How to Repair Drywall After Removing Tile Backsplash

Removing a tile backsplash can often damage the drywall behind it. However, with some time and effort, you can repair the drywall and get it ready for a new backsplash or paint. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to repair drywall after removing tile backsplash.

Assess the Damage

The first step is to remove any remaining grout and adhesive from the drywall. Examine the drywall carefully and identify any areas that are damaged beyond surface-level repairs. Damage may include:

  • Cracks or holes in the drywall
  • Water damage or mold
  • Rotting or deteriorating drywall

For minor damage like small holes and cracks, you can likely repair the drywall. However, for more extensive damage, you may need to cut out the damaged drywall and replace it with new drywall.

Prepare the Surface

Once you’ve assessed the damage, prep the surface for repairs. Here are a few tips:

  • Use a putty knife to scrape off any remaining grout or adhesive.
  • Sand the surface lightly to rough it up so the patching compound adheres better.
  • Wipe away any dust with a dry cloth.
  • Apply painter’s tape around the edges of the area you’ll be repairing to create clean lines.

The drywall surface needs to be clean and roughed up a bit for the best results.

Make Repairs

For minor repairs, you’ll need drywall joint compound and mesh tape. Here are the basic steps:

  • For small cracks or holes, apply a thin layer of joint compound over the crack and use a putty knife to smooth it out. Let it dry completely.
  • For larger holes up to 6 inches wide, cover the hole with mesh drywall tape. Apply a thin layer of joint compound over the tape. Let dry and sand smooth before applying a second coat.
  • Allow each coat of compound to dry fully before sanding or applying another layer. Lightly sand each coat to create a smooth surface.
  • Apply a third thin coat if needed to fully cover the repair and achieve a smooth finish after sanding.

Be patient and allow plenty of drying time between coats. Sand lightly to avoid damaging the drywall.

For large holes or damaged areas, you may need to cut out the damaged drywall and replace it with new drywall. Make clean cuts, insert new drywall, and tape the seams. Finish as described above.

Finish and Prime

Once repairs are made and the joint compound is smooth:

  • Carefully remove painter’s tape from edges.
  • Sand the entire area with fine-grit sandpaper to smooth any ridges.
  • Wipe away dust with a dry cloth.
  • Apply drywall primer to create an even finish and improve paint adhesion. Allow primer to dry fully.

The area is now ready for paint or new tile backsplash! Use painter’s caulk to fill any remaining small gaps for a seamless finish. With some time and effort, you can achieve like-new drywall.

Tips for Preventing Drywall Damage

When removing a tile backsplash, take steps to minimize damage:

  • Use a putty knife or oscillating tool to carefully pry off tiles rather than hammering.
  • Go slowly and patiently to avoid cracking drywall.
  • Heat old adhesive with a hair dryer or heat gun before scraping.
  • Fill screw holes and cracks in drywall behind tiles before applying new backsplash.

Prevention is easier than repairs! Carefully remove tiles and promptly fix any drywall damage that occurs.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best compound to use for drywall repairs?

For small repairs, lightweight spackling compound works well and dries fast. For larger repairs, use fiberglass mesh drywall tape and pre-mixed drywall joint compound. Avoid high-shrinking compounds.

What should I use to fill gaps between drywall and tile?

Use silicone caulk or grout to fill any small gaps between the edges of drywall and new tile. This prevents moisture getting behind the tile and damaging drywall.

How long does joint compound need to dry between coats?

Drying times vary by brand, but generally 24 hours is ideal between coats. Some compounds may dry within 4-6 hours. Always ensure previous coats are fully dry before adding another layer.

How many coats of joint compound are needed?

2-3 thin coats are usually sufficient for most repairs. Allow thorough drying between coats and sand smooth. More coats may be needed for large repairs.

Should I use paper or fiberglass mesh tape?

For drywall repairs, self-adhesive fiberglass mesh tape typically provides the strongest repair that resists cracking. Paper tape is prone to bubbling or tearing when drywall moves.


Repairing drywall after removing tile backsplash involves carefully assessing the damage, proper surface preparation, applying joint compound for cracks and holes, replacing severely damaged areas, and proper finishing and priming. With some time and effort, you can repair drywall to like-new condition again. Taking steps to prevent damage during removal also minimizes the repairs needed. With the right materials and techniques, you can refresh your backsplash area and give it a gorgeous new look.