How to Remove Stick On Backsplash Tiles

Removing stick on 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 stick on backsplash tiles from your kitchen or bathroom walls.

What You Need

  • Putty knife or painters tool
  • Heat gun or hair dryer
  • Razor blades
  • Mineral spirits or adhesive remover
  • Rags
  • Bucket of warm water with dish soap
  • Grout brush or stiff nylon brush

Prep the Workspace

Before starting demo, prepare the space around your backsplash to make the job easier:

  • Clear countertops and remove items from walls. This gives you room to work.
  • Place drop cloths or tarps on the countertops and floor to catch any falling debris.
  • Have a trash can or bags ready to discard old tiles and adhesive.

Heat the Adhesive

Stick on backsplash tiles are held in place with adhesive. Heating the adhesive softens it, allowing tiles to release.

Use a heat gun or hair dryer to warm the tiles and adhesive. Move heat gun continuously in a circular motion 1-2 inches from tile surface.

  • Work in sections, heating a 2 square foot area for 30-60 seconds before removing tiles.
  • Take care not to scorch existing wall surface or tiles.

As adhesive warms, you’ll see it start to soften and become gummy.

Remove Tiles

Once adhesive is warm and pliable, begin removing tiles using the putty knife or painters tool.

  • Working in sections, slide putty knife under bottom edge of tile to lift it up.
  • Apply pressure to break the adhesive bond while wiggling tile off.
  • Move slowly and carefully to avoid breaking tiles or chipping the wall.

Stack removed intact tiles for potential reuse or disposal.

Scrape Off Adhesive

Adhesive residue will be left on the wall after removing tiles. This needs to be scraped off to prepare the surface for new backsplash.

Use a putty knife or razor blades to scrape off adhesive. Hold blade at 45 degree angle and work in sections.

  • Heat adhesive again with heat gun to soften and make scraping easier if needed.
  • Take care not to gouge or damage wall surface while scraping.

Discard the scraped adhesive residues as you work. The wall should be clean and smooth when done.

Clean Surface

Once adhesive is removed, wash the wall using warm water with dish soap and rags or sponges. This helps dissolve any remaining residue.

Use a grout brush or stiff nylon brush to scrub off any leftover residue or film. Rinse wall thoroughly with clean water and let dry completely before applying new backsplash.

Mineral spirits or adhesive remover can also be used to clean the area and remove stubborn adhesive residue. Follow product directions closely.

Smooth and Prep Wall

Before installing the new backsplash, fill any gouges or irregularities in the wall using drywall joint compound.

Sand any bumps smooth. This helps the new backsplash adhere properly and look its best.

Wipe away dust with tack cloth. Wall is now ready for new tile!

Tips for Easier Removal

  • Try scoring the adhesive by scraping with a razor before heating to make removing tiles easier.
  • For stubborn tiles, heat longer or use a more powerful heat gun.
  • Apply painter’s tape around edges of tiles to prevent wall damage when prying up.
  • Try carefully tapping tiles with a hammer and wood block to break adhesive bond.
  • Use mineral spirits sparingly to help dissolve stubborn adhesive residues.

With the proper methods, removing stick on backsplash tiles doesn’t need to be difficult. Just work slowly, use heat to soften adhesive, and be prepared for some elbow grease. The effort is worth it to get your wall ready for a fresh new backsplash.

Common Questions About Removing Stick On Backsplash Tiles

How long does it take to remove stick on backsplash tiles?

Removing stick on backsplash tiles can take 2 to 4 hours for a small space. Work time depends on tile size, wall area covered, and adhesive strength. Plan for it to take most of a day for larger projects.

Can I reuse stick on backsplash tiles?

You may be able to reuse intact stick on tiles. Test one by cleaning the back and seeing if new adhesive will bond. Due to potential damage, reuse is not recommended for important projects.

What is the easiest way to remove stick on backsplash tiles?

Heating tiles and adhesive with a heat gun, then prying tiles up carefully with a putty knife or painter’s tool is the easiest DIY method. Avoid just pulling tiles off, which can damage the wall.

What solvent removes backsplash tile adhesive?

Mineral spirits effectively dissolve stubborn backsplash tile adhesive residue. Adhesive remover products also available. Avoid harsh chemicals like paint thinner. Test solvent in an inconspicuous area first.

Should I remove the drywall before installing a new backsplash?

Removing drywall is not necessary. Just make sure adhesive residue is thoroughly removed so the new backsplash adheres properly. Fill any gouges and prep the wall surface.


Removing stick on backsplash tiles takes some work, but can be accomplished successfully with the right preparation and tools. Heating up the adhesive is a key step, allowing you to pry the tiles off easier and with less damage. Thoroughly cleaning off leftover adhesive then prepping the wall creates an ideal surface for your new backsplash installation. With some perseverance and patience, you can have that outdated stick on backsplash removed and ready for a fresh new look.