Am I quite possibly the most boring person ever that I am devoting an entire blog post to how to remove a glass tile backsplash? Yes. Yes I am. But that’s not new news. And really, the world needs to know what I know now: the best way to avoid glass shards shooting into your face as you decimate your hideous glass tile. This process involves two words that I quite possibly haven’t used since 7th grade: leverage and fulcrum (but I use “decimate” all the time – ha).
After we picked out our kitchen appliances, I figured it would be a great time to do things like finish demo so we could one day have a functioning kitchen. I had been dreading removing our tile backsplash but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected once I figured out my own technique. I tried out a bunch of things, but instead of making an already fairly boring topic even more boring, I’ll just tell you what you need to know. You’ll need these 5 things:
For you non-visual learners (do those people exist in this internet/smartphone age??), you’ll need a big flathead screwdriver, a hammer, a scraper-thing, gloves, eye protection, and maybe a towel to protect nearby areas from flying glass shards.
The goal when removing a backsplash is to remove the tile while keeping most of the drywall underneath. The tile likely is attached to the drywall with mastic, so it is best to peel off the paper of the drywall only and leave the rest. Sometimes you can’t help but tear out a big chunk of the wall, especially if you get impatient like me, but if there are only a few of those you are doing a-okay.
My best technique for tile backsplash removal is first to hammer your screwdriver into the grout between two tiles.
Then gently use the screwdriver as a lever and the neighboring tile as a fulcrum (am I even getting these science terms right? seventh grade was so long ago…) by pulling the screwdriver toward one side so that it starts to pop off the neighboring tile. Basically, move your screwdriver handle to the right if you want to take off your left tile. Leverage. Fulcrum.
You may get some cracked glass, but for me the vast majority of the tiles came off in one piece when I used this technique. Where I didn’t pop off the entire tile with that method, I used my other scraper to hammer under the remaining portions of the tile and remove it that way. Then for any leftover grout or mastic, use the scraper again (with hammer where necessary) to scrape everything off the wall.
I did this for both the area above our old counter and our sink, and even did it behind our sink faucet without too much trouble.
The clean-up may be the worst part because tiny pieces of glass inevitably get all around your work area. Limit it by covering neighboring areas with a towel and putting boxes (I used box lids) under your work area to catch your tiles and glass. Then I used a shop-vac and lots more vacuuming to get every little piece. What’s left isn’t pretty, but it is one step closer to finishing our walls…
So tell me, when’s the last time you used the words leverage and fulcrum. Or what’s your special trick to removing an ugly old backsplash? Love to hear!