How to Remove Metal Trim from Backsplash

Removing metal trim from a backsplash can seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools and techniques, it can be done successfully. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to remove metal trim from backsplash in your home.


Metal trim is commonly used on backsplashes in kitchens and bathrooms to add a decorative accent. The trim is usually made from aluminum, stainless steel, or other metal alloys. While beautiful, metal trim can also be difficult to keep clean. Grease splatters and hard water stains can accumulate on the trim over time.

When it’s time to update your backsplash, you may decide you want to remove the metal trim entirely. This project takes some patience and elbow grease, but it can be accomplished with common household tools. Here we will walk through the step-by-step process for safe and effective metal trim removal.

Gather the Proper Tools and Materials

Removing metal trim requires having the right tools for the job. Here are the recommended tools and materials you’ll need:

  • Safety glasses – protect your eyes from debris
  • Work gloves – protect your hands while prying off trim
  • Pry bar – use to carefully pry trim off of surfaces
  • Putty knife – helps loosen trim edges
  • Screwdriver – removes any screws holding trim in place
  • Hammer – optional for tapping trim pieces loose
  • Painter’s tape – masks off edges to protect surfaces
  • Drop cloths – protect floors and countertops from debris
  • Garbage bag – collects and contains removed trim pieces
  • Mineral spirits – cleans adhesive residue off surface
  • Sandpaper – smoothes uneven spots on surface post-removal
  • Spackle/filler -patch holes and dents left from trim removal

Gather all these supplies beforehand so you have what you need ready to go for this project. Safety is paramount when dealing with metal trim, so be sure to take precautions.

Protect Surfaces and Remove Accessories

Before starting demo work, you’ll want to mask off any surfaces that shouldn’t get damaged in the removal process. Use painter’s tape to cover countertops, floors, cabinets and any other areas that need protection.

Remove any accessories on the backsplash, like soap dispensers, shelves or towel bars. Taking these off allows you to access all the trim areas unimpeded. Set accessories aside very carefully to reinstall later.

Lay down drop cloths as an extra defensive layer to catch fallen debris and tools. Sweep the backsplash area to clear off any dust or loose particles. Now the space is prepped and ready for trim removal.

Check for Screws and Other Fasteners

Metal trim can be adhered in a few different ways. Many times the pieces are held on with adhesive alone. But sometimes constructors use screws to provide additional support.

Examine the trim thoroughly and look for any screws, nails or other mechanical fasteners. Use a screwdriver to remove any screws or nails you find.

For trim attached with adhesive only, move on to the prying process next. Taking out any fasteners first makes prying off the glued trim go faster.

Pry Off the Trim Pieces Carefully

With safety gear on, take your pry bar and begin working it under the trim edges. Apply slow, even pressure and work your way around each piece, separating it from the surface.

Persistent yet gentle prying action is key here. You want the trim to release but not bend or warp in the process.

If needed, use a putty knife to help get in under trim edges and break the adhesive bonds. A hammer can also tap pieces loose but use this method sparingly to avoid damage.

As you free sections of trim, carefully pull them off by hand, supporting the piece so it doesn’t fall. Place removed trim pieces into a garbage bag for disposal.

Take your time with this process and don’t rush prying off the metal pieces. Remaining patient prevents putting dents in the backsplash surface.

Clean Adhesive Residue Thoroughly

With the metal trim removed, you’ll likely have adhesive residue left on the backsplash surface. This needs to be cleaned off thoroughly before applying any new backsplash materials.

Mineral spirits work well to break down the sticky residue. Pour a small amount onto a clean cloth and rub over the areas with buildup. The mineral spirits will dissolve the adhesive.

You can also use a plastic putty knife to gently scrape any thick clumps of residue. Take care not to gouge or scratch the backsplash surface.

Work in sections and re-apply the mineral spirits as needed until all traces of adhesive are gone. Wipe the backsplash down with clean water afterward. Let the surface dry completely before sanding or applying new materials.

Sand Away Imperfections

With the metal trim stripped away, you may notice some uneven spots or inconsistencies on the underlying backsplash surface.

Use a fine-grit sandpaper to smooth and even out these areas. Lightly sand just enough to remove any protrusions or irregular texture.

Be very careful not to overly sand or scrape the surface. Over-sanding can damage the wall surface making it harder to apply new backsplash materials smoothly.

Wipe away all sanding dust when finished. The backsplash should now have a uniform appearance and feel, ready for any resurfacing.

