How to Remove Stone Tile Backsplash

Removing a stone tile backsplash can seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools and techniques, it doesn’t have to be. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to safely and effectively remove a stone tile backsplash in your home.

Prepare the Workspace

Before starting demolition, you’ll want to properly prepare the area to minimize mess and damage. Here are some tips:

  • Clear the countertops and remove anything breakable from the backsplash area.
  • Cover nearby surfaces like countertops and floors with drop cloths or plastic sheeting to protect from debris.
  • Have a shop vacuum ready to frequently clean up any dust or shards.
  • Wear safety goggles and gloves to protect yourself during the removal process.

Remove Grout

Start by removing the grout between the stone tiles. This will help loosen the tiles and make prying easier.

Use a grout removal tool, rotary tool, or oscillating multi-tool to scrape out the grout. Take care not to scratch the tiles.

Vacuum up the grout dust and debris as you work. Having the grout removed will allow the tiles to come off much easier.

Pry the Tiles Off

With the grout gone, you can now work on prying the stone tiles off the wall. Use a pry bar and hammer to carefully pop each tile off.

Place a block of wood against the tile and tap the wood with the hammer. Take care not to strike the tile directly as stone can crack and shatter if hit.

Work methodically and exercise patience during this process. The tiles should pop off relatively easy, but some problem spots may need extra prying.

Remove Tile Adhesive

Once all the stone tiles have been pried off, you’ll be left with the adhesive backing on the wall. This needs to be scraped off to prepare the wall for new backsplash tile.

Use a wall scraper or putty knife to scrape off the remnants of the mastic. Try to get as much off as possible.

For any really stubborn spots, use a wire brush or sandpaper to remove the remaining adhesive residue.

Be sure to regularly vacuum up the debris during this process to keep the area clean.

Clean and Prep the Wall

With the backsplash totally removed, take time to properly clean and prep the wall for a fresh start.

  • Wash the wall with an all-purpose cleaner and rinse thoroughly.
  • Fill any gouges or holes in the drywall with spackle and let dry completely.
  • Sand any rough patches for a smooth surface.
  • Prime and paint the wall if needed.

Proper prep work will allow the new backsplash tile to adhere properly.

Dispose of Debris

Properly dispose of the stone tile pieces, grout, and adhesive by loading it into trash bins and hauling it away. The stone can often be recycled.

Sweep and mop the floor to remove any remaining dust and grit from the demolition.

Your kitchen is now ready for a beautiful new backsplash tile installation. Enjoy the fresh look!

FAQs About Removing Stone Tile Backsplash

What tools do I need to remove a stone tile backsplash?

You’ll need a grout removal tool, putty knives, a pry bar, hammer, gloves, goggles, vacuum, and drop cloths. Oscillating multi-tools and rotary tools also help.

How do I loosen stuck-on stone tiles?

Removing the grout first allows you to pry tiles easier. You can also use a hair dryer or heat gun to warm the adhesive which helps release the tiles. Go slow and use wood blocks to prevent cracking.

What’s the easiest way to remove old tile adhesive?

Scraping with a wall scraper or putty knife works for most adhesive. For really stubborn spots, use a wire brush, sandpaper, or grinder to remove residue. Chemical solvents can also help dissolve adhesives.

Can I just put new tiles over an existing stone backsplash?

It’s not recommended. The uneven surface of the old tile can prevent proper adhesion of new tiles. Removing the old backsplash allows you to start fresh.

What do I do with the backsplash debris?

Discard the tile pieces, grout, and adhesive appropriately. Much of it can go in the garbage. Some communities allow stone tiles to be recycled. Follow local regulations for disposal.


Removing an existing stone tile backsplash takes time and elbow grease. But with the proper tools and techniques, it can be accomplished safely by any motivated DIYer. Always wear protective equipment and work carefully.

The end result will be a clean wall ready for your new dream backsplash. Just be sure to properly prep the surface after demolition. With some patience and hard work, you can refresh your kitchen with beautiful new tile.