How to Repair Drywall After Removing Backsplash

Removing a backsplash can often lead to damage to the underlying drywall. Fixing this damage is important for both aesthetic and practical reasons. Repairing drywall after backsplash removal may seem daunting, but it can be accomplished with some simple tools, materials, and techniques.

Assessing the Damage

The first step is to thoroughly examine the area where the backsplash was removed. Look for:

  • Cracks or holes in the drywall’s paper surface
  • Damage, dents, or gouges in the gypsum core
  • Areas where the drywall is still attached to the backsplash adhesive

Also check the surrounding drywall for any collateral damage that may have occurred during backsplash removal.

Pay particular attention to areas around electrical outlets or plumbing fixtures. Removing backsplashes improperly can sometimes cause damage to the drywall behind or around these items.

What Tools Will You Need?

Before starting any drywall repairs, assemble the necessary tools:

  • Utility knife – for scoring and cutting drywall
  • Drywall saw – for cutting openings or holes
  • Taping knives – for applying joint compound
  • Sanding block and sandpaper – for smoothing repairs
  • Drywall screws and screwdriver – for reattaching loose drywall
  • Electric drill and drill bits – for screw holes
  • Dust mask – for protection from drywall dust
  • Safety goggles – for eye protection

You may also need a stepladder, depending on the height and location of the damaged drywall.

Purchase Patching and Finishing Materials

Typically the following materials are needed for drywall repairs:

  • Drywall pieces or drywall repair patches
  • Joint tape – for covering seams
  • Joint compound (also called mud) – for coating seams and patches
  • Drywall primer and paint – for refinishing repairs

The amount and type needed will depend on the extent of damage. Inspect closely to determine if entire sheets, custom cut pieces, or just simple patches will be required.

Remove any Remaining Backsplash Adhesive

Before patching damaged spots, you must ensure the underlying drywall is clean and free of old adhesive.

Check for any residual thinset mortar, mastic, double-sided tape, or other substances used to attach the backsplash. Use the following steps to eliminate any remaining adhesive:

  • Scrape off any chunks and loose material with a putty knife or chisel.
  • For thinset mortar, carefully scrape and chip away with a hammer and chisel. Go slowly to avoid damaging the drywall.
  • Use a utility knife to score through any remaining mastic or sticky tape residue.
  • After scoring, spray warm water mixed with dish soap and scrub with a stiff bristle brush. The soap allows the water to saturate the adhesive.
  • Wipe the surface clean using clean water and rags. Scrub with an abrasive pad for stubborn deposits.
  • Sand any remaining adhesive nubs or uneven texture using 100-150 grit sandpaper.

Repeat this process until all remnants of the backsplash adhesive are gone and the drywall is smooth, clean, and ready for patching.

Prepare the Damaged Drywall Surface

Now that the backsplash adhesive is removed, you can start preparing the drywall itself for repairs:

1. Cut or Tear Out Any Loose Paper or Damaged Areas

Use a utility knife to carefully cut or score damaged or detached drywall paper. Remove any separated paper or unrepairable drywall.

If the gypsum core is gouged, cratered, or uneven, tear out the damaged section. Make square-cut openings with clean edges.

2. Vacuum the Repair Area Thoroughly

Use a crevice tool and brush attachment to remove gypsum dust, shards, and debris from the repair area. Vacuum surrounding surfaces too.

3. Wipe Down with a Damp Cloth

Wipe the damaged drywall area with a damp cloth to eliminate dust. This helps patches and joint compound adhere properly. Allow to fully dry before patching.

Cut Patch Pieces to Fit Damaged Areas

Once the surface is prepped, you can cut replacement pieces of drywall:

  • For holes or small areas, use precut drywall repair patches. Press into place to mark sizing.
  • For larger areas, measure and mark piece size needed. Cut replacement pieces to fit using a drywall saw.
  • Cut patch edges square and straight for proper adhesion and smoothing.
  • Double check fit before attaching patch pieces. They should fit snugly without gaps or overlaps.

Use 1/2″ drywall for patch thickness matching surrounding areas. Cut pieces slightly larger to allow for joint compound buildup when finishing.