Fill Any Holes or Gaps

Removing metal trim commonly leaves a few holes, chips or gaps in the backsplash surface. These need to be filled and leveled out for proper resurfacing.

For small holes, a spackling paste works well to patch and fill areas. Apply a thin layer using a putty knife, let dry and then sand smooth.

For larger gaps or chipped out areas, use a patch joint compound. Patching strips or mesh tape can also help span bigger damaged spots.

Take time filling and smoothing all defects for optimal results. Let all patching materials dry per manufacturer’s guidelines before sanding or moving on to resurfacing.

Prepare the Surface for New Materials

Once you’ve removed all traces of metal trim and repaired any subsequent damage, the backsplash needs proper prep work before applying new materials.

Lightly sand the entire surface with fine 220-grit sandpaper. This roughens up the area for better adhesion with tiles, panels or paint.

Vacuum and wipe down the backsplash to remove all dust particles. This prevents finish flaws from debris getting trapped.

Certain surfaces like glossy tile may require etching or deglossing before installing a new backsplash. Use an etching product formulated for the existing tile material.

Finally, apply painter’s tape around the outer edges of the backsplash area. This helps keep new materials contained to the target zone.

Now the backsplash surface is cleaned, repaired and prepped for trouble-free installation of a beautiful new backsplash design.

Safety Tips for Removing Metal Trim

Working with metal trim has inherent risks that need proper safety measures. Here are important tips for staying safe:

  • Wear eye protection at all times – metal shards and debris can fly.
  • Use thick work gloves to protect hands from sharp edges.
  • Work slowly and carefully when prying – don’t bend or warp trim.
  • Contain removed pieces immediately to prevent slips or falls.
  • Dispose of removed trim properly – don’t leave pieces lying around.
  • Clear workspace before sanding and wear a dust mask.
  • Follow all label instructions if using chemicals for adhesive removal.
  • Prevent skin contact with mineral spirits or solvents.

Exercising caution helps avoid personal injuries and property damage. Take your time and put safety first throughout the metal trim removal process.

Common Questions About Removing Metal Trim

If you’re tackling metal trim removal for the first time, chances are you have some questions about the process. Here are answers to some often-asked queries:

How long does it take to remove metal backsplash trim?

Plan on allowing at least 2-3 hours for a full backsplash metal trim removal project. Working carefully around multiple pieces slows down the process. Actual time will vary based on how much trim area is involved.

What tools work best to pry off metal trim?

A pry bar is the go-to tool for safe metal trim removal. Start there and use a putty knife as needed for prying trim edges loose. Avoid flathead screwdrivers as these can easily mar surfaces.

Should I expect to damage the wall surface when removing trim?

With slow, careful prying and prep, damage can be minimized. Some minor wall repairs may be needed but this is easily patched. Avoid hitting or scraping too forcefully when prying.

What’s the easiest way to scrape off old adhesive?

Mineral spirits make fast work of adhesive residue cleanup. Gently agitate with a plastic putty knife to help dissolve thick buildup. Avoid abrasive scouring pads or wire brushes.

How do I prep the wall surface for a new backsplash after removing metal trim?

Sanding, cleaning, filling holes, and proper priming ensure good adhesion for new backsplash materials. Consult a tile professional for guidance on your specific wall surface.

Is it better to remove metal backsplash trim or install right over it?

For best results, full removal is recommended. New materials won’t bond well over metal trim, plus moisture can become trapped causing eventual failure.

Professional Help Options

If removing metal trim feels beyond your skill level, consider hiring a professional. Backsplash contractors are experienced with safe trim removal and proper wall prep work for new installations.

Here are tips for hiring out your metal trim removal project:

  • Get referrals from renovating friends or neighbors.
  • Check reviews and ratings for local contractors online.
  • Ask to see examples of previous backsplash projects.
  • Get a detailed quote outlining the full scope of work.
  • Verify the contractor is properly licensed and insured.
  • Schedule the work at least 2-3 weeks out to ensure availability.

Though pricier than DIY, professional removal can give peace of mind against damages. Weigh the pros and cons for your particular situation.


Removing metal trim from a backsplash takes some work, but the results are worth it. A smooth, clean surface allows for seamless installation of a new, updated backsplash design.

Now that you know what to expect, you can decide the best route – DIY or professional help. Use the techniques outlined here or call in an experienced contractor.

Either way, exercise patience and care throughout the metal removal process. Protect yourself and surfaces at all times. Before you know it, that dated metal trim will be gone and you’ll have the backsplash of your dreams.

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