How to Remove One Row of Backsplash Tile

Removing one row of backsplash tile 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 a single row of backsplash tile in your home.


There are a few common reasons you may need to remove a row of backsplash tile:

  • You want to replace it with new tile or a different backsplash material.
  • The grout has become stained or damaged.
  • You are renovating part of your kitchen and need to remove a section of the backsplash.
  • You simply want to change the look and remove only one row.

Removing just one row of backsplash tile is a bit more challenging than removing all the tile at once. But it can be done by carefully cutting out the individual tiles and then chiseling out the adhesive and grout.

The key is taking your time and using the proper tools so you don’t damage the surrounding tiles. With some patience and the right techniques, you can achieve a successful one-row backsplash removal.

Things You’ll Need

Before starting the project, make sure you have the following tools on hand:

  • Safety glasses and gloves
  • Hammer and chisel
  • Grout removal tool or oscillating multi-tool
  • Utility knife
  • Pry bar
  • Dust mask
  • Shop vacuum

You’ll also need replacements for the tile and adhesive you remove. Have the new materials on hand before beginning the removal process.

Step-by-Step Guide

Follow these key steps to successfully remove one row of backsplash tile:

1. Prepare the Workspace

Clear the area of any items that may get in the way during the removal process. Take out items from cabinets underneath the backsplash and cover countertops with drop cloths. This protects your surfaces from dust and debris.

You may also want to turn off power to any outlets covered by the backsplash tile.

2. Cut Out the Grout

Use a utility knife or oscillating multi-tool to cut out the grout around each individual tile you want to remove. Cut into the grout line on all sides of the tile and chip out the grout with a grout removal tool or screwdriver.

Be careful not to scratch or damage the surrounding tiles during this step. Remove all grout so the tiles are completely free.

3. Heat the Adhesive

Below the tile you’ve cut out, heat the adhesive using a heat gun or blow dryer. Heating softens the adhesive so the tiles can release more easily.

Heat the adhesive for about 20-30 seconds at a time, testing corners of tiles frequently to see if they lift. Don’t overheat.

4. Remove Whole Tiles

Once heated, start prying up the edges of the tiles with a pry bar, working the bar carefully under each tile. Try to remove each tile in one whole piece without breaking them.

You may need to reheat areas if the adhesive is still sticking. Remove all debris as you pry up the tiles.

5. Chisel Out Adhesive

After removing the intact tiles, use a hammer and chisel to chip away the remaining adhesive from the wall or countertop surface. Try to remove all of the adhesive so the area is smooth.

Be very careful not to damage the surface below during this step. Take your time and don’t rush. Smooth the surface thoroughly.

6. Clean the Area

Once all the tile and adhesive is removed, thoroughly clean the area. Use a shop vacuum to remove all debris and dust.

You may also need a putty knife or other tool to scrape off any remaining adhesive residue. Wipe the area down fully so it’s prepped for new tile.

7. Install New Tile

Once cleaned, the space is ready for your new backsplash tile. Make sure to follow all manufacturer’s instructions for proper installation.

Let the adhesive cure fully before applying new grout between tiles. Seal the grout once dried.

Tips and Precautions

  • Work slowly and carefully when prying up tiles to avoid cracking them or damaging the surrounding tiles.
  • Wear safety goggles and a dust mask to protect yourself from debris.
  • Turn off power to any outlets you may be working around to avoid getting shocked.
  • Don’t use power tools like rotary hammers which may crack tiles. Hand tools give you more control.
  • Buy extra replacement tiles in case any get damaged during removal.
  • Keep the work area contained so dust and debris don’t spread to other areas.
  • Dispose of old tile safely by wrapping in plastic and putting in garbage.

Removing one row of backsplash tile is very doable with proper tools, preparation, and techniques. Just work slowly, use care when prying, and make sure to clean thoroughly. Follow these tips for the most successful single-row removal process.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to remove one row of backsplash tile?

It typically takes 2-4 hours to fully remove and prepare one row of backsplash tile for replacement. Working slowly and carefully is more important than speed.

What tools do I need to remove backsplash tile?

The essential tools are a hammer and chisel, grout removal tool, pry bar, heat gun/blow dryer, utility knife, dust mask, gloves, and safety glasses. Have a vacuum ready too.

Should I remove all grout first before prying off tiles?

Yes, it’s important to cut out and remove all the grout surrounding the tiles before attempting to pry them off. Grout removal allows the tiles to come free easier.

What’s the easiest way to get the adhesive off the wall?

Heating the adhesive first softens it up, allowing it to scrape off easier. Use a heat gun or blow dryer before scraping with a chisel or putty knife. Go slowly.

Can I put new tile directly over existing backsplash?

It’s not recommended. Old adhesive prevents the new tile from properly adhering. The old tile and adhesive need to be removed first for a successful new installation.


Removing one row of backsplash tile is manageable with the proper prep work, tools, and careful technique. Always work slowly and take precautions when handling materials. Follow each step closely, from grout removal to adhesive heating and scraping. With patience and care, you can achieve a clean removal ready for your new backsplash row.