How to Remove Laminate Backsplash

Installing a laminate backsplash can upgrade the look of your kitchen or bathroom quickly and affordably. But tastes change, and you may decide to remove or replace your laminate backsplash down the road. Removing laminate backsplash paneling is a big project but can be accomplished with some patience and the right tools.

Steps to Remove Laminate Backsplash

Removing a laminate backsplash requires carefully prying up each panel. Follow these key steps:

Gather Materials and Tools

You’ll need safety gear like goggles and gloves to protect yourself while removing the backsplash. Gather the following tools:

  • Pry bar – A stiff, sturdy pry bar is essential for loosening the panels and adhesive. Look for one at least 18 inches long to get enough leverage.
  • Hammer – Use a claw hammer to tap the pry bar underneath panels to help loosen them.
  • Putty knife – Once panels are loosened, slide a putty knife underneath to cut adhesive strips.
  • Paint scraper – A rigid scraper can also help scrape off remaining adhesive.
  • Drop cloths – Protect nearby surfaces from dust and debris.
  • Ladder – If your backsplash extends high up, have a sturdy ladder available to reach the top.

Prepare the Workspace

Clear everything away from the backsplash area. Remove items from nearby countertops and place drop cloths over appliances, floors, and other surfaces for protection. Turn off electrical outlets covered by the backsplash to prevent shocks.

Start Prying at the Seams

Stand on the countertop or ladder to reach the top of the backsplash. Insert the pry bar into the seam between panels and gently pry upwards to loosen the panel. Be patient and careful not to bend the panels. Once you create a gap, use a hammer to tap the pry bar further underneath to break the adhesive’s grip.

Work Your Way Down

Once you remove the first panel, use the pry bar to detach each subsequent panel by inserting it into seams and lifting upwards. As you remove panels, use a putty knife to cut any remaining adhesive strips. Watch for electrical wires or outlets as you work downwards and shut off power when necessary.

Remove Adhesive Residue

Use a paint scraper to gently remove leftover foam adhesive strips or stubborn glue residue. Avoid gouging the wall surface. Mineral spirits or adhesive remover solution can also help remove remaining adhesive buildup.

Smooth and Clean the Walls

With all panels removed, thoroughly clean the backsplash walls. Fill any gouges or imperfections with spackle. Once dry, sand the walls smooth. Clean up all dust and debris. The area is now ready for your new backsplash!

Key Tips for Removing Laminate Backsplash Panels

Follow these tips for safe and successful laminate backsplash removal:

  • Remove panels slowly and gently to avoid cracking. Rush the job and you’ll be left patching holes or replacing whole panels.
  • Start prying and detaching panels at the top seam first. Gravity will help as you work your way down the wall.
  • Cut adhesive strips carefully with a putty knife instead of pulling panels off forcefully. This leaves a smoother surface.
  • Wear goggles and gloves so falling debris doesn’t injure you. Long sleeves also help protect your arms.
  • Label electrical wires before disconnecting outlets. This makes reconnecting them easier later.
  • Apply painter’s tape around the perimeter before prying off panels. This helps protect the surrounding walls.
  • Try heating glue residue with a hair dryer before scraping. Heat softens the adhesive for easier removal.
  • Avoid using sharp tools like chisels or knives which can damage walls. Stick to pry bars, putty knives and plastic scrapers.

Taking your time makes laminate backsplash removal much easier. With the right preparation and tools, you can tackle this project successfully.

Preparing for a New Backsplash

Once you remove the existing laminate backsplash, you’ll probably install a fresh new one. Here are some tips to prep for your new backsplash:

Choose the New Backsplash Design

With the laminate gone, you now have a blank slate to install any type of backsplash you desire. Whether you want granite, marble, ceramic tile or another material, select one that fits your kitchen’s style and needs. Bring home samples to compare colors and patterns before making a final decision.

Measure Carefully

Take detailed measurements of the backsplash area so you can purchase the right quantity of your new backsplash material. Include the precise measurements and shape of any outlets, windows or unique angles. Have 10-15% extra material handy in case you need to recut tiles or panels.

Order Supplies

Purchase your selected backsplash materials, adhesive, grout, tools for cutting and installing, and any trim or accessories needed to complete the job. Make sure to get all supplies before starting work.

Prep the Surface

To ensure the new backsplash adheres properly, the wall surface must be clean, smooth and free of residue. Sand and scrape walls to remove leftover adhesive or roughness. Wipe down with denatured alcohol to eliminate oils. Fill any divots with spackle for an even surface.

Allow Proper Drying Time

If you spackled or painted the walls, let them fully cure for 1-2 days before installing the new backsplash. This prevents adhesion problems down the road. Heed all manufacturer drying recommendations for paints, primers or wall levelers before applying your backsplash.

With the old laminate gone and these steps completed, your kitchen is ready for a backsplash makeover!

FAQs About Removing Laminate Backsplash

What tools do I need to remove a laminate backsplash?

The essential tools are a pry bar, hammer, putty knife, painters scraper, ladder, and safety goggles and gloves. Avoid using sharp tools that can gouge your walls.

How do I remove the adhesive from behind laminate backsplash panels?

Use a plastic putty knife or paint scraper to gently pry off any foam adhesive strips left behind after detaching panels. Adhesive remover solution or mineral spirits also helps eliminate stubborn glue residue.

