Tiles

With your workspace prepped, it’s time to start taking down tiles. Here are some tips:

  • Start by removing cabinet tiles first. Use a pry bar or putty knife to pop them off gently.
  • For wall tiles, strike the grout line between tiles with a hammer and chisel. This will break the tile bond.
  • Pry tiles off the wall with the hammer, or use a pry bar for leverage.
  • Check for trouble spots where grout or thinset is stubborn. Use an oscillating multi-tool or angle grinder to cut through.
  • Work in sections, removing tiles and scraping off old thinset as you go.
  • Be patient and careful prying. Rushing can lead to damaged drywall or tile shards flying.
  • Dispose of tiles and debris as you work to avoid clutter.

Take your time with this step. Removing backsplash tiles without wall damage takes precision.

Troubleshooting Tricky Tiles

Some backsplash tiles can be unwilling to release. Here are some tips if you encounter stubborn tiles:

  • For natural stone or ceramic tiles on a mortar bed, use a chisel to free the edge, then pry up with force.
  • Try heating glass or porcelain tiles with a heat gun to loosen old thinset.
  • Use an oscillating multi-tool to cut through stubborn grout lines.
  • For tiles stuck fast with construction adhesive, you may need to rent or buy a power scraper.

Getting stubborn tiles off without damage takes patience. Avoid hacking or pulling too hard.

Prepping the Area for New Backsplash

Once your old backsplash is removed, there are a few more steps before installing the new:

  • Clean the walls thoroughly with water and degreaser to remove thinset residue.
  • Make any needed drywall repairs with spackle. Sand until smooth when dried.
  • Prime and paint the walls if needed for an even finish.
  • Check for plumb and even surfaces. Use shims if the wall needs leveling.
  • Follow all manufacturer instructions for proper substrate preparations.

Taking time to prep ensures your new backsplash looks flawless.

Disposing of Backsplash Debris

Don’t forget about proper disposal for the old tile pieces, grout, and thinset. Here are smart tips for disposal:

  • Check if your tile material can be recycled. Porcelain and some natural stone may have recycling options in your area.
  • Rent a dumpster for large jobs. A contractors bag works for small DIY jobs.
  • Call your municipal district about construction debris collection days. Some communities offer special pick-up.
  • Avoid putting powdery thinset dust in your household trash. Bag it separately.
  • Take glass mosaic sheets or tile shards to a glass recycling facility.

Smart disposal keeps your project green and minimizes waste.

Hiring a Pro for Removal

If removing a backsplash seems too difficult, consider hiring a professional. Here’s how pros can help:

  • Experienced demolition experts will have specialty tools to remove tiles cleanly and efficiently. This reduces wall damage risk.
  • Professionals have practices in place for safe debris disposal.
  • Tile setters can recommend any changes needed to the substrate after old tile is removed.
  • Saving homeowners time and effort may be worth the price. Removal pros can demo a backsplash in less than a day.

For some homeowners, hiring a backsplash removal company is the best option.


Removing an old or outdated bathroom backsplash takes some work, but with the right process it can be a DIY project. Carefully removing tiles without damaging walls is key. Maximum safety is also essential when demolishing tile. Follow the techniques here to take out your old backsplash properly.

Be sure to prep the area well afterward so your new backsplash looks amazing. With patience and the proper tools, you can transform your bathroom with a backsplash removal and replacement project.