Removing a granite backsplash can seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools and techniques, it can be done successfully without damaging the granite. Granite is an extremely hard and durable material, but it can crack or chip if not handled properly during removal. With some patience and care, you can detach and extract the granite backsplash in one piece and prepare the wall surface for a new backsplash installation.
A granite backsplash brings beauty and durability to a kitchen or bathroom. However, trends change, and you may eventually want to update your backsplash with a new look. Removing the original granite backsplash yourself can save thousands of dollars compared to hiring contractors. With the right approach, tools, and safety practices, a DIY backsplash removal is totally doable without damaging the granite.
This comprehensive guide will walk you through the entire process step-by-step, from preparing for removal, extracting intact granite pieces, cleaning the walls, and disposing of the debris safely. Follow along to learn professional techniques for a seamless granite backsplash removal without any breaks or cracks. With patience and care, you can successfully reclaim your space for a fresh new backsplash design.
Before You Start Removal
Before you begin tackling the backsplash removal process, take the time to complete these preparatory steps:
- Wear safety glasses, gloves, a dust mask and ear protection. Granite dust debris can irritate eyes and lungs, and hammering can be loud. Staying safe is the priority.
- Clear the area of any dishes, appliances, electronics or valuables that could get damaged by falling debris.
- Have a helper assist with removal, especially for large granite pieces. Granite is very heavy.
- Turn off electricity at the breaker. Deactivating outlets protects you from shocks.
- Cover nearby surfaces like countertops with rosin paper or plastic sheeting to contain dust and debris.
- Prepare your toolbox with the necessary granite removal tools: hammer, putty knife, pry bar, heat gun, painter’s tape, shop vac, plastic bags, flat pry bar, caulk removing tool, and lacquer thinner or acetone.
- Have a strategy planned for intact granite removal and safe debris disposal.
Thorough preparation and the right granite removal tools will ensure the process goes smoothly without damage.
Step-by-Step Granite Backsplash Removal
With safety gear on and your workspace prepped, it’s time to get started with the granite backsplash removal. Work methodically following these steps:
1. Score any caulking lines
The backsplash was likely installed using silicone caulk to adhere it to the wall. Use a utility knife or caulk removal tool to score through the caulk along the top edge and side seams of the backsplash. Scoring it will allow the granite to detach more cleanly.
2. Heat the granite
Using a heat gun, apply localized heat along the top caulking line of the backsplash. Heating the area to around 150°F will soften the caulk sealant and expand the granite just slightly to help release its hold on the wall. Applying heat strategically in targeted areas can assist with intact removal. Take care not to overheat.
3. Slowly pry away top edge
With a flat pry bar and hammer, gently work the tip of the bar into the top corner edge of the granite backsplash. Apply light pressure while tapping the pry bar to slowly pop away that section from the wall. Take it slowly to avoid cracking the granite. Remove any freed top pieces.
4. Keep heating and lifting gradually
Continue applying controlled heat along the caulk line and carefully pry up more sections from top to bottom using the pry bar. Work in small sections across the entire length of the top ledge. The goal is to detach the entire top portion from the wall interface. Remove detached granite pieces.
5. Heat and pry side edges
Once the top is loosened, use the heat gun and pry bar to gently free the side edges of the granite backsplash starting in a rear corner. This may require two people for larger pieces – one heating and one prying. Lift away any detached granite sections and continue heating and lifting at edges methodically. Work slowly and patiently.
6. Extract intact granite sheet
After diligently releasing the perimeter edges, the main granite backsplash sheet should be ready for removal. Carefully slide it vertically off the wall and lift out in one intact piece. For heavy granite, secure it underneath while lifting. Set it in a safe area before debris cleanup.
7. Scrape off old caulk
Examine the wall surfaces to locate any remaining caulk residue. Use a putty knife to gently scrape and remove the excess dried caulk. Be careful not to gouge into the wallboard. Wipe with lacquer thinner for final caulk removal if needed, then thoroughly clean the wall.
8. Clean and prep the walls
With the granite removed, tidy and prepare the wall space. Use a shop vac to collect all dust and debris carefully. Fill any gouges with spackle and sand smooth. Clean the area in preparation for your new backsplash installation.
9. Transport and store granite
Carry the intact granite pieces horizontally with adequate support and store in a safe area. Granite can often be repurposed, so consider saving it for other projects before disposal. Always use caution and assistance moving heavy granite.
Granite Backsplash Removal Tips and Tricks
Follow these professional tips for the most successful and damage-free granite backsplash removal process:
- Always wear thick gloves when handling sharp-edged granite pieces to avoid cuts.
- Score caulk lines multiple times to ensure clean separation when prying.
- Heat guns can quickly overheat if aimed in one place too long – keep it moving.
- Apply painter’s tape along the edges of the backsplash before heating to minimize wall damage as you pry.
- Use a pry bar with a flat, tapered tip to best wedge into backsplash edges.
- Position the pry bar strategically in the corner edges and gaps to lift away from the wall.
- Take your time and do not rush through any steps – patience prevents damage.
- Keep a piece of plywood underneath when carrying detached granite to transport safely.
- Have a helper assist with lifting out the main intact granite sheet for safety and ease.
- Always wear a dust mask, safety goggles and ear protection when breaking and scraping granite.
