There are various reasons why a homeowner might wish to attempt a backsplash tile removal project. You, as a homeowner, may be planning a remodel or re-decoration project. Or, your current tile may be cracked, broken, or chipped, and you would like to replace it with new tile. Whatever your reason for removing your existing tile, you should know that this type of project is not simply a matter of breaking up the tile and installing replacement tile. There are tricks you will need to know to avoid creating a bigger problem than you may have anticipated.
Step 1 - Inspect the Tile You Expect to Remove
To remove your old tile without creating damage to the drywall your tile is attached to or to the tile you'll want to leave in place, you'll need to survey the tile. Determine how your backsplash tile interconnects with your countertop tile. Does the tile on both of these surfaces come together evenly? Or does the bottom edge of the bottom backsplash tile have a beveled edge that allows for a curved transition to the countertop tile? Will you be removing both the backsplash tile and the countertop tile? Answers to these questions will help you determine how you will remove your old tile.
Step 2 - Remove the Existing Tile Grout
Do not attempt to remove your tile until you have first removed the grout that holds the tiles together. To do so will likely result in your breaking up tile you may want to keep attached to your wall or countertop. It also will likely damage the drywall to which the tile is attached, meaning you will also need to add drywall repair to your project. Instead, first remove the grout between the tiles you want removed. Chip away the grout with a grout removal tool or a flathead screwdriver, mallet, or hammer.
Step 3 - Remove Your First Backsplash Tile
With all grout removed, begin taking up the tile you want removed from your backsplash. The key in doing this is to work slowly. Use patience in removing the tile so as not to damage tile or drywall. Insert the front edge of a putty knife under the edge of a tile you'll want removed. Insert the knife far enough under the tile, if you can, that when prying it up, you will be less likely to chip or break the tile piece you're removing. The tile will be glued to the drywall. Pry it up gradually until you have it detached from the drywall surface. If you have trouble inserting the putty knife beneath the tile, use a mallet or hammer to tap the knife's handle tip, driving the knife beneath the tile.
Step 4 - Remove Additional Tile Rows
Continue removing tiles in a single row that are attached to the wall. When finished with the first row, begin another row, using this same removal process. Continue removing each tile row until you have all your tiles removed.