How to Remove Peel and Stick Tile Backsplash

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

Gather the Necessary Materials

Before starting the removal process, ensure you have the following materials on hand:

  • Scraper – Use a utility knife or painters tool to help separate the tiles from the wall.
  • Heat gun – A heat gun helps soften the adhesive and makes the tiles easier to remove.
  • Chemical adhesive remover – Adhesive remover will help dissolve any leftover adhesive on the wall after tile removal.
  • Rags – Have plenty of clean cloths for wiping away adhesive residue.
  • Drop cloth – Protect surrounding surfaces from fallen tiles and debris.
  • Safety gear – Wear goggles, gloves, and a mask to protect yourself during the process.

Prepare the Workspace

Take some preparatory steps before tackling the tile removal:

  • Clear the area of any items or appliances that may get in the way.
  • Cover nearby surfaces with a drop cloth. This protects from errant tiles and falling adhesive.
  • Have a trash bag or box handy to discard the old tiles.
  • Wear goggles, gloves and a mask to prevent injury from falling tiles.

Proper preparation makes the removal process easier and safer.

Heat the Tiles

Heating is an essential first step in removing peel and stick tiles:

  • Set your heat gun to a low or medium setting. High heat can scorch the tiles and make removal harder.
  • Apply heat evenly across the surface of the tiles. Avoid holding the heat gun in one spot too long.
  • Heat softens the adhesive and causes the tiles to lift at the edges.
  • Work in small sections. Heat and lift a few tiles at a time before moving to a new area.

Heating tiles prior to removal allows you to pry them off much easier.

Lift the Tiles Off the Wall

Once heated, the tiles are ready for removal:

  • Carefully insert a utility knife or painters tool under one corner.
  • Slowly pry up that corner, then work around the edges of that tile.
  • Peel the tile away from the wall, using an even pressure.
  • Place removed tiles adhesive-side down in your trash receptacle.
  • Avoid ripping tiles off forcefully, as this can damage the drywall underneath.

Take your time and work around the edges of each tile, prying up gently. The heat has softened the adhesive which should allow the tiles to lift off easily.

Remove Adhesive Residue

Adhesive will inevitably remain on the wall after tile removal:

  • Use a plastic scraper to lightly scrape off any large blobs of leftover adhesive.
  • Apply a chemical adhesive remover to a rag and gently rub the wall. This helps dissolve sticky residue.
  • Never scrape too aggressively, as you can damage the wall surface.
  • Change rags frequently to prevent transferring adhesive back to the wall.
  • Use mineral spirits for final cleaning to remove any haze or residue.

Properly removing adhesive creates a clean surface ready for your new backsplash.

Clean and Prepare the Area

For a fresh start, finish by cleaning and prepping the space:

  • Wash the wall with an all-purpose cleaner and rinse thoroughly.
  • Lightly sand any rough areas to smooth them out.
  • Fill any gouges or holes with drywall spackle and sand smooth.
  • Carefully remove any debris with a vacuum and damp rag.
  • Allow the area to fully dry before applying your new backsplash.

Thorough cleaning and surface prep creates the ideal blank slate for your next backsplash project.

Frequently Asked Questions About Removing Peel and Stick Tile Backsplash

Removing peel and stick tile backsplash can seem challenging. Here are answers to some often asked questions:

What is the easiest way to remove peel and stick tiles?

Heating the tiles with a heat gun is the easiest method. The warmth softens the adhesive so tiles lift off easier. Slowly pry up warmed tiles starting at one corner.

What solvent removes peel and stick tile adhesive?

Chemical adhesive removers or mineral spirits work best to dissolve leftover adhesive residue. Gently rub the product into the adhesive, change rags frequently.

How do I avoid damaging the wall when removing backsplash tiles?

Work slowly and carefully. Heat tiles before prying up, and use a plastic scraper to lightly scrape off adhesive instead of heavy scraping.

What should I use to clean the wall after removing the tile backsplash?

Wash with an all-purpose cleaner, then rinse thoroughly. You can also lightly sand any rough areas and fill holes as needed.

How long should I let the wall dry before installing a new backsplash?

Allow at least 24 hours for the wall to fully dry before applying new tiles or backsplash. This prevents adhesion issues with any new materials.

Can I put new tile directly over an existing peel and stick backsplash?

It is not recommended. New tile will likely not adhere correctly over peel and stick products. Old tile should be removed for best results.

What tool works best to pry up the tile edges?

A painters tool or utility knife are both effective for getting under tile edges and prying up once heated and loosened. Work carefully around each tile.

Should I expect to have wall damage after removing peel and stick tiles?

If heated and pried off carefully, wall damage should be minimal. Some adhesive residue or minor superficial scratches are common but can be repaired.


Removing a peel and stick backsplash takes time and care, but is definitely doable as a DIY project. The key steps are heating the tiles to soften adhesive, slowly prying up tiles, removing leftover residue, and thoroughly cleaning the wall afterward. With the proper prep and tools, you can remove troublesome backsplash tiles and prepare the space for a beautiful new look.