How to remove backsplash tile and replace drywall – ORC Week 2

how to remove backsplash tile and repair drywall

Well, folks. It’s week 2 and I have to say I’m already feeling the pressure. Our eclectic master bathroom revamp is underway but it feels like we haven’t made much progress. Here’s the plan if you missed last week’s post. Take a look at that pretty before you see the ugly that happened this week when we learned how to remove backsplash tile and replace drywall.

Make sure you take some time to go look at the progress of all of the participants over on the One Room Challenge site. I think seeing the process of design and remodel really brings things back down to reality. This isn’t like a home show where you don’t always see the nitty gritty and the “oops” moments.

If you’re new here, welcome! I’m so glad to have you here to be a part of this little journey I’m on to continue making houses into homes. You can learn more here about Rufus & Henrietta and me in general.

So back to the master bathroom. One of the first things we needed to do was remove backsplash tile as we will be replacing the boring old travertine with some really pretty white subway that looks handmade.

removing tile

What You’ll Need to Remove Tile:

  • Prybar
  • Putty knife
  • Rubber mallet
  • Optional but highly recommended: a stiff drink
replacing backsplash

As you can see, we had quite the array of tools but the ones listed above did the trick most efficiently. Ok, here’s my disclaimer. If you are removing stone tiles like we were and you are able to not break into the drywall, I will choreograph a customized jig to celebrate you. I honestly don’t think there is a way around it.

We started off being extremely careful and then soon realized, there was no going back. To start chipping away at the tile, we began with the prybar and rubber mallet. Start chipping away at the grout lines, beginning with the tiles at the end. Then, using your putty knife and rubber mallet, you can get further behind the tile and also break the caulk lines.

removing backsplash tile

You want to be somewhat careful, but you’ll likely soon realize that the thin set used to install this stone tile is so strong, you’ll hulk the drywall right out with the tile. Once all of the tile is removed, unscrew any exposed drywall screws.

broken drywall

Just look at that picture …. ahhhh … I know you just took a deep sigh of … Are you kidding me? This is when I went to full panic mode. But not to worry, I did a little research and soon felt ok about this disastrous state of our bathroom. So now, the tiles are gone and the screws are removed. Next, we’ll talk about repairing the drywall.

In this situation, you can see it was beyond just a simple patch job. We had to pull out the big guns for this project.

What You’ll Need to Replace Drywall:

  • 2′ x 2′ drywall pieces (unless you want a gigantic 8′ or 12′ piece)
  • Heavy duty box cutter
  • Pencil
  • Chisel
  • Rubber mallet
  • Straight edge / yard stick
  • Drill (impact driver recommended)
  • 1 1/4″ screws

So now we have to clean this mess up a little to work on giving us a fresh new start with some new drywall. Try to remove as much of the debris as you can from the tile removal.

Next, draw a line with a pencil for where you’d like your clean cut to be. Keep in mind that you want to make the cut large enough to reach a stud on both sides. This could mean you have to cut further than you’d initially planned, but you need the studs to screw in the drywall. Without that, you would have drywall just floating there and whatever tile/pictures/etc. you hang on the wall in the future could fall right off.

broken drywall

Once you have your straight pencil guide on the wall, you can start to chip away at the drywall. I found it easier to score along the line with the box knife first.

removing drywall

Once it was scored, I came back in with the chisel and rubber mallet. Our chisels have one side that is flat and one side that is beveled. The flat side, you wall want to keep on the outside of your hole to make as clean of a break as possible.

cutting drywall

Slowly chisel around your clean line and then work your way inward as you remove the old drywall. After that’s all removed, enjoy a sip of that drink because things are starting to look up.

drywall behind backsplash

Now to start putting up the new drywall. You will want to cut the new pieces so they will fit over half of the exposed studs. So if you have two pieces, you want to make sure they meet at the center of the stud so you can screw both pieces in securely.

To cut the drywall, first measure twice and then make a straight pencil line. Score along that line with a box knife.

how to cut drywall

Then, stand the drywall up and lightly make a cut through to the other side, cutting the backing paper as you go. Do this on each side. I found it was easier to make a clean break if I scored on both sides. If I didn’t score the back, the paper started to pull off and the drywall became harder to work with and weaker.

scoring drywall

Once both sides are scored, you should be able to bend up the piece you are cutting and it will snap at the line you scored.

To make sure you have a tight fit to the wall, you might have to clean up some edges with either the chisel or the box knife. Screw the new pieces to the studs and there you have it.

how to remove backsplash tile and replace drywall

There are still a lot of to-dos on our list but at least we’re making headway. Next week, we’ll discuss mudding and whatever else will come with the next steps in our plan. Cheers to not having holes in the wall anymore!

(Update: You can see the reveal here)

Happy Creating!

And in case you need something pretty to look at:

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