PROVEN: 7 Step Guide on How to Remove Tile Countertops

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Last updated: April 19, 2023

Learning how to remove tile countertops is, most of the time, an easy task that you can do on your own. It only involves a few steps: checking your old countertop, lining the area with newspaper or tarps, removing the cabinet drawers and doors, dealing with the grout, dismantling the wonder board or plywood, cleaning the site, and assessing a possible new design.

Continue reading to learn about my suggested steps.

Table of Contents

How to remove tile countertops easily

Tiles are always a beloved choice that can add a unique and chic style to any home. Sooner or later, however, these materials will become damaged or dated; in most cases, it will be time to remove and replace them.

I discovered that removing tiles from countertops tends to be messy but is still relatively easy. The easiest way to carry out the project is to examine how the tiles are attached to your countertop.

I also opened the cabinets to check how my countertop is attached to the cabinet and if the tiles are attached to any wallboard or plaster. Doing this will help you determine the best and easiest removal method.

Modern Kitchen with brown granite tile countertop on a kitchen island

Tools and materials needed to remove tile countertops

While the process of tile removal may seem too complex, I was surprised to learn that you don’t need a lot of materials and tools to do so.

It would help if you had the following:

  • Hammer
  • Pipe wrench
  • Pry bar
  • Putty knife
  • Sponge

Precautions for removing tile countertop

After you have prepared the tools and materials you’ll need, it’s time to learn a few necessary precautions to remember to stay safe during the process.

Turn off the water and electricity

Start by shutting off the water in your sink. I also unfastened the faucet and used a pipe wrench to drain it. Unscrew the sink from the bottom to un-mount it. Don’t forget to turn off the electricity to all your kitchen appliances and move them out of the way. 

Wear safety gear and equipment

Due to the sharp edges of broken tiles, I recommend wearing protective eyewear and clothing to avoid unwanted injuries.

Prepare and protect the surrounding area

Cover the surrounding area with a protective covering while working on your countertop. I also remove the drawers from my base cabinets to ensure debris and dust don’t get into them.

Observe proper disposal

You can’t just throw away those old tiles after removing them, which may harm animals and your surroundings. Keep these in the dust bin or dispose of them properly in a bag.

How much does it cost to remove tile countertop

Removing a tile countertop costs $2.80 to $5.65 for every square foot, with an average price of $4.15 per square foot for professional tile removal.

But if you are a DIY fan like me, the process will cost you less than $1 to $2 per square foot, depending on the tools you rent or buy, the debris and tile disposal cost, and the overall size of the job.

two mugs on a ceramic mosaic tile countertop

Step-By-Step guide to removing tile countertops

Let me share the steps you need to follow to remove your tile countertops that I learned from one of my friends.

1. Check your old countertop

Inspect the installation of the old countertop. Check the placement of the tiles and how they meet with the walls. Evaluate how your kitchen cabinets and countertop were attached and what material was used.

2. Use newspaper or tarps to line the area

Your floor may get damaged when dismantling your tile countertop because of the impact of falling debris. I suggest lining the area with old tarpaulins (think IKEA bag material in blue;-)), newspapers, or blankets that can absorb this impact instead.

3. Remove the cabinet doors and drawers

The clear coats or paint of your kitchen cabinet, drawers, and doors may sustain scratches once they come into contact with hard materials, so be sure to remove them and keep them protected from falling debris.

4. Tackle the grout

Remove the tiles starting from the edge of your counter. Scrape off the grout to remove the trim tiles on the edges. Once you remove the ground, carefully chisel off the trim tiles. Hammer on the chisel a bit to remove the trim tiles.

Proceed with removing grout on the entire surface. You can use a small utility knife or chisel to dig deeper into the grout. Chisel off the tiles one row at a time one by one. Be careful when doing this, especially to the tiles closest to the kitchen walls, to avoid dents and scratches on your wall.

5. Dismantle the wonder board or plywood

It’s standard for countertops to have a wonder board or plywood layer under the grout. If yours has one, check how it was attached to your counter. Screws, nails, or adhesives might have been used. Sometimes, nothing holds these layers together aside from the adhesive grout and the tiles’ weight. If this is the case, you won’t have difficulty removing the coating.

6. Clean the area

Once you’ve removed all the grout, tiles, and extra layers, use a broom to dust the area and get rid of the pieces of tiles and grout.

7. Assess the potential design

Once your counter is completely bald, you can choose the new style you want or use a different material.

Portion of a ceramic tile countertop

Alternatives to Removing Tile Countertops

If removing your tile countertop seems too daunting, there are other more accessible alternatives you can try instead.


Resurfacing is a low-budget approach that gives your current tiles a new and fresh appearance. You only need to use paint specifically designed for tiles to achieve a uniform color or experiment with other patterns.


Refinishing is another green alternative that can help you save a lot of money and time compared to removing your old tile countertops and installing new ones. The process is not only more affordable, but it is also faster and less of a hassle, usually done after just a day or two.

Install Tiles Over Existing Ones

Yes, you can install new tiles directly on top of your old ones, as long as they are stable and flat enough to ensure the new tiles don’t crack. If your countertop still has room for a small additional thickness, you can begin with a layer of ¼ inch cement board, glue it to your countertop, and then lay the new tile on top of it.

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