When one thinks of kitchen renovations, the first tasks that come to mind concern the big-ticket items: Replacing the cabinets; re-doing the flooring; modernizing the lighting; buying new appliances and so on. One task that is less apparent, but that makes a huge difference in the overall effect of the finished product, is the backsplash. The backsplash is aptly named because it is the area behind the sink that is so often subject to splashing during dishwashing and other sink-related tasks. It is a vital part of every kitchen that cannot be overlooked.
There are several reasons that you may wish to replace your kitchen’s existing backsplash during a renovation. The most obvious reason is that your current backsplash may be dated, or may not work with the concept of the more modern kitchen you plan on creating. Your backsplash may also be compromised in some way, either through cracks in the tile or laminate, water damage behind those materials, or both. The first step to installing a new backsplash is removing the old one while incurring as little damage as possible to the surrounding environment.
Backsplash removal is a fairly straightforward task that can easily be executed without having to hire a contractor. The trick is to carefully evaluate the specific situation before beginning any work. First, identify the material from which your backsplash is made. The most common materials are tile and plastic laminate (Formica countertop material).
Removing a Tile Backsplash
It is important to note that during all stages of tile backsplash removal, protective eye gear should be worn. Some individuals make the mistake of immediately attempting to crack the tile. Fast-tracking to this step can result in unnecessary damage to the wall’s foundation, and to surrounding areas. In addition, if you hope to save any of the old tiles for future projects, you would be well advised to approach the task carefully and thoughtfully. First, be sure to cover all exposed surfaces surrounding the backsplash area. Begin by carefully removing the grout that surrounds each individual tile. This step may be accomplished with the help of a grout remover, either applied manually or used as a drill tip attachment. Once all exposed grout has been removed, the tiles should detach relatively easily, with some gentle leverage. Insert a putty knife behind the tile, with the help of a few gentle taps of a hammer. If this lever technique does not work, you may have to resort to gently tapping the middle of the tile to create several smaller pieces.
Removing a Laminate Backsplash
Begin by cutting any existing caulking that attaches the backsplash to the countertop. Also check to see whether or not the laminate has been attached to the counter’s lip with screws, since they would have to be removed before proceeding to the next step. Once all visible adhesives have been removed, proceed as you would with tiles, by gently inserting a flat putty knife behind the laminate sheet and prying it away from the foundation.
Even the most careful backsplash removal jobs will result in some degree of damage to the underlying wall, especially if it is made of drywall. Depending upon the degree of damage, you may be able to get away with simply patching uneven areas before installing your new backsplash.