Determine if the Backsplash is Integral or Just Adhered
The first step is to determine if the backsplash was installed as an integral part of the countertop or if it was adhered on later.
- An integral backsplash was installed at the same time as the countertop. It is made from the same slab of granite and polished to match. Integral backsplashes can be more difficult to remove.
- An adhered backsplash is installed after the countertop is in place. It is attached to the wall with adhesive. Adhered backsplashes are easier to remove.
Examine the seam between the backsplash and countertop. If it is a very tight seam, it is likely integral. If there is caulk or a visible glue line, it is adhered.
Prepare the Workspace
Before starting demolition, prepare the area:
- Clear everything off the countertop and surrounding area. Remove any items from the backsplash as well.
- Protect the floor, cabinets, and countertop with drop cloths. Backsplash removal can create a lot of debris.
- Have a vacuum ready to contain granite dust and shards. Wear safety goggles and a mask to protect yourself.
Removing an Integral Granite Backsplash
If the backsplash is integral, take extra care with removal:
- Score along the top edge of the backsplash with a circular saw outfitted with a diamond blade. Make several shallow passes to get a clean cut.
- Use a hammer and chisel to carefully break off the backsplash from the countertop below. Continue scoring the granite if needed. Work slowly.
- Once removed, use the chisel or a grinder to smooth down the countertop edge. Vacuum up debris.
- Sand and polish the cut countertop edge to achieve a finished look using increasingly finer grit sandpaper.
Removing an Adhered Granite Backsplash
For an adhered backsplash, follow these steps:
- Use a utility knife to score along the top caulk line between the backsplash and wall. This breaks the caulk seal.
- Insert a putty knife behind the backsplash and gently pry and separate it from the wall. Apply pressure slowly.
- Once freed, pull the backsplash gently straight off the wall. Warming the adhesive with a hair dryer first can help release.
- Use a plastic scraper to remove any stubborn adhesive left on the wall. Avoid damaging the drywall.
- Clean the wall surface so it is ready for a fresh backsplash or paint.
Dispose and Recycle the Backsplash
Once removed, dispose of the backsplash properly:
- Take granite pieces outdoors and break them down into smaller chunks using a sledgehammer over a board or cinder blocks. Wear eye protection.
- Look for granite recyclers in your area that will take construction debris. Many accept broken down granite for reuse or landscaping purposes.
- You can also check with stone yards or granite suppliers to see if they will accept remnants for recycling.
- Do not put intact granite pieces or large shards in the trash. They can damage garbage trucks. Break down thoroughly first.
Install a New Backsplash
With the original granite backsplash removed, you now have options:
- Install a new granite backsplash that matches or complements your existing countertop. Hire a professional fabricator for best results.
- Tile your own backsplash with ceramic, glass, or stone tile and matching grout. Use mastic adhesive and proper trowel technique.
- Consider other backsplash materials like stainless steel, tin, or faux panels. Measure carefully.
- Or simply paint the wall above the backsplash line to match your cabinets. Use proper primer and prep first.
With some patience and hard work, you can successfully remove an outdated or damaged granite backsplash. Just take care to work slowly and safely. The results will bring your kitchen a fresh new look!
FAQ About Removing Granite Backsplashes
What tools do I need to remove a granite backsplash?
You’ll need a circular saw with a diamond blade, hammer, chisel, putty knives, utility knife, plastic scraper, grinder, sandpaper, safety goggles, gloves, and masks. Have a vacuum ready too.
Can I remove just part of my backsplash?
It’s best to remove the entire backsplash for a uniform look. But for a small section, score it and chisel away, then sand and polish the edges.
What if my granite cracks during removal?
Work slowly and score properly to avoid cracks. If a piece cracks, use epoxy in the seam for an adhered backsplash. For an integral piece, hire a pro to repair and polish the countertop edge.
Is it cheaper to remove or replace the backsplash?
For an integral piece, removal can take hours and replacement may be cheaper. For adhered, DIY removal is straightforward and more affordable than replacing the whole counter.
Can I put new granite on top of my existing backsplash?
It’s not recommended to adhere new granite over an old backsplash. Remove the old piece completely first for proper installation of the new backsplash.
How do I cut a notch in my backsplash for an outlet?
Use a diamond blade on a circular saw or angle grinder to score outlines, then use a hammer and chisel to tap out the cutout notch gradually. Take care not to crack the granite.
Removing a granite backsplash expands your design options and allows you to give your kitchen a fresh new look. With the proper tools and safety precautions, both integral and adhered granite backsplashes can be removed successfully as a DIY project. Just work slowly and methodically to get the best results. Be sure to recycle or dispose of the granite properly too. Once your outdated backsplash is gone, you can install an exciting new backsplash and change up your kitchen’s style.