Removing a laminate backsplash without damaging the countertop below can seem daunting, but with the right tools and techniques, it is very doable. As experts in home renovation, we’ve helped many homeowners successfully tackle this project and refresh their kitchens with a new backsplash that better fits their style. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to remove a laminate backsplash while keeping your countertops intact.
Gather the Proper Tools
Having the right tools for the job will make removing the laminate backsplash much easier and reduce the likelihood of damaging the countertops. Here are the tools you’ll need:
- Pry bar – A stiff, sturdy pry bar is essential for separating the backsplash from the countertop without gouging the laminate surface. Look for one with a flattened end that can fit into tight crevices.
- Putty knife – For scraping off any laminate adhesive remnants left on the countertop.
- Plastic putty knife – Better for scraping the countertop surface because it’s less likely to scratch.
- Hammer – For tapping the pry bar to help dislodge the backsplash. Use light, controlled taps to avoid denting the countertop.
- Paint scraper – Helps scrape off adhesive debris.
- Rag – For wiping away adhesive residue.
- Goo Gone or adhesive remover – Removes stubborn sticky spots and laminate adhesive after scraping.
- Eye protection – Safety glasses to prevent debris from getting in your eyes.
Gather all these tools before starting to make the process safer and more efficient.
Prepare the Workspace
Clear the countertops below the backsplash area so you have room to work. Remove everything from the countertops, including small appliances, kitchen tools, and decor items.
Cover the countertops with a drop cloth or towels below the backsplash area to protect the laminate surface from damage during removal. Tape down the edges with painter’s tape.
Have a step stool handy if needed to reach any upper areas of the backsplash. Make sure the stool is stable and safe to stand on.
Sweep the countertops and backsplash to remove any dirt or debris that could scratch the surfaces when scraping off adhesive.
Start Removing at the Top
Always begin separating the laminate backsplash from the top and work downward. This helps avoid accidentally gouging the countertop as you pry sections off the wall.
- Place the pry bar into the crevice between the top of the backsplash and the wall. Gently tap it with a hammer to get it inserted.
- Once inserted, twist the pry bar slightly to detach the top edge of the laminate from the wall.
- Slowly work the pry bar downwards little by little while applying pressure away from the wall. This takes patience and control.
- As you dislodge sections, use your putty knife to scrape off any adhesive residue left on the wall before moving lower.
- Keep prying small sections while working down the entire backsplash. Take care not to bend the laminate too aggressively or it may crack.
- Be prepared for some stubborn sections. This is where using controlled hammer taps combined with steady prying pressure helps break the adhesive grip.
Remove Adhesive From the Countertop
With the backsplash fully pried off, you can now focus on the countertop surface. Scrape off all residual adhesive using your plastic putty knife. This helps avoid scratches.
- Work in small sections applying firm but gentle scraping pressure where needed to remove the adhesive.
- Wipe the scraped areas with a rag and Goo Gone or adhesive remover to eliminate any sticky residue.
- Avoid using harsh chemicals and be wary of abrasive scrubbing, which could damage the laminate countertop.
- Take your time with this step until all traces of adhesive are gone. The countertop needs to be completely clean for new backsplash installation.
Sand Down Any Gouges or Grooves
Check the countertop surface closely for any dents, gouges, or grooves that may have occurred during backsplash removal. These need to be smoothed down to prevent uneven installation of the new backsplash.
For minor marks, use 120 to 220 grit sandpaper and gentle sanding motions to blend the area level again. Sand only the defect, not the entire countertop.
For deeper gouges, you may need to use wood filler before sanding. Apply it smoothly with a putty knife, let dry completely, then sand.
Wipe away all sanding dust with a dry cloth once done. Now the countertop is ready for the new backsplash!
- Make sure to wear eye protection and work gloves for safety when doing demolition.
- Take breaks as needed to avoid rushing and making mistakes that damage the countertop.
- Proper tools really do make all the difference in easily removing the backsplash. Invest in quality bars and putty knives.
- Worried about messing up your countertops’ laminate surface? Consider hiring an experienced contractor to remove the backsplash for you.
With the right techniques and care, removing a laminate backsplash doesn’t have to leave your countertops damaged. Patience and the proper tools will allow you to refresh your kitchen with a stunning new backsplash design.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the easiest way to remove laminate backsplash?
The easiest method is to start prying from the top down using a stiff pry bar. Apply gentle pressure and work in small sections to slowly detach the backsplash from the wall and countertop. Patience and the right pry bar are key to preventing damage.
Will I have to replace my countertops after removing backsplash?
In most cases no, you do not need new countertops after removing a laminate backsplash, as long as you take care not to damage the surface during removal. Properly scrape off all old adhesive and sand down any defects.
Can I use a hairdryer or heat gun to remove backsplash?
No, heat can warp, melt, and discolor laminate countertops. Use them only for small sections of adhesive residue at low heat. Prying and scraping when done carefully works best.
What is the best scraper for laminate countertops?
A plastic putty knife is ideal since it is flexible and less likely to scratch or gouge the laminate surface than a metal scraper. Wood scrapers are also an option but can sometimes leave micro scratches.
How do I avoid chipping my countertops during backsplash removal?
Work slowly, start prying at the top, and use light but steady pressure. Avoid bending the backsplash too aggressively or gouging the countertop surface. Covering the countertop with a drop cloth also protects from chips and dents.
Removing laminate backsplash without damaging the underlying countertop is definitely achievable with the proper tools, techniques, and care. The key steps include using a stiff pry bar, working from the top down, scraping off adhesive, and sanding any defects smooth. While it requires diligence and patience, a freshly revamped backsplash can give your kitchen a whole new look without the cost of new countertops. With the tips provided above, you can take on this project yourself and protect those countertops. Just be sure to prep the workspace, always pry gently, and clean up all adhesive before installing a stunning new backsplash.