How to Repair Wall After Removing Tile Backsplash

Removing a tile backsplash can sometimes cause damage to the wall behind it. Here is a detailed guide on how to repair walls after tile removal, to get them looking fresh and new again.

Assessing the Wall Damage

The first step is to examine the wall once you have removed the tile. Check for any of the following:

  • Holes or gouges in the drywall from prying off stubborn tiles
  • Ripped or torn paper face on the drywall
  • Cracks along seams or corners of drywall sheets
  • Signs of water damage behind the tile, like bubbles or soft spots

Make note of any problem areas so you can address them properly. Also look for studs behind the drywall, to ensure you can secure new materials.

Prepping the Wall Surface

Before applying any patching compounds or new drywall, you need to get the surface ready. Here are the key steps:

  • Remove any remaining tile mortar or adhesive with a putty knife or chisel. Get down to the bare drywall face.
  • Sand rough or uneven areas with 60-80 grit sandpaper. Wear a respirator to avoid breathing dust.
  • Wash the walls with TSP cleaner to remove dirt and residues. Rinse thoroughly.
  • Fill any cracks or gaps wider than 1/8 inch with acrylic latex caulk. Let dry completely.
  • Prime the walls with a drywall primer to aid adhesion of patching compounds.

Once prepped, the surface should be clean, dull, and uniformly primed. Now you can begin repairs.

Patching Drywall Damage

For small holes, gouges, and seams:

  • Use a setting-type drywall joint compound to fill and seal the defects. Apply with a putty knife.
  • Embed drywall joint tape over large cracks or damaged seams for reinforcement.
  • Feather out compound several inches beyond repairs to blend edges.
  • Sand once dry and top-coat with lightweight spackling for a smooth finish.

For larger holes or sections with removed paper face:

  • Cut back the opening to the center of framing members and insert new drywall to fit snugly.
  • Screw in place then tape seams with joint compound and fiberglass mesh tape.
  • Skim coat area with thin layers of compound, allowing it to fully dry between applications.
  • Sand smooth when dry and blend edges by feathering compound.

Severe water damage may require cutting out entire damaged sections and replacing with new drywall before continuing repairs.

Applying New Tile Backsplash

Once the wall repairs are complete and smooth, you can install a fresh tile backsplash. Be sure to:

  • Plan tile layout based on the position of appliances, counters, and fixtures.
  • Select tile and mastic suitable for kitchen backsplash use.
  • Prepare the surface as necessary – apply backerboard, cement board, or another suitable substrate over the repaired drywall.
  • Carefully apply tile spacers before setting tiles. Use zig-zag technique for even coverage.
  • Grout once tiles have set, using proper technique to compact into joints.
  • Seal grout once cured to protect from moisture and staining.

With some diligence and patience, you can repair any wall damage that occurred during tile removal and install a brand new backsplash. Take time to prep the surface properly, make repairs carefully, and apply new tile according to directions. The end result will be a revitalized kitchen wall space.

Frequently Asked Questions About Repairing Walls After Removing Tile Backsplash

How do I get old mastic off the wall after taking down tile?

Use a mastic remover solution or mineral spirits to help soften old tile adhesive. Scrape off residue with a putty knife. Sand any remaining residue until the drywall face is clear.

What is the best filler to use for gouges and holes in drywall?

For small repairs, a setting-type joint compound is best. For large holes, use fiberglass mesh drywall tape with joint compound to patch and reinforce. Lightweight spackle works for final skim coating.

What should I do if water damaged the drywall under the tile?

Cut out any sections with soft spots or damage beyond surface level. Replace with new, matching drywall and tape seams before refinishing the repair.

Can I just paint over drywall repairs or do I need to prime first?

Always prime repaired drywall before painting. The primer helps the paint adhere properly. Use a high quality drywall primer.

How long does joint compound need to dry before sanding or recoating?

Drying times vary by climate but typically take 24 hours between coats. Allow the final coat to dry 48-72 hours before sanding or applying primer and paint.


Removing old backsplash tile can definitely do some damage to your kitchen walls. With the right prep work, repair materials, and techniques however, you can fix any drywall holes, gouges, seams, or water damage that may have occurred. Patience and proper steps will ensure your walls are restored to a fresh, smooth surface, ready for a stylish new backsplash. Just tackle repairs carefully and methodically. Soon your kitchen will have a fully renewed look.