Secure Patches and Replacement Pieces

Next, secure any replacement drywall pieces using drywall screws. Take care not to overdrive screw heads as this can damage the paper surface. The steps include:

  • Pre-drill holes if needed to prevent tearing drywall paper.
  • Position patches over openings and secure with drywall screws, 8-12 inches apart along seams.
  • On tears or seams with detached paper, reattach the paper using drywall screws.
  • Drive screws down just below surface without punching through paper.
  • For small patches, you can also use construction adhesive instead of screws.

Patch edges should fit snugly. Do not overlap seams. Any gaps between patches will need to be covered with joint tape.

Apply Joint Tape Over All Seams and Joints

Once patches are secure, cover all seams between pieces with joint tape:

  • Use fiberglass mesh tape for most drywall repairs. It embeds easily into joint compound.
  • For large repairs, paper joint tape is more durable and prevention cracking.
  • Cut tapes to length using utility knife. They should cover seams with 1-2 inches excess on each side.
  • Embed tape into a thin layer of joint compound using a taping knife.
  • Smooth the joint compound over the tape, filling any gaps or edges.
  • Use finesse to avoid ripping or distorting the tape. Let compound dry completely.

The joint tape provides strength and stability as it bonds patches together when the joint compound dries.

Apply Joint Compound Over Patches and Tape

With patches secured and seams taped, you can start building up layers of joint compound to blend repairs:

  • Apply a thin coat of compound over all patches using a drywall knife. Feather out edges.
  • Let the first coat dry fully, then sand lightly to smooth.
  • Apply a second coat, extending it slightly beyond the first coat.
  • Build up thin layers over several applications vs. one thick coat.
  • Sand between coats for best smoothing.

Take care not to gouge the paper when sanding. Wipe away dust between applications.

Skim Coat Entire Repair Area

For the final application, skim coat the entire sanded repair area:

  • Spread a thin final layer to cover patches, seams, and surrounding drywall.
  • Feather out edges so they blend seamlessly into wall surface.
  • Use a 14-16” knife for the final skim coat to properly feather edges.
  • Let dry fully, then sand entire surface to smooth.

The skim coat helps hide imperfections and blend the patchwork into the wall surface.

Prime Repaired Areas and Finish Painting

Once joint compound is completely dry:

  • Lightly sand any remaining ridges or imperfections.
  • Remove dust and wipe repair area with damp cloth.
  • Apply drywall primer allowing complete drying.
  • Finish paint repair areas using roller and brush. Feather out edges.
  • Apply a second finish coat of paint if needed to match surrounding color.

Be sure to use adequate ventilation when sanding and painting.

Tips for Professional looking Repairs

Follow these tips and techniques for repairs that blend in seamlessly:

  • Take time to prep surfaces thoroughly – this leads to better adhesion.
  • Apply multiple thin coats of joint compound vs. one thick one.
  • Use wider drywall knives for smoother, flatter applications.
  • Let joint compound dry fully between coats.
  • Be meticulous when sanding between coats.
  • Carefully feather out edges of patches and skim coat.
  • Use high quality drywall primer that seals surface.
  • Apply finish paint generously to fully cover repairs.

With careful surface preparation, patience, and some practice, even major drywall damage can be repaired to look seamless.

Common Problems and Solutions

It is not uncommon for some issues to arise when repairing drywall. Here are some common problems DIYers encounter and how to solve them:

Problem: Joint compound cracking at seams after drying.

Solution: Mesh tape not fully embedded. Carefully remove tape and reapply with adequate compound underneath. Ensure joints are thoroughly filled underneath tape.

Problem: Patches detaching or lifting.

Solution: Not enough securing screws or adhesive. Ensure replacement pieces are fully secured at edges with screw 8-12 inches apart.

Problem: Joint compound drying too quickly.

Solution: Mix in a few drops of water to improve workability. Do not over-thin the consistency too much.

Problem: Sanded repairs showing unevenness between coats.

Solution: Allow adequate drying time between applications. Sand thoroughly to smooth between coats.

Problem: Skim coat not blending patch edges smoothly.

