How to Remove Peel and Stick Backsplash Tiles

Removing peel and stick backsplash tiles can seem daunting, but with the right tools and techniques, it can be done relatively easily. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to remove peel and stick backsplash tiles.

What are Peel and Stick Backsplash Tiles?

Peel and stick backsplash tiles, also known as self-adhesive backsplash tiles, are decorative tiles used to cover kitchen backsplashes or bathroom walls. They have an adhesive backing that allows them to stick directly to surfaces without grout or mortar.

Peel and stick tiles are easy to install, requiring no special skills or tools. Their adhesive backing makes them repositionable during installation. Many homeowners opt for peel and stick backsplash tiles as an affordable and approachable DIY project to upgrade kitchens or bathrooms.

Reasons for Removing Peel and Stick Backsplash Tiles

There are several reasons you may need to remove existing peel and stick backsplash tiles:

  • Redecorating: If redoing your kitchen or bathroom décor, you may want to remove old backsplash tile to replace it with new tile or another backsplash material.
  • Tile Damage: Backsplash tiles can become cracked, stained, or otherwise damaged over time. Replacing them is often easier than repairing individual damaged tiles.
  • Adhesive Issues: The adhesive may fail on some peel and stick tiles, causing them to fall off or slip over time. Removing all tiles allows you to start fresh with new adhesive.
  • Surface Preparation: Sometimes you need to remove backsplash tile to properly prepare the surface for new tile installation.

Tools and Materials Needed

Removing peel and stick tiles requires just a few common household tools and materials:

  • Putty knife or paint scraper: A putty knife with a flexible blade works best to get under tile edges.
  • Heat gun or hair dryer: The heat softens the adhesive to make tiles easier to scrape off.
  • Cleaner/degreaser: An all-purpose cleaner helps get rid of any adhesive or dirt left behind.
  • Rags, sponge, or paper towels: For wiping away adhesive residue and dirt.
  • Drop cloths: Protect nearby surfaces from fallen tiles or debris.
  • Safety gear: Work gloves, eye protection, and a dust mask are recommended.

Step-by-Step Process

Follow these steps to successfully remove old peel and stick backsplash tiles:

1. Prepare the Workspace

Clear the area of appliances, cookware, and other items. Cover nearby surfaces with drop cloths. Have a garbage bag ready to collect old tiles and debris. Wear gloves, eye protection, and a mask.

2. Heat the Tiles

Use a heat gun or blow dryer to warm up the tiles and adhesive. Apply heat until tiles are very warm to the touch. Heating will soften the adhesive and make tile removal much easier.

3. Scrape Off Tiles

Use the putty knife to gently pry up the edges of the heated tiles. Apply pressure at an angle to scrape the tiles off the wall. Remove tiles entirely and scrape off any remaining adhesive.

4. Clean the Wall Surface

With tiles removed, use a degreasing cleaner and water to scrub the wall and eliminate any remaining adhesive residue. Rinse thoroughly and let dry.

5. Remove Adhesive Backing

Any adhesive left on the back of the tiles should scrape off easily after heating. A putty knife can also help pry off any stubborn areas.

6. Clean Up and Dispose

Place all debris including tiles and adhesive scraps into trash bags. Vacuum up any remaining dust. Wipe down surfaces and tools when finished.

7. Prep Surface for New Tiles

Once the wall is cleaned and adhesive-free, you can prime and paint it before installing new backsplash tiles if desired.

Tips for Easier Removal

  • Go slowly and apply heat frequently to keep the adhesive soft.
  • Try to peel off tiles in bigger sheets rather than small pieces.
  • For heavy adhesive residue, let a degreaser soak for 5-10 minutes before scrubbing.
  • An oscillating multi-tool helps vibrate and scrape off stubborn tiles or adhesive bits.
  • Apply painter’s tape along the outer edges to catch falling debris.

Common Questions About Removing Peel and Stick Backsplash

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

It usually takes 2-4 hours to remove and clean up an average 10-15 sq. ft. backsplash area. Work time varies based on tile size, wall area, and adhesive strength.

What about the adhesive leftover on the wall?

Scraping and then using a degreasing cleaner is typically all that’s needed to eliminate leftover adhesive. For stubborn spots, adhesive remover sprays or gels also work.

Can I put new peel and stick tiles right over old ones?

It’s not recommended. New tiles adhere best over a cleaned, primed surface. Leftover adhesive can prevent proper bonding and cause tiles to fall off over time.

What about damage to the drywall underneath?

Removing tiles slowly and carefully prevents damage to drywall. Small holes or missing paint can easily be patched before installing the new backsplash.

Is it better to heat the tiles or just scrape them off cold?

Heating the tiles is highly recommended as it softens the adhesive, preventing you from needing to scrape as aggressively. Cold scraping can damage the wall.


Removing old peel and stick backsplash tile takes some work but is completely doable as a DIY project. The key steps are heating the tiles, scraping off with a putty knife, cleaning all residue, and properly prepping for new tile. Focus on working slowly, using heat, and protecting the wall to get the job done safely. With the outdated tiles gone, you’ll have a blank slate for creating a fresh new backsplash design.