Removing a granite backsplash from a granite countertop can seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools and techniques, it can be done successfully without damaging the countertop. Granite is an extremely hard and durable material, so removing the backsplash takes patience, care, and the proper methods.
Granite countertops with matching backsplashes create a beautiful, seamless look in kitchens and bathrooms. However, there may come a time when you decide to remove or replace the backsplash for an updated look. Removing the granite backsplash yourself can save on the costs of hiring a professional.
With meticulousness and care, DIY homeowners can separate the granite backsplash from the countertop without harming the counter. This article will provide tips on how to safely and effectively remove a granite backsplash glued to a granite countertop.
Reasons for Removing a Granite Backsplash
There are a few reasons homeowners may want to remove their existing granite backsplash:
- Updating the look – Granite backsplash styles come and go, just like with cabinets, floors, and paint colors. Removing the backsplash creates an opportunity to install a new style.
- Damaged backsplash – Cracks, chips, or stains can make a granite backsplash an eyesore. Removing and replacing it can give the kitchen or bath a fresh new look.
- Changing countertop material – Homeowners may opt to replace their granite countertop but cannot remove the countertop without first detaching the backsplash.
- Preparing surface for new backsplash – Sometimes it’s preferable to remove the old backsplash completely to install a new type of backsplash like ceramic tile or glass tile.
No matter the reason, granite backsplashes can be removed from countertops with careful DIY methods. The key is taking your time and using proper tools and techniques to avoid damaging the counter.
What You’ll Need
Removing a granite backsplash requires patience and the right tools. Gather the following items before getting started:
- Safety gear – Safety glasses, dust mask, ear protection
- Pry bar – A long sturdy pry bar is essential.
- Hammer – For tapping the pry bar.
- Painter’s tape – For protecting the countertop edges.
- Acetone or denatured alcohol – For cleaning residual adhesive.
- Scraper – Single edge safety scraper.
- Putty knife – For scraping adhesive remnants.
- Microfiber cloths
- Plastic putty knife – Flexible for scraping curved sections.
- Mineral spirits – For cleaning off remaining debris.
- Dustpan and brush – For cleaning up debris.
You may not need every single item for every granite backsplash removal job. Evaluate the specifics of your backsplash installation and gather what you think you’ll need.
How to Remove a Granite Backsplash
With the right supplies gathered, you’re ready to tackle removing the granite backsplash. Follow these key steps:
1. Clear Countertops and Protect Edges
First, completely clear off countertops and clean the surface around the backsplash area. Remove everything from the countertops, clearing a wide workspace.
Use painter’s tape to cover the countertop edges along the backsplash. This protects the counter edges from damage during backsplash removal. Press the tape down firmly to adhere it well to the granite.
2. Check for Screws or Adhesive
Examine the backsplash closely where it meets the countertop. Granite backsplashes may be secured in a couple different ways:
- Screws – Some installers attach backsplashes through pre-drilled holes using screws driven into the countertop edge. This makes removal much simpler.
- Adhesive – Most often, backsplashes are adhered using silicone caulk or construction adhesive. These create a much stronger bond and are trickier to detach.
3. Create Gap with Pry Bar
If adhesive was used, you’ll need to very carefully pry the backsplash off to break the seal. This takes extreme care and patience.
Position the pry bar about 1-2 inches up from the countertop-backsplash seam. Tap lightly with the hammer or mallet to insert the pry bar just a bit and create a slight gap.
Work slowly across the length of the backsplash, inserting the pry bar and tapping gently to break the adhesive bond little by little. Patience is key here. Rushing can crack the granite backsplash or chip the countertop.
4. Work Backsplash Loose
Once you’ve pried along the lower edge and created some gap, continue working the pry bar further up the backsplash.
Continue tapping gently and re-positioning the pry bar to slowly work the backsplash loose. Go slowly and reset the pry bar every inch or two.
Be extremely careful not to crack the granite or gouge into the countertop edge while prying. Granite is brittle and can crack if pried too forcefully.
5. Remove Backsplash from Wall
When the backsplash can move freely from the countertop, begin detaching it from the wall.
Slide the pry bar between the backsplash and wall, and tap gently to detach the top edge. Work slowly across the length of the backsplash.
There will likely be caulk or adhesive attaching it to the wall as well. Carefully pry and detach it completely.
6. Clean Away Adhesive
With the backsplash fully detached, inspect the countertop edges and wall. Use a plastic putty knife or scraper to gently remove any remaining caulk, mortar, or adhesive.
Then use a rag with acetone, denatured alcohol or mineral spirits to scrub away final sticky residue. Avoid using harsh chemicals directly on the granite.
7. Make Any Repairs
Examine the countertop edge closely. Use epoxy or superior super glue to repair any chips that may have occurred during removal.
Match granite dust from the backsplash into the glue while wet to disguise repaired chips.
Preparing for a New Backsplash
Once you’ve successfully removed the existing backsplash without harming the countertop, some preparation may be needed before installing the new backsplash:
- Thoroughly clean and dry the entire surface.
- Sand or scrape the wall area to remove old adhesive and create a smooth surface for the new backsplash.
- Apply painter’s tape along the countertop edge to protect it when installing the new backsplash.
- Consult your new backsplash materials and make any needed adjustments to ensure proper installation.
With the old backsplash detached and the countertop prepped, you can move forward in installing your beautiful new backsplash design. Taking your time with the careful removal process is the key to protecting your countertop.
Frequently Asked Questions About Removing Granite Backsplash
Removing a granite backsplash without damaging the countertop takes finesse. Here are answers to some common questions homeowners have about the process:
How long does it take to remove a granite backsplash?
Removing a backsplash can take 2-4 hours for a typical 10-foot length. Working slowly and carefully is critical, so don’t try to rush through it.
Can I pry off a granite backsplash with a hammer and chisel?
Never attempt to pry granite with a hammer and chisel, or even just a hammer. This can easily crack and shatter the brittle granite. Use a pry bar and light tapping.
What tools work best for removing caulk and adhesive?
For caulk, a plastic putty knife or scraper works well. For tougher adhesive, try denatured alcohol or acetone applied with rags. Avoid using razor blades.
How can I avoid damaging the countertop when removing the backsplash?
Work slowly, resetting the pry bar every 1-2 inches. Tape countertop edges before prying. Make gradual progress versus aggressive prying to avoid cracking.
What should I do if my countertop chips during backsplash removal?
Use super glue or epoxy to repair small chips. Disguise repairs by mixing granite dust into the adhesive before drying.
Can I reuse a granite backsplash after removing it?
It’s possible if it fully detaches intact. But reusing risks cracks or breakage. New backsplash materials often work better.
What adhesion should I use to install the new backsplash?
Always follow your new backsplash manufacturer’s recommendations for proper adhesion products and methods.
Is removing a granite backsplash something a DIYer can do or do I need to hire a pro?
With care and patience, a homeowner can tackle this job without professional help. But for maximum assurance against damage, hiring a pro is a good option.
Removing a granite backsplash without damaging the countertop is achievable with the proper techniques and tools. The most important things are working slowly, using a pry bar appropriately, taping countertop edges, and cleaning all adhesive away fully when finished.
Prepping the countertop edges and wall area well will enable successful installation of your exciting new backsplash. With diligence and care, you can detach your existing backsplash and gain a fresh new kitchen or bath look. Just take your time and don’t force anything to avoid harming your countertop and backsplash during the removal process.