Is peel and stick backsplash easy to remove?

Peel and stick backsplashes have become an increasingly popular option for DIYers looking to easily upgrade their kitchens. Made from vinyl or another lightweight material and backed with an adhesive, these backsplashes can be installed directly over existing tile, drywall, or other surfaces. While the installation is straightforward, many homeowners wonder – is it just as easy to remove peel and stick backsplash when it’s time for an update? Here is a detailed overview on how to remove a peel and stick backsplash and what to expect during the process.

What is a peel and stick backsplash?

A peel and stick backsplash is a lightweight, self-adhesive wall covering that is used to create an instant facelift for kitchens or other areas. Here are some key features of peel and stick backsplashes:

  • Made of vinyl, aluminum, or other thin flexible materials
  • Coated with a peelable adhesive backing
  • Often have a decorative finish like subway tile, marble, or stone
  • Easy “peel and stick” installation – no grout or special tools needed
  • Used to cover existing backsplash tile, drywall, plaster, concrete, etc
  • Available in a variety of colors, patterns, finishes and sizes

Peel and stick backsplashes provide a budget-friendly way to quickly update a dated or damaged backsplash without undertaking a full tile removal and replacement. Many homeowners opt to install them as a temporary solution while saving up for a full kitchen remodel down the road.

Is it easy to remove peel and stick backsplash?

The removal process depends on a few factors:

Age of the backsplash

The longer the backsplash has been installed, the more difficult it will likely be to remove. The adhesive has time to fully cure and bond over months to years, making it harder to peel off.

Surface material

Tile or drywall surfaces are easier to remove from versus textured plaster or concrete surfaces, which can damage more easily.

Adhesive strength

Higher quality peel and stick backsplashes often have stronger adhesives, making them more difficult to remove intact. Cheaper vinyl versions may lift off easier.

Patience and care

Taking your time and slowly peeling up the material starting in a corner or along an edge will yield the best results.

While not quite as easy as installation, most standard peel and stick backsplash materials can be removed intact with some effort and care. Here are some general tips for removal:

Step-by-step guide to remove peel and stick backsplash

1. Prepare the tools needed

You’ll want to have the following supplies on hand:

  • Painter’s tool or putty knife
  • Heat gun or hair dryer
  • Soft rags
  • Mineral spirits or adhesive remover
  • Patching compound and tools for wall repair

Tip: Slow heating with a hair dryer or heat gun softens the adhesive, making the vinyl easier to peel up. Be very careful not to overheat.

2. Find an edge or seam to start

The goal is to slowly peel up the material, so you need to find an edge or a weak point in the seam to start removal. Corners and perimeter edges often work well.

3. Apply heat and slowly peel up

Using even, moderate heat from a hair dryer or heat gun, warm a small section for 30-60 seconds. Carefully insert the putty knife and gently lift up, peeling the vinyl away as you go. Caution: too much heat can melt the vinyl.

4. Continue peeling up gradually

Work in manageable sections, applying heat and peeling up slowly. The material should come off relatively intact if care is taken. Roll or fold it up as you remove it.

5. Use adhesive remover for stubborn areas

Any leftover adhesive can be softened up with mineral spirits or another adhesive remover applied with a rag. This helps remove residue more cleanly. Avoid solvents that could damage the wall underneath.

6. Clean and patch walls as needed

With the old backsplash peeled up, wash the walls with an all-purpose cleaner and water. Fill any gouges or imperfections in the drywall with patching compound and sand smooth when dry.

7. Prime and prep for new backsplash

Once the walls are prepped and smooth, apply primer and you’re ready to install a new backsplash!

What to do with the removed peel and stick backsplash?

Once you’ve removed the old peel and stick backsplash intact, you have a couple options:

  • Reuse it: If still in good condition with no damage, consider reusing it in another area like a laundry room or basement space.
  • Recycle it: Check if vinyl backsplash materials can be recycled in your local area. Some vinyl recycling programs accept these.
  • Throw it away: If damaged or no recycling options available, discard responsibly in your regular garbage.

And that’s it! With some careful prying and peeling, even multi-year old peel and stick backsplashes can usually be removed without too much trouble. Just go slow and use heat and adhesive removers as needed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I remove peel and stick backsplash from tile or drywall?

Yes, peel and stick backsplash can be removed from tile, drywall, plaster, concrete, and various other wall materials. The main factors are the adhesive strength, age of installation, and care taken during removal.

Will peel and stick backsplash damage my walls when removing?

If removed slowly and carefully, it generally will not damage walls underneath. However, plaster or drywall can get gouged or scraped if you try to rush prying it off. Use heat and take your time.

How long does it take to remove an old peel and stick backsplash?

It depends on the size of the area, but plan on at least 1-3 hours for a moderate sized kitchen backsplash. Larger installations could take 5-6 hours or more if care is taken to remove it intact.

Can I install new tile or backsplash right over peel and stick?

It is not recommended. Adhesive residue will likely prevent proper bonding of new tile. Existing backsplash vinyl or tile should be removed down the studs or masonry surface first.

What’s the easiest way to remove peel and stick backsplash?

Applying moderate heat with a hair dryer or heat gun softens the adhesive, allowing the vinyl to peel up gradually with less force or damage. Taking your time is also key for easy removal.


Although peel and stick backsplash is designed for quick and simple installation, removing it entirely does take some work. With care, heat application, and adhesive removers, these backsplash vinyls can usually be peeled off successfully from most wall surfaces. Just prepare for a potentially time-consuming process and aim to remove the material intact without wall damage. And be sure to prep the surface properly afterward for your new upgraded backsplash!