How to Remove Peel and Stick Backsplash from Drywall

Removing peel and stick backsplash tiles from drywall can be a tricky process, but with some patience and the right techniques, it can be done without too much hassle. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to remove peel and stick backsplash from drywall.

What You’ll Need

  • Putty knife or paint scraper
  • Heat gun or hair dryer
  • Razor blade
  • Mineral spirits or adhesive remover
  • Sandpaper
  • Spackle
  • Joint compound
  • Paint

Preparing the Workspace

Before starting the removal process, make sure to prep the workspace properly. Clear the area around the backsplash and cover any surfaces you don’t want to get messy with plastic sheets or drop cloths. Have a step stool or ladder ready if needed to reach the higher parts of the backsplash. Turn off power to any outlets near the backsplash as a safety precaution.

Heating the Adhesive

Peel and stick backsplash tiles are held in place by a strong adhesive. Heating up the adhesive with a heat gun or hair dryer makes it easier to remove the tiles cleanly. Set the heat gun to a low or medium setting and evenly heat up the tiles and adhesive for 30-60 seconds at a time. The adhesive should soften but not burn. Take care not to scorch or damage the drywall underneath.

Lifting the Tiles

Once the adhesive is warm and pliable, you can start removing the tiles. Insert the putty knife or paint scraper between the tile and wall and gently lift up the bottom edge. Work slowly and carefully to avoid tearing off chunks of drywall or damaging the wall. Continue heating and lifting until the entire tile releases. For stubborn areas, use a razor blade to detach the tile from the adhesive.

Scraping Off the Adhesive

After removing the tiles, residual adhesive will be left on the drywall. Scrape off as much of the gummy adhesive as possible using the putty knife or razor blade. Heat it up again with the heat gun if needed. Any small bits of leftover adhesive can be smoothed over with joint compound later.

Cleaning the Wall

There will likely still be a hazy film or residue left on the drywall even after scraping off the bulk of the adhesive. Use mineral spirits applied to a rag to wipe down the wall and get rid of any remaining sticker residue. Allow the mineral spirits to sit for a few minutes before wiping for the best results. Allow the wall to fully dry before moving on.

Sanding and Smoothing

For the best results, you’ll want the wall to be as smooth as possible before applying new backsplash or paint. Lightly sand the area with fine grit sandpaper to remove any glue residue or roughness. Be careful not to dig into the paper of the drywall. Fill any gouges, holes, or uneven areas with spackle or joint compound and let dry completely. Sand again if needed for a smooth surface.

Priming and Painting

Once your removal is complete and the wall is prepped, you can prime and paint the surface. Use drywall primer suited for kitchens and bathrooms. Apply two coats of your desired paint color to give the wall a fresh new look. Let the paint fully dry before doing anything else to the wall.

Applying New Backsplash

If you plan on installing a new backsplash, you may need to prep the wall a bit more by hanging new drywall or cement board. Make sure the surface is perfectly smooth and ready for the new tile. Carefully follow the backsplash manufacturer’s instructions for application.

And that’s it! With some perseverance and the right tools and techniques, it is possible to remove those outdated or damaged peel and stick backsplash tiles without taking down the drywall. Just go slow and careful, use heat and scraping tools to detach the tiles and adhesive, clean the wall thoroughly, sand and finish, prime and paint. Soon you’ll have a revitalized backsplash wall space ready for an upgrade.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to remove peel and stick backsplash?

It usually takes 2-4 hours to remove peel and stick backsplash from a standard sized kitchen. The time will vary depending on the size of the backsplash, how stubborn the adhesive is, and how meticulous you are in scraping/cleaning the wall.

What is the easiest way to remove the adhesive?

Heating the adhesive with a heat gun or hair dryer makes it much easier to peel off cleanly. Scraping when heated softens the glue residue for less effort. Chemical adhesive removers also work to dissolve the sticky residue.

What should I use to scrape off old caulk or adhesive?

A putty knife, paint scraper, or razor blade work best to scrape off old caulk, mortar, or adhesive on the drywall. Avoid using sharp tools that could damage the wall surface.

Can I put new backsplash right over the old adhesive?

It’s not recommended. The new tiles won’t adhere properly over sticky residue or an uneven surface. Removing the adhesive and smoothing the wall gives the best results.

What’s the best way to prep the wall for new backsplash?

Sanding, filling with joint compound, priming, and painting will prep the wall for new backsplash. Some cases may need new drywall or cement board installed to achieve a flawless surface.


Removing outdated or damaged peel and stick backsplash ultimately takes some hard work and elbow grease. But with the proper tools and techniques like heating the adhesive, gently lifting the tiles, thoroughly cleaning the wall, and proper sanding and prep work, you can breathe new life into your kitchen or bathroom backsplash area. The end result will be a wall surface that’s ready for a stunning new backsplash design.