How to Remove Backsplash Tiles from Your Kitchen

How To Remove Backsplash Tiles

If you’re renovating your kitchen or simply want to update your backsplash with new tile, you’ll need to remove the existing tile backsplash first. Removing a tile backsplash may seem daunting, but it can be done successfully without damaging the drywall if you take the proper precautions. We’ll walk through the entire process step-by-step, from gathering supplies to prepping the area to carefully prying off each tile. With some patience and the right techniques, you can take out your old backsplash tiles without harming the wall underneath.

What You’ll Need to Remove Tile Backsplash

Removing a tile backsplash requires having the proper tools and supplies on hand before getting started. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Safety glasses
  • Flat pry bar
  • Hammer
  • Putty knives
  • Grout removal tool
  • Scraper
  • Dust masks
  • Drop cloths
  • Garbage bags
  • Box cutter
  • Joint compound
  • Drywall joint tape
  • Sandpaper

You’ll use items like the pry bar, putty knives, and scraper to carefully remove each tile one-by-one. The grout removal tool helps eliminate existing grout. Drop cloths, masks, and safety glasses keep the area clean and protect you from debris. Once all old tile is gone, compounds, tape, and sandpaper will repair any underlying drywall damage.

Preparing the Backsplash Area

With your supplies gathered, you can start prepping the backsplash space for tile removal. First, clear the area of any dishes, appliances, décor items, etc. that may get in the way. Cover nearby surfaces, like countertops or floors, with drop cloths to protect from damage and debris.

Next, score the grout lines surrounding each tile using a utility knife or box cutter. This involves cutting into the grout thinly so that it’s easier to chip away later on. Be very careful not to cut too deeply or allow the blade to slice into the drywall behind the grout.

You may also want to number each tile using a pencil. This lets you remove them systematically row-by-row rather than randomly. It also helps ensure no tiles get missed in the removal process.

Once scoring and numbering is complete, you’re ready to begin eliminating the grout.

Removing Existing Grout from the Tiles

With the grout scored and the tiles numbered, you can move onto removing the existing grout using a grout removal tool. Simply run the tool along each grout line, working in small sections, to rake out and scrape away grout.

Applying force on the grout removal tool at an angle lets you effectively eliminate the grout without digging into the drywall behind it. Remove all visible grout surrounding each tile before attempting to pry them off individually in the next steps.

Depending on the size of your backsplash, removing all the grout may take 15-30 minutes. Just be patient and do not rush this important step. If any thin grout remnants are left over, they will come off later when the tiles themselves are pried off.

Carefully Prying off Each Tile

Here is where careful precision comes in. You’ll want to remove each tile one-by-one, working in a systematic order using your numbered sequence as a guide.

Start by gently prying up the lowest corner of the first tile with a putty knife or flat pry bar. Slowly work around all edges, applying even force, until the entire tile releases from the wall. Continue doing this across each row based on your numbered sequence.

Twisting the tools rather than pulling directly outwards can help release the tile adhesive’s grip. Some tiles may come off cleanly in one piece while others require slowly working at them. Eventually they will pop off but beware of falling debris and watching for sharp tile shards or broken edges.

Many backsplashes utilize cement board rather than drywall for increased durability. Cement board is even harder than drywall so be extremely careful prying tiles off of it to avoid damaging the surface underneath. If a tile won’t budge, re-score the grout line and try again rather than exerting excessive force.

Inspecting and Repairing the Wall

Once a tile is removed, closely inspect the now exposed wall underneath for any damage or missing pieces of drywall paper. If small flaws exist, use joint compound and drywall joint tape to patch. Allow patches to fully cure before installing new backsplash tile.

Larger damaged areas may need new drywall panels cut and secured to fit. Ensure edges blend smoothly with the surrounding wall. Extensive drywall repairs will require priming and painting for a seamless look.

Check the remaining intact tiles for any cracks or damage as well. Continue the systematic removal process one tile at a time until they have all been eliminated. Address any underlying wall damage before progressing to the final step.

Prepping the Area for New Backsplash Tile

With all old tile removed and wall damage addressed, you can prep the backsplash area for new tile installation. Start by using water and a sponge to clean the entire surface. This eliminates any sticky adhesive, dirt, or debris.

Next, make any final wall repairs and sand them smooth. Then apply surface primer allowing it to fully dry. Finally, install your gorgeous new backsplash tile! Be sure your new tile sits level and that you use non-sanded grout for rooms like kitchens.


  1. How long does it take to remove a tile backsplash?
    • It depends on the size of your backsplash and the type of tiles. Generally, it can take a few hours.
  2. Can I remove a tile backsplash without damaging the drywall?
    • Yes, with careful techniques and the right tools, you can minimize drywall damage.
  3. What should I do with the old tiles?
    • Consider recycling or repurposing them for other home projects if they’re in good condition.
  4. Is it necessary to repair the drywall after tile removal?
    • Yes, to ensure a smooth surface for your new backsplash, repairing any damage is crucial.
  5. Can I install a new backsplash immediately after removal?
    • Yes, once the wall is prepared and smooth, you’re ready for a new installation.


And that’s it! By following these tips and techniques for safely removing tile backsplash, you can transform the heart of your kitchen with stunning new tile. Just go slow and use care not to harm the underlying drywall. With some perseverance your outdated backsplash will be gone and ready for an upgrade.

If you need help upgrading your backsplash, contact Pinnacle Building Group!

Table of Contents
Related Articles
How to Incorporate Sustainable features into Your Kitchen

How to Incorporate Sustainable Features into Your Kitchen

Use appliances that are energy efficient to reduce carbon footprint and save money on power, Choose materials with low VOC (volatile organic compounds) levels for your kitchen to reduce toxic air, LED bulbs, can save you money on your energy bills and reduce your carbon footprint, Research the best brands for kitchen appliances

Read More