Carpentry | Home Maintenance | Kitchen | Tutorials

Tile Removal 101: Remove the Tile Backsplash Without Damaging the Drywall

In this article details a step by step how to instructional on how to remove an old tile backsplash without causing severe damage to the drywall.

Removing an old tile backsplash can seem like a daunting, maybe even infeasible task.  There are questions like, ‘how do I begin to remove this wall essentially tiled with stone? If I remove the tile will I damage the drywall? What if I get in there and can’t finish?’  Or maybe just, ‘what the heck am I doing?’ I know because it’s how I felt before taking a hammer to my old tile backsplash.  Well I’m here to tell you, YOU CAN DO IT!

It all begins with the right tools and gear. OK ladies (and fellas..I know your reading this), put on your best demo outfits because this can and will get messy.

Let’s get Dirty!

Required Materials

Screwdriver
Plastic sheet (i.e. Painters Drop or large garbage bag)
Masking tape
Sander and sandpaper (Optional)
tools to remove old Tile

Steps

  1. Clear off the countertops.
    (Boy these counters sure are ugly!)
     
  2. Remove the covers from the outlets. And cut the power to the area where you about to the outlets where you are about to remove the tiles.
  3. Take down the microwave and remove the microwave brackets if it’s attached to the wall.  Mark on the wall with a marker where the holes are for reinstalling the bracket for the microwave.
  4. Tile Removal 101: Remove the Tile Backsplash Without Damaging the DrywallUsing the tape and plastic bag, cover the sink.  The last thing you’d want is to get some old ceramic tile caught in your garbage disposal.  To catch falling tile you can also line the countertop with plastic.
  5. Put on your glasses and gloves.  (Is this really a step?!)
  6. Score the 1st tile you plan on starting with using the grout cutter.  Run the gout cutter around the tile edges in the grout area.  Then make and X motion within the tile with the tile cutter.  This will further loosen the tile reducing the chances of you damaging the drywall behind it when you start removing the tile from the wall.taking down tile 2 copy    Tile Removal 101: Remove the Tile Backsplash Without Damaging the Drywall  taking down tile 4 copy 
  7. 6-2Repeat step 6 one more time just to be on the safe side.
  8. Take your hammer and tap the tile (gently) in the middle of the cuts.  Pieces of the tile
    should fall.
  9. Then using the flat head screwdriver and hammer at the corner of the tile or where it’s chipped and chip away at the tile being careful not to dig into the drywall.
  10. Then wedge the scrapper into the gap where the tile fell. With the removal of the one tile keep going under the surrounding tiles gently popping the tile from the wall by prying it from the wall using the scraper and hammer.
  11. Once the tile is down take a 5 in 1 tool and scrapper to remove any excess grout.  This can also be done with the addition of a light sander using fine grade sandpaper.
 
And
And

Products Used

5 in 1 tool     cat's paw     scraper   hammer      safety glasses         grout saw

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38 Comments

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  4. Fantastic tutorial showing how to accomplish this trying feat. It is never easy to remove a tile backsplash and keep your drywall intact. I love that you provide each step as well as listing all the materials used. This will be a very useful resource to use on future projects. Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. Thank you so much! I’ve very happy you found it useful and easy to follow. Please let me know if you have any questions once you get into your project. I’m always willing to assist.

  5. Really, looks awesome. Thanks Timisha! Quite exciting details you have described, thank you for publishing. It’s really an excellent and useful part of details. I am satisfied that you just distributed this useful details with us. Please keep us advised like this. Thanks for discussing.

  6. sorry have tried for several hours without success at getting one tile off. Using a diamond point with my dremel. What now? Followed the instructions to the letter!

    1. Hmmm. Did you use the hammer? The First tile is always the hardest. Sometimes you actually have just hit it really hard with a hammer after you’ve scored it with the tile cutter. Feel free to email me at Info@ToolBoxDivas.com or contact me via Facebook and I we can walk you through it. ~Timisha

  7. Great article! I have a question about the photo in step #4. It shows the OTR Microwave bracket against both the tile and the drywall (above the tile). I would think the tile would bump the bracket out from the drywall, leaving a gap when drilling into the drywall. Can the bracket be mounted even when it isn’t flush all the way around? I mean, since the tile protrudes out from the drywall just a bit?
    Thanks! I’m having an OTR installed soon and I’m worried they won’t be able to install it since my backsplash doesn’t go all the way up the wall.

    1. yes it can be mounted even though it is not flush. In this case the tile is about 1/2″ thick. But you can make it flush by running a 1/2″ or 3/4″ inch board along the drywall area to flatten the surface. This was actually how it was installed prior to me removing the old tiles. That brackets support is actually from the bottom and the microwave is screwed into bolts at the top from the bottom of the hanging cabinets if that makes sense. But After changing the tiles I actually had to change the microwave. The new microwave used a different supporting bracket. That video should be posted to youtube within the next few weeks.

  8. How did you protect the existing cabinets? I am going to start a similar project and we don’t want to remove the cabinets on the wall. Is there something we could do to protect the cabinets from being damaged while surrounding work is on going?

    1. Your cabinets should be fine. When removing the tile it shouldn’t damage the cabinets unless there’s tile on the actual cabinets. You can always use like a 3m painters tape on the cabinet edges to guard against any splashes.

  9. Farentino Payne says:

    Sorry but best way is using a heat gun on low. This will remove tile without removing any paper. Taking off most of the glue also. Drexel the grout lines first.

  10. So glad to have found your website! I have just bought a small apartment and was hoping to do a lot of the renovation work myself. With absolutely zero background in this stuff, I was having second thoughts, but after looking at your website, I think I can do it!! I’m at least gonna give it a try.

    1. Kris congratulations on your new place!! It can be an equally awesome and daunting feeling. But I know you can do it. The most challenging thing about starting any DIY task is the initial fear. Once you move past that, its smooth sailing. Please keep me posted and share pics tagging my on Instagram @ToolboxDivas

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  12. mccartymechanical says:

    Outstanding post I really like itWall Removal service

  13. I just found your blog today. I’m in the process of refinishing my bathroom cabinets. I plan to refinish all the cabinets in my house, including the kitchen. I would love new kitchen cabinets, but that will have to wait until the future. I need to make my space tolerable in the meantime. I have old 4″x4″ tile on my kitchen counter and back splash, I was thinking of regrouting to refresh but after reading about your tiling efforts, I may consider updating the tiles. I can’t imagine digging up the old tile from the counter top and back splash without destroying the walls and counter top underboard. After viewing your blog, I will give it a good long ponder.

  14. Tile backsplash is a common household problem now. Here you have discussed an amazing guideline to remove tile backsplash. You also discussed the required materials to remove backsplash. Thanks for sharing your kind info.

  15. I do not know if it’s just me or if everybody else encountering problems with
    your site. It appears like some of the written text on your content are running off the screen. Can someone else please comment and let me know if this is happening to them too?
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  16. I’m glad you mentioned turning off the power when you take off the backsplash. That way you can avoid any electricity mishaps. I’ll make sure I do that right away.

  17. This is the right website for everyone who wants to find out about this topic.
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    with you (not that I personally will need to…HaHa).
    You certainly put a new spin on a topic which has been discussed
    for many years. Wonderful stuff, just excellent!

  18. Yes, I know this is very difficult to remove the tile backsplash without damaging the drywall. But if we follow some proper guidelines and tools. Then we can do that very easily.

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