How to Remove Ceramic Tile from Kitchen Backsplash

Removing ceramic tile from your kitchen backsplash can seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools and techniques, it can be accomplished successfully. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to remove ceramic tile from your kitchen backsplash.

Gather the Necessary Materials

Before starting the tile removal process, make sure you have gathered all the necessary materials:

  • Safety goggles and masks – to protect your eyes and respiratory system from debris
  • Gloves – to protect your hands from sharp edges and debris
  • Hammer – to break tile pieces and knock off grout
  • Cold chisel – to pry tiles off the wall
  • Putty knife or paint scraper – to scrape off old thinset and grout
  • Plastic sheets – to contain debris and protect surfaces
  • Garbage bags – to dispose of tile pieces and debris

Prepare the Workspace

To make the process easier, you will want to prep the workspace:

  • Clear countertops and appliances around the backsplash area. Remove anything breakable.
  • Cover nearby surfaces like countertops with plastic sheets to prevent damage.
  • Have a broom, dustpan, buckets, and vacuum ready to clean up debris.
  • Turn off electricity running to outlets near the backsplash.

Score the Grout Lines

Before removing tiles, you’ll need to score along the grout lines using a utility knife or grout saw. This will make prying off each tile much easier.

Take care not to cut too deeply into the drywall behind the tile. Go over all grout lines methodically.

Chip Away Grout with a Grout Saw or Oscillating Tool

Next, use a grout saw or oscillating multi-tool to chip out the grout surrounding each tile. Remove grout from the sides and bottom edges of each tile.

Work in sections, taking out grout from several tiles at once before prying them off. This minimizes damage to the drywall behind.

Pry Off the Tiles

Once grout around tiles is removed, carefully pry tiles off the wall using a putty knife or pry bar. Work from the bottom up and apply force slowly to prevent tearing the drywall.

If a tile won’t release, double check that all grout is removed from its edges and continue chipping away grout or scoring along grout lines as needed.

Remove Old Thinset and Scrape the Walls

With all tiles removed, inspect the walls for any remaining thinset (tile adhesive). Use a chisel, putty knife or oscillating multi-tool to scrape off all residue until the drywall is exposed.

Thinset must be fully removed to allow new tile to adhere properly. Avoid gouging too deeply into drywall. Smooth any rough spots on the walls with sandpaper.

Clean Up Debris

Once the backsplash area is cleared of tile and adhesive, thoroughly clean the space. Sweep up all debris and vacuum dust using a shop vac.

Dispose of tile pieces and adhesive residue appropriately. Wipe down the walls with a damp cloth to remove lingering dust before preparing to install new tile.

FAQs About Removing Ceramic Tile from Kitchen Backsplash

How do you remove stubborn tile that won’t come off?

For stubborn tiles that resist removal, use a mallet or hammer to gently tap a chisel or pry bar underneath, applying constant force. Check that all grout is removed first. penetrating behind the tile with a utility knife before prying can also help release the tile.

What tools do I need to remove kitchen backsplash?

The essential tools are safety gear, a hammer, cold chisel, utility knife, putty knife/paint scraper, grout saw, plastic sheets, and a vacuum. Optional time-savers are an oscillating multi-tool or pry bar.

What is the easiest way to remove tile backsplash?

Scoring all grout lines with a utility knife and then removing the grout before prying off tiles is easiest. Chip grout away with an oscillating multi-tool for fast grout removal. Pry tiles off carefully starting from the bottom and working up.

Can I put new tile over existing kitchen backsplash?

It’s not recommended to install new tile over existing tile. The layers will be uneven, and new grout and tile will not adhere well. Removing the old tile completely provides the best surface for a fresh backsplash.

What’s the best way to prep walls after removing old backsplash?

After taking down old tile, scrape off any remaining thinset, smooth rough spots in the drywall, wipe away all debris and dust, then fill any holes or cracks with spackle to create a level surface for new tile installation.


Removing old ceramic tiles from your kitchen backsplash takes some work, but is completely doable as a DIY project. The key steps are prepping your workspace, scoring grout lines, systematically removing all grout, prying off tiles carefully, scraping away adhesive, and thoroughly cleaning the area. With the right tools and techniques, you can successfully clear the way for a brand new backsplash in your kitchen.