Removing a vinyl backsplash can seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools and techniques, it can be accomplished with minimal fuss. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to remove vinyl backsplash tiles from your kitchen or bathroom.
Assess the Vinyl Backsplash
The first step is to take a close look at the existing vinyl backsplash and determine how it was installed. Vinyl tiles are typically installed in one of two ways:
Peel and Stick Application
If the vinyl tiles were installed using a peel and stick adhesive, they can usually be removed fairly easily. Peel and stick tiles have a backing that allows them to stick to the wall without requiring mortar or adhesive.
Vinyl tiles that were installed using mortar or adhesive will be more difficult to remove. The mortar creates a very secure bond between the tile and wall that has to be broken.
Inspect the grout lines and tile edges to determine if a peel and stick or mortared application was used. Peel and stick tiles will have straight, clean edges and uniform grout lines. Mortared tiles will show signs of mortar in the grout lines and uneven tile edges.
Gather the Necessary Materials
Removing vinyl backsplash tiles requires having the right tools on hand. Here are the materials you’ll need:
- Putty knife or paint scraper
- Heat gun or hair dryer
- Razor blades
- Scraper attachment for drill
- Chemical stripper (for mortared tiles)
- Eye protection
- Drop cloths
For mortared vinyl tiles, you may also need a hammer and chisel for breaking up the mortar bed.
Make sure you have all required materials before starting the vinyl tile removal process.
Prepare the Workspace
To remove vinyl backsplash tiles, you’ll need ample working room. Clear the countertops and protect the surrounding surfaces:
- Remove everything from the countertops.
- Cover countertops with drop cloths.
- Tape plastic sheeting over cabinets.
- Cover the floors.
Proper preparation will make the clean-up process much easier.
Remove Peel and Stick Tiles
If the vinyl tiles were installed using a peel and stick method, follow these steps:
- Heat the tiles: Using a heat gun or hair dryer, apply heat to soften the adhesive. Move the heat gun continuously over the tiles.
- Lift a corner: Insert a putty knife between the tile and wall. Gently lift up one corner.
- Slowly peel away: Slowly peel the entire tile away from the wall. Apply heat as needed to soften the adhesive.
- Remove adhesive residue: Use a razor blade, paint scraper, or adhesive remover to eliminate any remaining adhesive.
- Clean the wall: Wash the wall with an all-purpose cleaner and water. Let it fully dry.
With this methodical process, peel and stick vinyl tiles can be removed cleanly and relatively painlessly.
Remove Mortared Tiles
For vinyl tiles installed using mortar, the process involves a bit more work:
- Soak tiles: Mix a solution of hot water and chemical stripper. Apply it generously to the tiles and let it soak in for 5-10 minutes. This will soften the mortar.
- Scrape grout lines: Use a specialty grout removal tool, manual scraper, or oscillating multi-tool to scrape out the grout between tiles. Removing the grout first makes prying off each tile much easier.
- Carefully pry tiles: Starting in a bottom corner, gently pry up the tile with a putty knife or chisel. Take care not to gouge the wall. Continue working away the entire tile.
- Chip away mortar: Use a hammer and chisel to carefully chip away any remaining mortar adhered to the wall. Avoid damaging the drywall or plaster behind it.
- Clean and prep: Once all tiles and mortar are removed, clean and sand the wall in preparation for the new backsplash.
Removing mortared vinyl tiles takes patience and care. Work slowly to avoid damaging the underlying wall.
How long does it take to remove vinyl backsplash?
For a standard 10-15 square foot kitchen backsplash, it typically takes 2-4 hours to remove vinyl tile and prepare the wall for a new backsplash. Working with mortared tiles or over a larger area will require more time.
What is the easiest way to remove vinyl backsplash?
Heating up peel and stick vinyl tiles with a blow dryer or heat gun is the easiest removal method. The heat softens the adhesive backing so the tiles can be easily pried off. Mortared tiles are much harder to take down and require breaking up the mortar bed.
Can I put new tile over existing vinyl backsplash?
It is not recommended to install new tile or backsplash over vinyl. The smooth surface of the vinyl prevents proper adhesion of mortar and can lead to failure of the new tiled surface. Existing vinyl should be removed prior to a new backsplash installation.
What chemical removes vinyl backsplash adhesive?
Adhesive remover, mineral spirits, or acetone are commonly used to break down adhesive residue after removing peel and stick vinyl tiles. Always check product instructions for proper ventilation requirements.
How do I prep my wall after removing vinyl backsplash?
Once vinyl tiles are removed, wash the wall, sand any roughness, fill holes with spackle, and prime the surface. This will create an optimal base for your new backsplash installation.
Removing vinyl backsplash tile may seem tedious, but going in with proper planning and tools makes the process manageable. Carefully assess your existing tile application method, gather the necessary materials, and protect your work surfaces. Whether your tiles are peel and stick or mortared, work slowly and methodically to remove them without damaging the underlying wall. With some perseverance and elbow grease, you can clear the way for a beautiful new backsplash.