How to Remove Tile from a Backsplash

Removing tile from a backsplash can seem like an intimidating task, but with the right tools and techniques, it can be accomplished successfully. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to remove tile from a backsplash in your home.

Gather the Necessary Materials

Before starting demo work, make sure you have the proper equipment on hand. Here are the recommended tools and materials:

  • Safety gear – gloves, eye protection, dust mask
  • Hammer
  • Chisel and putty knife
  • Tile pry bar
  • Scrub brush and cleaner
  • Drop cloths or tarps
  • Garbage bags
  • Spackling paste and putty knife for drywall repairs

Make sure to protect nearby surfaces from debris and damage during the tile removal process. Cover the countertops, floors, and appliances with drop cloths. Have trash bags on hand to quickly dispose of tile pieces and fragments.

Prepare the Workspace

To access the backsplash area, you will likely need to remove any items from the counters and walls. Take everything out of the cabinets below and beside the backsplash. Carefully detach any mounted accessories, shelves, or décor pieces from the backsplash before beginning demo.

Make sure there are no exposed nails, screws, or sharp edges on the drywall before starting. Hammer down or remove any protruding fasteners. A clean, flat surface will make prying off tiles easier.

Remove Any Grout Between Tiles

Use a sharp utility knife or grout removal tool to scrape out the grout between the backsplash tiles. Dig out and clear away as much grout as possible so the tiles are completely separate from each other.

This step prevents tiles from getting stuck together when prying and makes removal cleaner. Discard any loose grout pieces into a garbage bag as you work.

Pry Off Tiles

Once the grout is removed, it’s time to carefully pry the tiles off the wall. Start in a bottom corner and work upward in sections.

Position the flat end of the pry bar under the edge of a tile and gently lever it off. Apply even pressure to pop the tile free without damaging the drywall behind.

For stubborn tiles held on with mastic, use a chisel to carefully tap the tile loose. Take your time and be patient during this process.

Clean Away Any Remaining Adhesive

With all the tiles removed, inspect the drywall for any remaining thinset mortar, mastic, or adhesive. Use a stiff scrub brush and cleaning solution to scrub away the residue.

Clear off as much of the old adhesive as possible to prepare the surface for fresh tile installation. Allow the backsplash area to fully dry afterwards.

Make Any Necessary Drywall Repairs

Examine the drywall after removing the tiles. If there are holes, gouges, paper tears, or missing chunks, these will need patching prior to new backsplash installation.

Use drywall joint compound and a putty knife to fill any holes or imperfections. Allow repair patches to dry completely before sanding smooth.

Clean and Prepare the Area

With demolition completed, do a thorough cleanup of the entire workspace. Carefully sweep and wipe all dust, debris, and tile fragments from the backsplash area.

Remove drop cloths, reattach any hardware, handles or accessories, and return items to cabinets and counters. The backsplash is now prepped and ready for a fresh new tile application.

Proper tools, safety precautions, and patience are key when undertaking a tile removal project. Take time to do the job carefully to avoid causing unnecessary damage. With some diligent work, you can successfully strip tile from the backsplash and prepare the space for an exciting tile upgrade.

Frequently Asked Questions About Removing Tile from a Backsplash

How do you remove tiles that are stuck together?

For tiles stuck together, use a utility knife or chisel to carefully separate them. Gently pry apart tiles and chip away old grout until they are completely free from each other before attempting to pop them off.

What tools do I need to remove backsplash tile?

Recommended tools are a putty knife, chisel, pry bar, hammer, scrub brush, grout saw, safety gear, drop cloths, and garbage bags. Avoid power tools which can easily damage the drywall.

What is the easiest way to remove backsplash tile?

The easiest method is to pry tiles off one by one using a pry bar after scraping out all the grout between tiles. Take your time and be patient to avoid excessive drywall damage.

How do you remove backsplash glue?

Use a stiff-bristled scrub brush and cleaning solution to scrub off any remaining backsplash glue or adhesive residue after removing the tiles. Adhesive remover spray can also help dissolve stubborn old mastic.

Can I put new tile over existing backsplash?

It’s not recommended to install new tile over an existing backsplash. Old tile should be fully removed to clear away adhesive, level the surface, and prevent moisture issues behind the tiles.

What should I consider when removing a backsplash?

Consider if there is anything that needs removed from counters or walls first. Have drop cloths ready to protect surfaces. Be aware of electrical outlets in the backsplash area. Go slowly and carefully when prying to avoid excessive damage.


Removing tile backsplash brings the satisfaction of preparing for an exciting new backsplash project. With some common tools, safety awareness, and step-by-step demolition, you can successfully tackle a backsplash tile removal project as a DIYer. Carefully pry off tiles, clean the area thoroughly, make any repairs, and you’ll have a blank slate for your new dream backsplash design.