Granite is a popular choice for kitchen backsplashes because of its durability, aesthetics, and ease of maintenance. However, there may come a time when you want to remove or replace your existing granite backsplash. Removing a granite backsplash is possible as a DIY project if done carefully.
The process involves removing the granite tiles or slabs from the wall, scraping off any remaining thinset mortar, and preparing the surface for a new backsplash. Proper tools, safety precautions, and patience are needed to avoid damaging the granite or the wall during removal.
Before You Begin
Before starting demolition, take some preparatory steps:
- Clear the countertops and surrounding area of any items that could get damaged. Remove items from cabinets near the backsplash.
- Cover nearby surfaces like countertops with drop cloths to protect from debris.
- Wear safety goggles, dust mask, gloves, and other protective gear when removing granite.
- Have a pry bar, putty knives, hammer, chisel set, shop vacuum, and trash bags available.
- Turn off electricity to any outlets that may get exposed during removal.
Removing Granite Tiles
If your backsplash was tiled, follow these steps:
- Use a utility knife to cut through any caulking between the granite tiles and the wall.
- Insert a pry bar under each tile and gently twist to pop it off the wall. Work slowly and patiently.
- Once detached, pull the tile away and scrape off any remaining thinset from the back using a putty knife.
- Vacuum the wall surface thoroughly to remove all debris and old mortar.
- Inspect the drywall for any damage and repair as needed before installing the new backsplash.
Removing Granite Slabs
For a full granite slab backsplash:
- Use a reciprocating saw with a diamond blade to cut the caulking bead between the granite and wall.
- Drill holes into the granite near the edges – this gives you a place to start prying.
- Insert wood shims or a pry bar into the holes and gently pry outward while tapping on the slab with a hammer.
- Work slowly around the edges until the granite releases from the thinset.
- Use a chisel and hammer to remove any remaining thinset from the wall down to the drywall.
- Vacuum and repair the wall prior to installation of new backsplash.
- Wear eye protection – granite chips can fly as you pry.
- Use thick work gloves to protect your hands from sharp granite edges.
- Work slowly and carefully to avoid cracking the granite or damaging the wall.
- Support the weight of the slab and wear steel toe boots in case it drops.
- Use a mask or respirator when scraping, chiseling to avoid inhaling debris/dust.
Preparing for a New Backsplash
Once all granite is removed, inspect the wall and make any necessary repairs:
- Sand and primer exposed drywall to ready it for the new backsplash.
- Check for any leaks, damaged plumbing, or exposed outlets.
- Use joint compound to patch holes or cracks; sand smooth when dry.
- Paint with primer before applying your new backsplash tile, panels, or other materials.
With some patience and the proper tools, you can DIY the removal of a granite backsplash successfully. Just work carefully and clean up thoroughly afterwards. The wall will then be prepped and ready for your new backsplash design.
Frequently Asked Questions
What tools do I need to remove a granite backsplash?
You’ll need a pry bar, putty knives, hammer, chisel set, caulking cutter tool, reciprocating saw with diamond blade (for slabs), shop vacuum, safety gear like goggles, gloves, and mask.
How do I remove the thinset mortar after taking down the granite?
Scraping with a putty knife can remove leftover thinset after taking down the granite tiles or slab. You can also use a chisel and hammer for any really stubborn thinset residue.
How can I tell if my granite backsplash is made of tiles or a solid slab?
Look closely at the seams – individual tile pieces will have grout lines between them. A slab backsplash will not have grout lines and be a continuous surface.
What’s the easiest way to remove caulking from granite?
Use a sharp utility knife or caulking removal tool to slice through the caulk between the granite and wall. This allows you to pry off the granite cleanly.
Should I hire a contractor to remove and dispose of my granite backsplash?
If you don’t feel comfortable with the removal process, it’s always safest to hire a professional. They have the right tools and experience to remove and dispose of the granite properly.
Removing an existing granite backsplash takes time, care, and the proper tools. But with ample preparations and safety precautions, it can absolutely be DIYed. Just work slowly around the edges to pry it off, clean the wall down the studs, and repair any needed drywall damage. This will get your kitchen ready for a brand new backsplash design. Take all necessary safety measures and be patient for best results removing a granite backsplash.