Demoing our Backsplash Tile (a.k.a. My Walls are Swiss Cheese)

This post should probably actually be titled “DIY: It’s Not a Glamorous Life.” I’m long overdue for an update on my DIY efforts to remove our old kitchen backsplash and replace it with fresh, white subway tile. So, guess who’s back? Back again. Me, with a kitchen update. 🙂

Remember these inspirational photos? Yeah, I pretty much pray to these every night.

I quickly shared a few photos on Facebook as we started to demo the existing tile. Spoiler, it didn’t go super well. What I thought (hoped? naively wished?) would be a couple of weekends has stretched into a couple of months, and the end isn’t in sight quite yet. I was obviously stalled by a week-long vacation and seeking some contractor estimates to fix our drywall issues. And some weekends just haven’t really wanted to think about doing the project. But it’s getting hard to look at a destroyed wall 30 times a day.

Our current daily view. (Repeat to self: This is worth it, our kitchen will look great one day, this is worth it, you can live with the chaos for a few weeks…)
As we started prying the tiles off our walls (and boy were those suckers ADHERED) we started taking drywall with it. Not small bits, but, like, fist-sized chunks in some places and cantaloupe-sized chunks in others.

After the first chunk came out, I seriously considered stopping right then and there and calling someone in. For whatever reason, we decided to just keep at it, carefully, and see how far we could get before major damage happened (read: full-on breaking through the wall).

For about four hours split between two people working at the same time, and many broken fingernails later on my part, we had all the tile removed, and those large missing chunks I mentioned. Luckily, it wasn’t the worst thing I’d ever seen… it felt like there was some hope to just replace a few drywall sections.


Calling in a pro, he actually said it could be repaired with joint compound alone, which honestly surprised me. So, behold, good news! We didn’t need to rip everything out! But, alas, money. Doing this ourselves was definitely going to be the most cost effective.

After some research (also, asking our extremely knowledgeable neighbor), we figured out what tools and supplies to bring in and get started. Over the past few weeks, when we find time on the weekends, we go through and apply joint compound to all of the holes and have slowly been building them up, layer by layer.


Once we finish that, we can sand and then apply thin, even layers across the entire backsplash wall area in order to recreate a flat, finished wall. No lie: that part’s gonna suck. It’ll involve so much sanding, I don’t even want to think about where the dust will end up. We’ll tape off the whole kitchen, but fine dust has a nasty habit of spreading to all corners of your home no matter how hard you try to contain it, so we’ll see.

With the power of the DIY gods behind us, we just might finish the repairs in the next week or so, and can then start the fun(?) part — laying our tile!

Pray to the Tile Gods with me.


3 thoughts on “Demoing our Backsplash Tile (a.k.a. My Walls are Swiss Cheese)

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