How to Replace Broken Backsplash Tile

Replacing broken backsplash tiles can seem daunting, but with the right planning and tools it can be a straightforward DIY project. A damaged or missing backsplash tile mars the look of your kitchen. With some effort, you can restore the backsplash to its original beauty. Follow this guide to learn how to replace broken backsplash tiles in your kitchen.

Assessing the Damage

The first step is to take a close look at the backsplash and identify which tiles need replacing. Look for:

  • Cracked or chipped tiles
  • Missing tiles with exposed adhesive or wall behind
  • Tiles that have become detached from the wall

Also check the surrounding tiles to see if any are loose or damaged. It’s best to replace the entire damaged section for a seamless look.

Make note of the tile size, thickness, texture, and grout color. Take a spare tile to the home improvement store to find the closest match if replacements are needed.

Gathering Supplies

You’ll need the following supplies:

  • Replacement tiles
  • Spacer tiles
  • Grout (get color to match existing)
  • Grout sealer
  • Trowel
  • Grout float
  • Grout sponge
  • Utility knife
  • Adhesive suitable for backsplashes
  • Painter’s tape

Optional supplies:

  • Dust mask
  • Knee pads
  • Gloves
  • Eye protection
  • Pry bar for stubborn tiles

Make sure to get the right tools and supplies for the tile material. Ceramic, mosaic, glass, and stone tiles may require specific adhesives and specialty tools.

Prepping the Area

To begin, prep the backsplash area:

  1. Remove everything from the backsplash, including appliances, décor, etc.
  2. Protect the countertops with drop cloths.
  3. Mix up adhesive if required by manufacturer directions.
  4. Have a bowl of clean water and rags ready to wipe up messes.

Put on safety gear like gloves, goggles, mask, and knee pads. Work slowly and carefully to avoid damaging good tiles.

Removing Damaged Tiles

The next steps are to remove the broken tiles:

  • Carefully cut through the grout around damaged tiles using a utility knife. Try to leave neighboring grout intact.
  • Once grout is cleared, pry tiles off gently with a putty knife. Knock tiles with a hammer and block to dislodge if needed.
  • Scrape off old grout and adhesive completely with a putty knife or chisel.
  • Vacuum up all loose material and debris.
  • Inspect the wall surface for damage. Fill holes or flaws with spackle and let dry completely.

Be patient and work methodically to avoid harming solid tiles. Take your time scraping to get a clean surface for new tile adhesion.

Installing New Tiles

After old tiles are removed, you can install fresh backsplash tiles:

  • Dry fit the replacement tiles first to ensure a proper fit. Use spacers for even grout lines.
  • Mix up adhesive and apply evenly to the back of each replacement tile.
  • Press tiles firmly into place on the prepped area of the wall.
  • Use painter’s tape to hold large tiles in place if needed until adhesive cures.
  • Let adhesive fully cure according to manufacturer directions, usually 24-48 hours.

Take care to keep tile faces clean while adhesive cures. Wipe up any messes promptly with a damp sponge.

Regrouting the Backsplash

With new tiles secured, it’s time to regrout the backsplash. Follow these steps:

  • Mix grout according to package directions. Use a grout float to press grout deeply into joints.
  • Let grout sit for a bit, then scrape off excess with a rubber grout float.
  • Wipe the entire surface clean with a damp sponge. Rinse sponge frequently.
  • Allow grout to fully cure for 72 hours.
  • Seal grout with a penetrating sealer to protect from stains.

Make sure to smooth grout properly in joints between tiles. Wipe diagonally across tiles to prevent smearing.

Tips for Success

Follow these tips for the best results:

  • Take photographs before removing tiles to reference grout colors and tile layout.
  • Consider applying painter’s tape around good tiles for protection.
  • Number each replacement tile and its location before removing.
  • Rinse sponges and tools frequently while grouting.
  • Avoid wiping off too much grout from tile faces.
  • Confirm tiles are firmly attached by gently tapping before grouting.
  • Use a grout sealer to protect grout from dirt and stains.

With patience and care, you can achieve a stunning backsplash transformation. Take a step back and admire your beautiful, restored backsplash once the project is complete!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I remove stubborn backsplash tiles?

For firmly stuck tiles, use a pry bar levered against a wood block to gently pop them off. Tap edges with a hammer and chisel to loosen. Heat with a hair dryer or heat gun to soften old adhesive. Avoid damaging good tiles.

Can I just replace a section of backsplash?

It’s best to replace the entire damaged area for a seamless look. Stagger new tiles to blend old and new. Use painter’s tape to protect surrounding tiles.

What if I can’t find matching replacement tiles?

If your backsplash tile is discontinued, look for a close match in material, size, and finish. A contrasting tile can work with proper placement. Or consider retiling the entire backsplash.

Can I install backsplash tile over existing tile?

It’s not recommended. Extra tile layers can cause adhesion issues down the road. Remove existing tile for best results. Some exceptions can be made for stone veneer tiles.

How long should I wait to grout after installing backsplash tiles?

It’s best to allow tile adhesive to fully cure first, often 24-48 hours. Check the adhesive directions. Rushing to grout can weaken the tile bond.


Replacing broken backsplash tiles requires careful prep, removal of damaged tiles, proper installation of new tiles, and regrouting. With the right tools and techniques, you can breathe new life into your kitchen backsplash. Take it slow, seek help if needed, and refer to this guide for how to replace broken backsplash tile successfully. The end result will be a stunning, revitalized focal point in your kitchen.