What to Avoid When Removing Granite Backsplash
Certain mistakes can lead to breaking the granite during removal. Be cautious to avoid these common errors:
- Do not attempt to strike, hammer or smash the granite into pieces – this can cause dangerous chips and cracks.
- Avoid using excessive concentrated heat in one area – carefully heat just until caulk softens.
- Do not hurry through the process or get impatient – granite can crack if pried or detached too rapidly.
- Do not pry from the middle surface of the granite. Only pry from corner edges and seams to protect the sheet integrity.
- Never use sharp tools like screwdrivers or awls to pry at caulk lines – scoring with a utility knife is safest.
- Do not use too narrow of a pry bar that can dig into and crack the granite surface. Opt for a wide flat bar.
- Do not try to detach too large of granite sections at once – work in smaller segments for controlled removal.
Rushing the process or using excessive brute force is asking for damage to occur. Focus on strategic heating, controlled wedging and gradual lifting.
How to Dispose of Granite Pieces After Removal
Once the backsplash has been detached fully intact, it’s time to handle the disposal process. Here are some environmentally friendly recommendations for granite disposal:
- Check with granite retailers or fabricators who may buy remnants for recycling or repurposing.
- List the granite pieces for free on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace for those who could reuse them.
- Break down into manageable sizes using a hammer and safely transport pieces to the local landfill if recycling is not an option.
- Avoid hazardous chemical stripping if attempting to reuse the granite for other home projects or artwork.
- Consider eco-friendly disposal rather than sending to landfills if severely cracked or broken. Granite dust can be used in compost or as a garden mulch amendment for example.
Disposing of intact granite sheets sustainably keeps this resource out of landfills and allows for potential reuse by others. Always use safe practices when handling and breaking down heavy granite materials.
FAQs About DIY Granite Backsplash Removal
How long does it take to remove a granite backsplash?
Removing a granite backsplash takes 2-4 hours on average depending on the backsplash size and installation method. Work slowly and carefully to avoid damage. Rush jobs can crack the slab.
Can I sell my leftover granite backsplash?
Yes, full granite backsplash sheets can be sold to recyclers or secondhand stores. Granite remnants are also sought after by hobbyists for projects. List them online for purchase.
Do I need special tools to detach the backsplash?
You’ll need basic tools like a hammer, putty knife, pry bar, heat gun, gloves and goggles. Special granite cutting tools are not required for safe removal.
How can I cut a granite backsplash?
Unless highly experienced, we recommend not attempting to cut the granite yourself since mistakes can shatter it. Score and heat to detach fully intact for safe transport and reuse instead.
Is it worth saving my granite backsplash?
Salvaging intact granite sheets after removal allows them to be repurposed in other projects. Granite’s durability and aesthetic make it a valuable material to save rather than landfill.
Can I remove the backsplash without damaging the drywall?
Take care when prying and scraping to not gouge into the drywall behind the backsplash. Use painter’s tape along the perimeter before prying to protect the walls.
What tools do I need to remove existing caulk?
Heat guns soften caulk for removal. You’ll also need putty knives and caulk removing tools to scrape residue. Lacquer thinner also helps dissolve old caulk.
How do I prepare the wall after removing the backsplash?
Clean off dust and debris, fill any gouges with spackle, sand smooth, then clean thoroughly. This readies the surface for your new backsplash installation.
How should I transport granite backsplash pieces?
Carry large granite pieces horizontally with assistance and sturdy support like a sheet of plywood underneath. Move cautiously to avoid cracking and personal injury.
Safety Tips When Removing Granite Backsplash
Granite backsplash removal comes with certain safety hazards to be aware of:
- Wear goggles, gloves, dust mask and ear protection at all times to prevent eye, skin, lung and hearing damage.
- Granite dust debris poses respiratory risks if inhaled, so wear an N95 mask and ventilate the area.
- Use extreme caution when handling granite pieces, which can be very heavy and fragile. Never carry alone.
- Heat guns can cause burns if touched directly. Allow cooling before handling.
- Turn off electricity at the breaker box before starting to prevent shocks.
- Watch for sharp cracked edges that could cut fingers or hands while carrying.
- Clear the workspace of valuables and electronics which could be damaged by debris.
- Work slowly and carefully. Get help lifting heavy full sheets to avoid muscle strains or falls.
- Dispose of granite dust and scraps fully before bringing any new backsplash materials into the same workspace.
- Check for overhead pipes or wiring before striking with a hammer or pry bar.
Staying safe should be the number one priority during any backsplash removal project. Use caution, take your time, and consider hiring a professional if the granite removal process seems too hazardous or challenging.
Removing a granite backsplash without cracks, breaks or damage is achievable with the right techniques. Carefully scoring caulk, heating targeted areas, slowly prying perimeter edges, and extracting the main intact sheet are the keys to success. Having someone assist with safe lifting of heavy granite is also advised. Completing an eco-friendly disposal allows for recycling possibilities.
With the proper tools, preparation, patience and safety practices outlined here, homeowners can take on a DIY granite backsplash removal successfully. Just work methodically, avoid rushing, and keep safety the top focus. In a matter of hours, you can have your walls cleared and ready for your stunning new backsplash design to be installed. Handle that beautiful granite carefully to salvage and reuse it sustainably.