What’s the easiest way to remove laminate backsplash?

Work slowly from the top down, prying panels at the seams and tapping with a hammer to break the adhesive seal. Cutting adhesive strips with a putty knife rather than ripping panels off prevents wall damage. Patience and the proper tools make the job much easier.

Can I pry the laminate backsplash off in one piece?

It’s not recommended to pry off the entire backsplash in one sheet. The panels are thin and you’ll likely crack them while trying to remove in one piece. Take it slow and detach one panel at a time.

How do I repair drywall after removing laminate backsplash?

Inspect the wall for gouges, holes or uneven areas after removing panels. Fill any imperfections with drywall joint compound or spackle. Once dry, sand smooth and clean walls completely before installing your new backsplash.

Should I remove nearby cabinets or countertops before taking down backsplash?

This is usually not necessary. Just remove any items from countertops and place drop cloths over cabinets and surfaces to protect them from dust and debris while removing panels.

How do I disconnect electrical outlets or switches on my laminate backsplash?

Carefully label wires before disconnecting outlets covered by the backsplash. Shut off the main home electrical supply if needed for safety. Reconnect outlets properly prior to installing new backsplash.

Removing your outdated laminate backsplash takes work, but freshens up your entire kitchen or bath. With safety, patience and the right approach, you can tackle this project on your own.

Removing Different Types of Backsplashes

While laminate panel removal techniques are covered above, you may need to remove other types of backsplash materials. Here’s a quick overview of removing some popular backsplash products:

Ceramic Tile Backsplash Removal

Ceramic tiles are adhered with mastic and grouted between seams. To remove:

  • Use a mallet and chisel to chip away grout between tiles. Wear safety goggles.
  • Cut any caulk between tile and countertop with a utility knife.
  • Insert a pry bar under each tile edge and carefully pry upwards to pop tiles off.
  • Use a putty knife to scrape away remaining tile mastic adhesive.

Vinyl Backsplash Removal

Vinyl sheets have a peel-and-stick backing for easy application. To remove:

  • Lift one corner and slowly peel entire sheet off. Go slow to minimize wall damage.
  • Use a plastic scraper to remove any adhesive residue left behind.
  • Fill and sand any gouges in drywall. Wipe with denatured alcohol.

Glass Tile Backsplash Removal

Glass mosaic tiles are installed similarly to ceramic. To remove:

  • Use a grout removal tool, putting careful pressure on grout lines.
  • Wear heavy gloves to protect hands and use eye protection.
  • Pry tiles up one by one using a spackling knife. Glass can shatter so work slowly.
  • Clean off remaining mastic adhesive thoroughly before applying new backsplash.

Stone Tile Backsplash Removal

Natural stone like granite, marble or slate is durable but labor-intensive to remove.

  • Cut any caulk between countertop and backsplash before starting.
  • Chip away at grout carefully with a special grout removal saw tool.
  • Pry each heavy tile up using a flat pry bar. Take care not to crack tiles.
  • Scrape away all leftover thinset mortar adhesive before installing replacement backsplash.

Hiring a Professional vs. DIY Removal

Eliminating an outdated laminate or tile backsplash yourself can save money over hiring a contractor. But for some homeowners, professional help is worth the cost.

Benefits of DIY Backsplash Removal:

  • Less expensive than hiring a company
  • Learn useful demolition skills for future projects
  • Remove backsplash on your own timeline

Benefits of Hiring a Pro:

  • Gets the job done faster with fewer headaches
  • No risk of personal injury from broken tiles or tools
  • Contractors dispose of old backsplash materials for you
  • Experts properly handle plumbing, electrical and wall repair

Removing a laminate backsplash takes 1-3 days for most DIYers. Complex tile removal may take professionals 1-2 days. Request an itemized estimate before hiring a contractor.

Assess your skills, schedule and project scope to decide if doing it yourself makes sense. Professionals can tackle tricky backsplash removal safely and efficiently.

Summary and Key Takeaways

Removing laminate backsplash paneling requires careful prying, cutting adhesive strips, and scraping residual glue. Follow these tips:

  • Use pry bars, putty knives and plastic scrapers to safely detach panels without damaging walls.
  • Start prying at the top seam and work downward, removing one panel at a time.
  • Label wires and shut off electrical outlets covered by the backsplash first.
  • Fill any wall holes or gouges with spackle once panels are removed.
  • Smooth sanded walls and wipe clean before installing replacement backsplash.
  • Removing tile backsplashes requires chipping away grout then prying tiles up individually.
  • Assess your skill level before deciding to DIY vs. hiring a professional.

With the right preparations and tools, you can successfully remove laminate backsplash in your kitchen or bath. Take it slow and make safety a priority throughout the demolition. Soon you’ll have a smooth, clean slate for your new backsplash creation!


This detailed guide covers the entire process of removing laminate backsplash paneling in your home. By following the outlined steps, using the proper tools, and working carefully, you can eliminate your outdated laminate backsplash to make way for a fresh new look. Key things to keep in mind are prying panels up slowly from the top down, cutting adhesive strips for a cleaner removal, prepping walls properly prior to installing your new backsplash, and calling in a contractor if the project is beyond your skill level. With some perseverance and patience, you can achieve a backsplash makeover on any budget.