How to Remove Tile Backsplash from Sheetrock

Removing tile backsplash from sheetrock can seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools and techniques, it can be done efficiently. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to remove tile backsplash from sheetrock.

Safety Precautions

  • Wear safety goggles, mask, and gloves to protect yourself from dust and debris.
  • Work in a well-ventilated area to minimize dust inhalation.
  • Use a pry bar carefully as tile can shatter. Watch out for sharp edges.

What You’ll Need

  • Hammer
  • Putty knife
  • Pry bar
  • Gloves
  • Safety goggles
  • Dust mask
  • Vacuum

Step-by-Step Process

Prepare the Workspace

  • Clear the area around the backsplash and cover nearby surfaces with drop cloths. This protects floors and counters from damage.
  • Have a vacuum ready to clean up debris as you work.

Pry Off Whole Tiles

  • Start by trying to remove whole tiles if possible. This prevents scattered shards.
  • Wedge the putty knife under the bottom edge of a tile.
  • Slowly twist the putty knife to loosen the tile. Apply pressure carefully.
  • Once loosened, use the pry bar as leverage to pop the tile off.
  • Continue prying off tiles working in sections across the backsplash.

Remove Mortar and Adhesive

  • Use the hammer and putty knife to chip away at remaining mortar or adhesive on the sheetrock.
  • Scrape in different directions to remove as much as possible.
  • Take care not to gouge into the sheetrock which can damage its integrity.

Clean Surface of Sheetrock

  • Once mortar is removed, scrub the exposed sheetrock with a wet sponge to clean residue.
  • Allow sheetrock to fully dry before priming or painting.
  • Vacuum up all dust and debris as you work.

Fill Holes and Imperfections

  • Fill any gouges, holes, or imperfections in the sheetrock with spackle compound.
  • Allow compound to dry completely and then sand smooth.

Prime and Paint

  • Once the surface is prepped, apply primer to the entire backsplash area.
  • Let dry fully before adding your new backsplash or simply painting over it.


What tools do I need to remove tile backsplash?

You’ll need a hammer, putty knife, pry bar, gloves, safety goggles, dust mask, vacuum, and optionally spackle and sandpaper. Start with basic hand tools and use care to protect yourself and minimize sheetrock damage.

What is the easiest way to remove backsplash tile?

Try prying off whole tiles first by wedging a putty knife underneath and slowly twisting. Use a pry bar as leverage to remove intact tiles before chiseling off remaining mortar. Take precautions as tile can shatter.

How do I remove thinset mortar from sheetrock?

Use a hammer and putty knife to chip away at dried thinset. Scrape in different directions to remove as much as possible without damaging the sheetrock underneath. Avoid gouging into the sheetrock surface.

Can I put new tile over existing backsplash?

It is not recommended to install new tile over an existing backsplash. The original tile should be fully removed to expose the sheetrock underneath before installing a new backsplash.

How do I prep sheetrock for new backsplash installation?

Once original tile is removed, clean the sheetrock surface fully. Fill any gouges with spackle compound and sand smooth. Prime the entire area before applying new backsplash tile or paint.


Removing existing tile backsplash can take some work, but is doable as a DIY project. The key steps are prying off tiles intact, scraping away all mortar, cleaning the sheetrock surface, repairing any damage, and priming before adding new backsplash. Work slowly and use proper tools and safety gear. With some perseverance, you can transform your outdated backsplash into a fresh new look.