Solution: Use a large knife (14-16″) to feather out edges and flatten surface. Sand any edges prior to skim coat.

Problem: Paint not fully covering repaired area.

Solution: Ensure joint compound is fully dry before priming and painting. Apply adequate coats of high quality primer and paint to fully seal and cover repairs.

When to Call a Drywall Professional

While many drywall repairs from backsplash removal can be DIYed, there are certain scenarios where a professional will be needed:

  • Drywall damage extends across long walls or ceiling areas.
  • Electrical or plumbing systems were damaged and need repair.
  • Significant water damage has occurred behind walls.
  • Severe structural damage requires rebuilding framing.
  • Specialized skills are needed for smooth finishes or textured walls.

Don’t hesitate to call a qualified drywall pro if repairs are overwhelming or overly complicated. They have the tools, materials, and expertise to properly fix even major drywall damage.


Removing a backsplash often requires repairing the underlying drywall. With some patching materials, joint compound, proper tools, and techniques, you can achieve seamless, professional looking results. Careful surface prep, proper screwing or gluing of patches, smooth applications of joint compound, thorough sanding, and generous finish painting are the keys to success. While challenging at times, repairing drywall damage from backsplash removal is very doable as a DIY project. Just take it slow, follow proper procedures, and don’t hesitate to call a drywall contractor if some areas require an expert touch. With patience and practice, those backsplash removal patches will blend right into your wall or ceiling.

FAQs About Repairing Drywall After Removing Backsplash

Removing a backsplash often damages the underlying drywall. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about making proper repairs.

Q: What type of drywall patch should I use?

A: For small holes, cracks or damage, pre-cut drywall repair patches with tapered edges are the easiest to use. For large areas, use same thickness replacement pieces cut to size. 1/2″ regular drywall boards are typical.

Q: Should mesh or paper joint tape be used?

A: Fiberglass mesh tape is recommended for most drywall repairs. It easily embeds into joint compound. For large patches, paper tape is stronger and prevents cracks.

Q: How long should joint compound dry between coats?

A: Drying times vary based on temperature and humidity. Typical drying between coats is 24 hours. Test surface dryness between applications to be sure.

Q: What grit sandpaper should be used when sanding repairs?

A: Start with 100-150 grit to smooth joint compound coats. Use a finer 180-220 grit for final sanding before priming and painting.

Q: How many coats of joint compound are needed?

A: Apply 2-3 thin coats over patches to hide seams. Then do a final skim coat over entire area to blend before priming.

Q: Should drywall primer be tinted to match paint?

A: Tinting primer to match finish paint helps it fully seal repairs. untinted white primers may require extra paint coats.

Q: Is there an easy way to match surrounding wall texture?

A: Capturing texture requires specialty tools. Easiest solution is to skim coat smooth and repaint walls corner to corner.

Q: What causes blisters or bubbles to form in joint compound?

A: Overworking the compound by overmixing, overthinning, or overspreading can cause bubbling. Apply gently in thin coats.

Q: How long should I wait to paint repaired drywall?

A: Allow joint compound to dry fully, typically 24-48 hours. Then apply primer and paint. Rushing the process can ruin paint adhesion.

Repairing drywall well requires focus, patience, and proper materials and techniques. Follow these tips and your backsplash removal patches will blend in beautifully.


Removing a backsplash brings along with it the headache of repairing the underlying drywall. But with this guide, you now have the key steps, tools, materials, and solutions to fix drywall properly after taking out a backsplash.

The process starts with fully removing any adhesive remnants so patches adhere correctly. Careful surface preparation is crucial. Measure and cut replacement pieces of drywall to fit any holes or damaged areas precisely. Secure them with screws or construction adhesive. Cover seams between patches with joint tape embedded into compound.

Building up layers of joint compound and meticulous sanding between coats helps hide seams and imperfections for a smooth finish. A final skim coat over the entire area feathers out edges for a seamless appearance.

Use high quality drywall primer before painting for a durable seal on repairs. With good preparation, high quality materials, patience, and some skill, even major drywall repairs can be finished to look flawless.