Pastel and white tiles.

How To Remove Tile Backsplash

Originally contributed by • last updated 5/28/2021

Danny Howe
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Unsplash

Tile replacement is a fantastic way to say goodbye to the old and hello to the new.

Removing a tile backsplash and installing something cleaner and fresher can elevate your kitchen and make it feel more modern.

In this lesson, we’ll teach you how to remove tile from a wall so you can easily replace your backsplash, getting you one step closer to that culinary happy place.

If you’re tackling a larger kitchen demolition project, check out How To Remove Kitchen Cabinets.

Always wear safety glasses when removing ceramic tile. An important how-to to remember when you remove a tile backsplash is safety-first!

Let's Make It

Equipment

  • Chisel
  • Scraper
  • Pry/ demo bar
  • Putty knife
  • Hammer
  • Sandpaper/ sanding pad
  • Mastic trowel/ float

Materials

  • Mastic

The Best Tile Removal Tools

The best way to remove tile is with the right tile removal tool.

When removing ceramic tile from a wall, you need a very flat tool to get underneath the tile but not damage the drywall.

Chisels, scrappers, pry and demo bars, and even putty knives will give you the best chance of lifting the tiles off the wall without destroying what’s behind.

Carefully using a hammer and a chisel or pry bar will produce cleaner results than something like a jackhammer. They’re much cheaper, too!

How To Remove Tile Backsplash

01/3

How To Remove Tile From A Wall

Construction Coach
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YouTube

Begin your tile removal at the edge of the backsplash.

Using a scraper, chisel and hammer, or a pry bar, hit the tiles until they either lift from the wall or break off.

Keep the tool you’re using as parallel to the wall as possible.

Holding the tool on just a slight angle away will be enough to pop off the tiles and cause only minor damage to the drywall behind.

Tip: Cover any drains (e.g. sink) to avoid having any fragments fall into them.

Work Your Way In

Construction Coach
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YouTube

Work your way in towards the center of the kitchen backsplash until you have removed all the tiles.

Tip: If there are any electrical outlets on the backsplash, take off the covers and turn off the electricity before tile removal. When you get close to anything electrical, use a smaller tool and be careful not to damage the outlet or switch.

Construction Coach
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YouTube

Tip: Using the back of a pry bar and a hammer is excellent for removing stubborn tiles from a wall. The angle on the end of the bar provides an easy surface to strike with the hammer, and it’s naturally at the proper angle to minimize wall damage.

With the tile removed, use a putty knife and sandpaper to scrap or sand off any residual mastic left on the drywall.

02/3

Prep Drywall For New Tiling

Construction Coach
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YouTube

If there was a lot of damage to the drywall during the tile removal process, then you must replace the drywall. If this is the case, check out How To Hang Drywall.

If there is only minor surface damage, you can fill the small voids with tile mastic.

For any tile spacers still stuck to the wall after tile removal, use pliers to extract them from the drywall before mastic application.

Skim true the wall with tile mastic by applying it with a trowel or float. Hold the trowel/float at a 35 to 45-degree angle for best results.

Make the wall flat and smooth again. This may take more than one coat of mastic.

03/3

Tile Replacement

Construction Coach
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YouTube

After mastic is dry, sand it until smooth using a drywall sanding pad, and then proceed with installing your new tile backsplash.

Removing a tile backsplash from a wall isn’t a complicated process. It just takes a little bit of elbow grease.

However, if you take the time to learn proper tile removal techniques, you can save yourself money and energy when it comes time to installing new tile on the drywall.

If you have any tips and tricks on how to remove a tile backsplash from a wall, we’d love to hear them!