How to Replace Backsplash Drywall

Replacing a backsplash is one of the easiest ways to update the look of your kitchen. Over time, backsplashes can become stained, damaged, or just look dated. Replacing the backsplash with new drywall is an affordable project that can make a big visual impact. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to replace backsplash drywall.

Assessing the Existing Backsplash

Before starting demolition, take some time to assess the existing backsplash. This will help you understand what needs to be done for the new installation.

  • Carefully examine the backsplash area. Look for any signs of water damage or mold growth behind the backsplash. This needs to be addressed before installing new drywall.
  • Determine what type of material the existing backsplash is made of. Ceramic tile and metal backsplashes need to be removed entirely. Drywall may be in good enough condition to go over with new drywall.
  • Look at what is behind the backsplash. Often there are layers of old wallpaper or other materials that may need to be removed as well.
  • Decide how much of the surrounding areas you plan to replace. It is generally best to remove and replace any damaged or problematic drywall beyond the immediate backsplash area.

Gathering Necessary Materials

Once you have thoroughly examined the space, make a list of all the materials you will need for the drywall backsplash installation. Having everything ready ahead of time will make the process smoother.

Materials Needed:

  • Drywall sheets designed for vertical installation. The thickness should match existing walls.
  • Joint compound
  • Drywall screws or backsplash adhesive
  • Drywall joint tape
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Backsplash-height cutting guide
  • Drywall tools (utility knife, T-square, etc.)
  • Drop cloths

Preparing the Area

Now comes the demolition portion. Carefully remove any existing backsplash materials like tile or metal sheeting. Scrape off old adhesive or mortar. Knock down any damaged drywall areas and remove debris.

It is important to get the area down to the wall studs so new drywall can be installed flush and level. Remove any nails, screws, or other protrusions. Vacuum the area thoroughly.

Use a stud finder to mark the wall stud locations. This will guide where screws or adhesive need to go.

If there are any particularly damaged areas beyond the backsplash, cut them out and replace those drywall sections as well.

Cutting and Installing New Drywall

Measure the backsplash area to determine what size drywall sheets you will need. Cut them to size accordingly with a utility knife and T-square. Wear proper eye protection when cutting.

Hold the drywall in place and secure it using either drywall screws placed into the studs or drywall adhesive applied to the back of the sheet. Make sure seams between panels fall over studs.

Aim for a tight fit. Any gaps wider than 1/8 inch should be filled with joint compound. Go slowly and double check your measurements.

Use drywall joint tape and compound to cover all seams and screw holes, feathering it out smoothly. Allow proper drying time between coats.

Applying Primer and Paint

Once the joint compound is fully cured, sand any ridges or uneven areas. Carefully sand cut edges to feather them into the existing wall surface.

Vacuum away all drywall dust. Wipe the entire area down with a damp cloth to remove lingering debris.

Apply 1-2 coats of drywall primer, allowing proper drying time between coats. This will create an even base for the finish paint.

Finish with 2 coats of kitchen-appropriate semi-gloss paint. Allow the paint to fully cure for several days before using the backsplash area.

Helpful Tips

  • Carefully measure and cut drywall to avoid too many seams or gaps.
  • Stagger seams when using multiple panels.
  • Screws should be placed 12-16 inches apart across studs.
  • Let joint compound fully dry between applications.
  • Apply finish coat of compound feathered out at least 8 inches.
  • Lightly sand between coats of primer and paint.
  • Clean area thoroughly before priming and painting.
  • Allow new paint several days to fully cure before use.

Replacing backsplash drywall is an affordable DIY project that can give your kitchen a fresh new look. With proper planning and materials, you can achieve professional-looking results. Just take it slow and follow sound drywall installation methods. The end result will be a beautiful, updated backsplash area.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of drywall should be used for a backsplash?

Moisture-resistant drywall is the best choice for kitchen backsplash areas. Standard drywall can work as well but may be more prone to moisture damage over time. Look for Type X or other backer board.

Should the new backsplash drywall go all the way to the ceiling?

It depends on preference, but typically backsplash drywall is installed to about 4 feet high. Some people opt for full height installation behind a stove. Extending it above countertops usually provides sufficient protection.

How are seams between drywall sheets finished?

Seams should be covered with joint tape embedded into joint compound. Use a taping knife to apply several coats feathered out, allowing proper drying between applications. Lightly sand before painting.

What kind of paint is best for a backsplash?

A semi-gloss latex enamel paint is ideal for backsplash areas. The sheen is easy to clean and more resistant to moisture and grease splatters. Alkyd enamel is another option. Avoid flat paints.

Can drywall backsplash get wet?

Occasional light moisture is fine but drywall backsplashes should not be subjected to prolonged direct water contact or leakage. Seal around fixtures and repair any moisture damage immediately.


Installing a new drywall backsplash is a relatively straightforward home improvement project that can make a dramatic difference in your kitchen’s appearance. With proper planning and materials, even first-timers can achieve professional-looking results. Just take your time and apply best practices for cutting, installing, taping, and finishing the drywall. Be sure to use moisture-resistant materials and finish with durable kitchen paint. With some elbow grease, you can affordably upgrade your backsplash on a DIY budget.