Removing a tile backsplash can be a daunting task, but with the right tools and techniques, it doesn’t have to be. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to remove tile backsplash in your kitchen or bathroom.

Gather the Necessary Materials

Before starting demolition, make sure you have all the necessary materials on hand:

  • Safety goggles and mask – to protect your eyes and respiratory system from debris
  • Gloves – to protect your hands from sharp edges and debris
  • Hammer – to break tile and knock off grout
  • Flat pry bar – to pry off tiles
  • Putty knife – to scrape off old grout
  • Dustpan and broom – to collect debris
  • Shop vacuum – to collect smaller debris
  • Tile remover solution – to soften grout and make removal easier
  • Chisel – to remove stubborn tiles
  • Bucket – to mix tile remover solution
  • Rags – for cleaning up

Protect Surrounding Areas

Before starting, take steps to protect surrounding areas from potential damage during the tile removal process:

  • Cover countertops and appliances with drop cloths
  • Remove anything breakable from the backsplash area
  • Tape plastic sheeting over cabinets to protect from debris/moisture
  • Sweep and vacuum the floor around the workspace

Remove Any Molding or Trim

If the tile backsplash extended under any border trim or molding, remove these pieces first using a pry bar. Take care not to damage the underlying drywall.

Apply Tile Removal Solution

Mix up a batch of tile remover solution per the product directions. Using a paintbrush, apply a liberal amount over the entire backsplash area. This will soften the grout and adhesive for easier removal. Allow the solution to soak in for the recommended time.

Remove Grout Between Tiles

Use a putty knife or grout removal tool to scrape out the grout between tiles. Try to remove as much as possible to separate the entire area into individual tiles. The tile remover solution should soften the grout considerably.

Pry Off Tiles

Once grout is removed, you can begin prying off the tiles. Start in a bottom corner and work horizontally using a pry bar. Apply force gradually. If needed, use a hammer to lightly tap the pry bar for extra leverage. Stack removed tiles out of the way.

Remove Any Remaining Adhesive

Often adhesive residue will remain on the wall after prying off tiles. Use a putty knife to gently scrape off any stubborn areas. Avoid damaging the drywall. Apply more remover solution if needed.

Clean and Smooth the Wall

Once all old tile and adhesive is removed, thoroughly sweep and vacuum the area. Use a damp rag to wipe away any remaining debris or chemical residue from the tile remover. Fill any gouges in the drywall with spackle and sand smooth.

Prepare for New Backsplash

After smoothing the wall, you can begin prepping for a new backsplash installation. Make any needed drywall repairs first. Prime and paint the area so it’s ready for new tile. Follow manufacturer’s directions for adhesive based on your new tile material.

Removing a tile backsplash takes time and elbow grease, but is entirely doable as a DIY project. With the proper tools and prep, you can have that outdated backsplash removed in no time. Be sure to take safety precautions and properly dispose of all debris. In no time you’ll have a smooth blank slate ready for a fresh new backsplash design.

Frequently Asked Questions About Removing Tile Backsplash

What tools do I need to remove a tile backsplash?

The basic tools you’ll need are safety goggles and mask, gloves, a hammer, flat pry bar, putty knife, dustpan and broom, shop vacuum, tile remover solution, chisel, bucket, and rags. Having the right tools makes the job much easier.

How do I remove the grout between tiles?

Use a putty knife, grout removal tool or oscillating multi-tool to scrape out old grout. Apply a tile remover solution first to soften old grout and make it easier to remove. Try to remove all grout before prying off tiles.

What’s the easiest way to get tiles off the wall?

Applying a tile remover solution helps soften the old adhesive. Start prying tiles off from a bottom corner using a pry bar. Apply steady force and use light taps from a hammer if needed. Work horizontally across the backsplash.

What do I do if a tile won’t come off?

For stubborn tiles that resist removal, use a hammer and chisel to carefully chip away at them until they come free. Focus on chiseling underneath to break the adhesive seal.

How do I get rid of old tile adhesive on the wall?

Use a putty knife to gently scrape off any adhesive residue remaining after tile removal. Apply more remover solution and let it sit for 5-10 minutes first to soften the adhesive. Avoid gouging into the drywall.

Can I put new tile over an existing backsplash?

It’s not recommended to install new tile over old. Old tile needs to be removed completely down to the wall surface for proper adhesion. Any grout lines or texture from the old tile will likely show through the new.