Backsplash is a popular design element in many kitchens and bathrooms. It refers to the material applied to the wall behind sinks, stoves, and other fixtures. Backsplash serves both decorative and functional purposes – protecting the walls from splashes and spills while also adding visual interest.
Over time, backsplash can become damaged, outdated, or you may simply want to change the look. Removing backsplash completely revitalizes the space. Taking it off properly prevents damage to the walls underneath. With some time and effort, you can take backsplash off successfully.
Gather the Right Tools and Supplies
Taking backsplash off requires having the proper tools for the material you need to remove. Common backsplash materials include:
- Ceramic tile – Backsplash made of individual tile pieces mud-set into the wall. Requires a hammer and chisel.
- Mosaic tile – Tiny tiles mounted on sheets and installed as full sections. Use a pry bar.
- Metal backsplash – Aluminum or stainless steel installed in sheets. A pry bar works.
- Glass tile – Intricate glass mosaic tiles. Need a hammer and chisel.
- Stone – Natural stone like granite, in tile form. Use a chisel.
- Plastic/vinyl – Waterproof plastic sheets. Pull off by hand.
Other supplies needed:
- Drop cloths and painters tape to protect floors and surfaces
- Safety gear – gloves, eye protection, mask
- Garbage bags for tile removal and disposal
- Cleaning solutions – multipurpose cleaner, grout cleaner
- Sandpaper and spackle for drywall repairs
- Replacement backsplash materials (if immediately replacing)
Gather all necessary tools and supplies before starting demo. This makes the process faster and easier.
Prepare the Backsplash Area
Prior to backsplash removal, properly prepare the workspace:
- Clear area – Remove anything around or below the backsplash. Take items off counters and shelves.
- Protect surfaces – Cover floors, countertops, sinks/fixtures with drop cloths. Use painters tape at the top edge.
- Cover plumbing – Seal off any exposed plumbing or electrical behind backsplash. Prevent debris from entering.
- Photograph layout – Take pictures of the existing backsplash. Reference later for re-installation.
- Disconnect fixtures – Unhook sinks, stoves, or anything attached to backsplash.
Advance preparation minimizes potential damage and allows you to work efficiently.
Demo and Remove the Backsplash
With the proper tools and prep work complete, it’s time to take the backsplash down. Use the following techniques based on your material:
Tile Backsplash Removal
Ceramic, stone, or glass tile:
- Chisel grout lines using a grout removal tool or flathead screwdriver. This frees tiles.
- Place towel or cardboard behind chisel to prevent wall damage.
- Once grout is cleared, strike tiles with hammer or mallet to dislodge.
- Remove tile pieces and any remaining thinset from the wall.
- Insert pry bar between bottom edge of sheet and wall. Slowly pry upwards.
- Work bar side-to-side to detach entire sheet. Remove screws as necessary.
- Pull mosaic off the wall and scrape behind with putty knife.
Panel Backsplash Removal
Metal, plastic, or vinyl sheets:
- Locate perimeter edges. Insert pry bar and pull sheet away from wall.
- Pop any nails or screws using flathead screwdriver or pliers.
- Slowly pry panel off, being careful not to bend or damage it.
- Use putty knife to remove any remaining adhesive.
Work methodically across the backsplash area until it is entirely removed. Wear safety gear and work carefully when prying tools to avoid injury.
Clean and Repair the Wall
Once backsplash demo is complete, work can begin to restore the underlying wall:
- Remove all old thinset, mastic, grout, and adhesive from wall with putty knife.
- Use a grout removal tool, oscillating multi-tool, or rotary tool to clear out remaining debris in crevices.
- Fill any dents, cracks, or uneven spots using drywall joint compound. Allow to dry and sand smooth.
- Scrub the newly exposed wall with a multipurpose cleaner and water. Rinse thoroughly.
- Make any needed repairs to drywall before applying new backsplash.
- Allow the wall to fully dry for 24-48 hours before installing replacement backsplash.
Proper wall prep creates an ideal surface for your new backsplash application.
Transport and Dispose of Demo Debris
The final step is properly disposing of backsplash demolition waste:
- Place removed backsplash tiles/panels in garbage bags or boxes. Stack neatly.
- Take extra caution when handling broken glass tile. Double wrap in paper.
- Transport debris to disposal area. Move carefully to avoid spillage or injury.
- Check your local regulations. Some backsplash materials can go to regular landfills. Others require special disposal.
- If re-using any of the backsplash, inspect condition and set usable pieces aside.
- Follow recycling rules if able. Salvage or donate any fixtures removed.
Safe debris removal completes the backsplash removal process. Exercise caution and proper lifting techniques when carrying the waste out.
Install a New, Fresh Backsplash
Once the former backsplash is taken down, the next exciting step is choosing a replacement:
- Visit home improvement stores to view backsplash options. There are endless styles and materials to pick from.
- Consider factors like your home’s aesthetic, durability needs, skill level, and budget.
- Measure the backsplash space and purchase new materials. Include extra for errors and cuts.
- Carefully prepare the wall and install the new backsplash properly per product specifications.
The end result will be a stunning new backsplash you can enjoy for years to come! Taking the time to properly remove the old backsplash ensures your new one has a solid foundation.
FAQs About Removing Backsplash
How do I remove glass tile backsplash?
Use a hammer and chisel to chip away grout then gently tap glass tiles to dislodge. Wear protective gear when handling broken glass. Dispose of shards safely.
Can I just put new backsplash over the old?
It is not recommended. Layers of backsplash are prone to moisture issues and installation problems. Remove old backsplash completely first.
What’s the easiest backsplash to take down?
Sheet style plastic, vinyl, or metal backsplashes are easiest to pry off the wall. Use a pry bar and work around the edges.
What tool removes backsplash tiles?
A chisel and hammer work for most tile materials. Tap the chisel gently along grout lines to free tiles, then give a controlled whack with the hammer.
How do I remove mastic after taking down backsplash?
Use a putty knife, oscillating tool, or solvent designed for adhesive removal. Always follow safety precautions when using chemicals.
What’s the best way to get grout off a wall?
Use a specialty grout removal tool, or a flathead screwdriver along grout lines. Avoid damaging the drywall behind the grout.
Can I salvage the tiles from my backsplash?
Sometimes yes. Inspect the tiles closely. If still in good condition with no cracks or chips, they can potentially be reused.
What can I use instead of a pry bar for backsplash removal?
Flathead screwdrivers, stiff putty knives, oscillating multi-tools, or even a sturdy butter knife can pry in some cases.
How do I remove stuck-on backsplash adhesive?
Try scraping with a putty knife first, then use adhesive remover solvents or hot soapy water to dissolve residue.
How do I prep the wall after taking down backsplash?
Clean thoroughly with a degreasing agent then make any needed drywall repairs. Allow the wall to fully dry before adding new backsplash.
Although it takes some work, removing existing backsplash opens up new design possibilities. With the right tools and safety precautions, you can successfully take out your old backsplash. Follow prep, demolition, cleanup, and disposal steps carefully. The newly bare wall provides the ideal blank slate for an exciting backsplash upgrade.