How to Remove Travertine Tile Backsplash

Removing a travertine tile backsplash can seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools and techniques, it can be accomplished successfully. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to remove travertine tile backsplash in your home.

Why Remove Travertine Tile?

There are several reasons you may want to remove your existing travertine tile backsplash:

  • You want to remodel and install a new backsplash. Travertine can stain, crack, or become damaged over time. Replacing it allows you to update your kitchen’s look.
  • The current tile was improperly installed and is now detaching from the wall. This can happen if the wrong adhesives or inadequate prep work was done.
  • You need access to the plumbing or electrical systems behind the backsplash. Removing the tile provides full access.
  • You are selling your home and the outdated backsplash detracts from the home’s value. Many buyers want an updated kitchen.

No matter the reason, travertine tile can definitely be removed with some planning and effort.

Gather the Right Tools

Removing travertine tile backsplash requires having the proper tools on hand. You’ll need:

  • Safety gear – gloves, eye protection, knee pads
  • Flat pry bar
  • Hammer
  • Putty knife
  • Utility knife
  • Dust mask
  • Shop vacuum

You may also need a grinder or multi-tool with a diamond blade if the tiles are set in mortar. Having these tools ready will make the process much easier.

Preparing for Removal

Before starting demo, take some preparatory steps:

  • Clear the countertops and remove anything hanging on the walls. This includes curtains, utensil hooks, and anything else removable.
  • Cover nearby surfaces with drop cloths to protect from debris and dust. Cover appliances, countertops, and floors.
  • Turn off electricity and shut off water supply lines if removing near sinks or appliances.
  • Wear safety goggles, gloves, and a dust mask to protect yourself. Knee pads can also help when kneeling during removal.
  • Have a shop vacuum ready to frequently clean up any debris and dust.

Doing these steps first ensures the space is clear and safe to work in.

Removing the Tile

With the right tools and prep work done, you’re ready to start removing the tile:

Step 1 – Break the Grout Lines

Use a utility knife or oscillating tool to cut any existing grout lines surrounding each tile. This severs the bond and separates them from each other. Apply firm but controlled pressure as you cut.

Step 2 – Remove Border Tiles

Start removing tiles around the perimeter first. Use a pry bar inserted at the cut grout lines to gently pry the tile away from the wall. Work slowly and systematically around the edges.

Step 3 – Work in Sections

Once border tiles are removed, begin stripping tiles in sections working left to right. Keep prying tiles, cracking grout lines, and removing them in manageable sections.

Step 4 – Clear Debris

As sections are removed, use the shop vacuum to clear away tile pieces, grout, and dust. Clean work areas frequently for safety.

Step 5 – Remove Backing and Adhesive

With all tile removed, begin stripping away any backing material or adhesive left on the wall. Use a putty knife or multi-tool to carefully scrape away.

Step 6 – Clean the Wall Surface

With backing/adhesive removed, thoroughly clean the now exposed wall surface. Sweep and vacuum away the last debris and dust.

Step 7 – Dispose Debris

Collect all tile pieces, grout, backing and adhesive and place in heavy duty trash bags. Dispose according to local regulations.

Finishing Touches

Once the tile removal is complete:

  • Use painter’s tape and plastic sheeting to cover the exposed wall area during remodeling. This contains dust and debris until new backsplash is installed.
  • Plan for disposal fees if hauling debris away or renting a dumpster.
  • Repair any damage that may have occurred on the walls during removal. Fill holes, spackle, and sand.

With some perseverance and muscle, those outdated or damaged travertine tiles can be successfully removed in preparation for a gorgeous new backsplash.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to remove a travertine tile backsplash?

It typically takes 2-3 hours for an experienced DIYer to remove and dispose of an average sized travertine tile backsplash. The total time depends on the backsplash size, tile thickness, and prep/finish work needed.

What is the easiest way to remove travertine tile?

Cutting the grout lines and prying tiles off with a flat bar is the easiest DIY method. Using an oscillating multi-tool with a ceramic blade also works very well and can speed up removal.

Can I salvage the travertine tile?

Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to salvage full travertine tiles during removal. They easily crack and break. You can save larger pieces for mosaic projects or aggregate filler.

What kind of new backsplash should I install?

Popular options are ceramic or porcelain tile, marble, and granite slate. Glass, metal, or shiplap panels are also modern choices. Consult with kitchen designers to choose the best material for your home.

Should I hire a contractor to remove travertine tile backsplash?

If you lack experience with demo projects, it may be safer and faster to hire a professional. Some contractors may also handle disposing of debris for you. Get estimates first.


Removing a travertine backsplash in your kitchen or bath takes some work, but yields a smooth slate for creating the space of your dreams. With the proper tools and prep, you can tackle this project yourself and save on hiring a contractor. Just be sure to use safe practices during the removal process. In no time, you’ll have a gorgeous new backsplash ready for years of functionality and beauty.