Peel and stick backsplash tiles provide a simple and budget-friendly way to update your kitchen or bathroom backsplash. However, they aren’t intended to be permanent, and you may eventually want to remove them and install different tiles. Taking off peel and stick backsplash tiles is doable with some effort and care. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to properly remove peel and stick backsplash tiles.
What You Need
- Putty knife or painters tool
- Heat gun or blow dryer
- Scrap piece of wood
- Razor blade
- Goo Gone or adhesive remover
- Eye protection
Preparing for Removal
Before starting to remove the tiles, make sure to take a few preparatory steps:
- Clear the countertops and remove anything on the backsplash to provide easy access.
- Take detailed photos of the current backsplash installation. This will help if you need to reinstall tiles in the same pattern.
- Turn off power at the circuit breaker to any outlets or appliances in the backsplash area.
- Put on safety glasses to protect your eyes.
Heating and Scraping
With the prep work done, it’s time to start removing the tiles:
Step 1: Heat the Tiles
- Using a heat gun or blow dryer, apply heat evenly across the surface of each tile. This helps soften the adhesive so the tiles can release.
- Move the heat gun constantly to avoid overheating in one spot. Heat each tile for 30-60 seconds before scraping.
Step 2: Gently Scrape Away
- Insert a putty knife or painters tool under the edge of the heated tile.
- Slowly and gently twist the tool to lift and scrape the tile off the wall.
- Apply more heat as needed if the adhesive is still sticky.
- Be patient and take your time to avoid damaging the wall surface.
Step 3: Remove Adhesive Residue
- Any adhesive left on the wall will need to be scraped off as well.
- Use a razor blade to gently scrape off any sticky residue after removing the tiles.
- Avoid gouging into the wall surface as you scrape.
Cleaning Off Residual Adhesive
Once all tiles and residue are removed, there will still be a sticky adhesive film left on the wall. Removing this requires some cleaning solutions:
- Spray Goo Gone or another adhesive remover onto the wall surface. Allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes.
- Use a rag and scrub at the adhesive to dissolve it away. Repeat as needed for stubborn areas.
- Wipe the wall down with a clean rag and warm water to remove any cleaning solution or adhesive film left behind.
- Let the backsplash dry fully before doing any new installation.
Preparing the Surface for New Tiles
To ensure proper adhesion and optimal results with your new backsplash tiles, the wall surface needs to be prepared after old tile removal:
- Sand or scrape down high spots or bumps in the wall surface. Fill any gouges or uneven areas with spackle compound.
- Clean the surface thoroughly with rubbing alcohol to remove residue.
- Follow any additional prep directions from your new tile manufacturer.
- Apply primer if suggested for the specific tile type.
Once prepped, the backsplash is ready for your new peel and stick tiles! Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully for installing the new tiles.
Tips for Easier Removal
- Try running floss behind the tiles to help cut through caulk or adhesive.
- For stubborn tiles, reheat the area and insert a wood shim to gently pry up.
- Avoid letting tiles sit in direct sunlight, as heat can strengthen the adhesive.
- Work slowly and methodically for the most controlled tile removal.
How long does it take to remove backsplash tiles?
On average, removing a full backsplash takes 2-4 hours. Working slowly and reapplying heat allows the tiles to come off cleanly. Rushing may damage the tiles or wall surface.
What about electrical outlets in the backsplash area?
Turn off power at the breaker before starting. Remove outlet covers carefully before heating and scraping nearby. Avoid prying off tiles right next to outlets to prevent damage.
Is it easier to remove tiles if they are not caulked?
Yes, removing any caulk between the tiles first makes prying them off easier. However, uncaulked tiles may come off more quickly and unpredictably.
Can the wall surface be damaged when removing backsplash tiles?
If you take care to heat tiles thoroughly and scrape gently, damage should be minimal. Any residual gouges or high spots can be remedied with spackle or sanding.
What about removing stubborn or thick adhesive?
Adhesive remover solutions are highly effective at breaking down old tile adhesive. Apply liberally and let sit before scrubbing off. Repeat as needed.
Removing outdated or worn peel and stick backsplash tiles takes some work, but yields a fresh blank slate for new tile installation. With the proper tools and techniques of heating, gently prying up tiles, and cleaning adhesive, you can tackle this project and renovate your kitchen or bath backsplash. Just be sure to work slowly and carefully to get the best results.