How to Remove Tile Countertop and Prep for Quartz Countertops

Installing new quartz countertops can significantly upgrade the look and feel of your kitchen. However, before the new countertops can be installed, you need to properly remove the existing tile countertop and prepare the underlying surface. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to remove a tile countertop and prep the area for new quartz countertops.

Supplies Needed

  • Hammer
  • Chisel
  • Pry bar
  • Safety glasses
  • Work gloves
  • Dust mask
  • Shop vacuum

Step 1: Clear Countertop Area

Before starting demolition, make sure to clear everything off the countertops. Remove any items on the counters or hung underneath them. Have a clean working surface to avoid breaking any personal belongings.

Step 2: Score Grout Lines with Utility Knife

Use a sharp utility knife to score along the grout lines between the tiles. This will help weaken the grout so the tiles can be removed easier. Apply firm but controlled pressure while scoring to cut through the grout but not damage the underlying surface.

Step 3: Remove Wall Tile First

Start removel process by taking down the section of wall tile first before attempting to remove the countertop tile. Carefully pry the wall tile away using a pry bar or chisel. Work slowly and gently to avoid damaging the wall behind the tile.

Step 4: Hammer Tiles to Break Adhesive Grip

With the grout lines scored and wall tile removed, use a hammer and chisel to break the adhesive grip holding down the countertop tiles. Carefully chip away at corners and edges, working your way across the surface. Apply controlled force to avoid damaging substrate.

Step 5: Pry Up Tiles

Once tiles are loosened from the adhesive, use a pry bar to gently lift and remove the tiles from the countertop. Slide the pry bar under each tile and use leverage to pop it off. Remove all debris as you work across the surface.

Step 6: Clean Surface

With all old tile removed, thoroughly clean the countertop surface. Use a shop vacuum to remove all debris, dirt and old adhesive. A putty knife can help scrape off any remaining adhesive residue.

Step 7: Make Any Repairs

Inspect the surface for any damage that may need repairing prior to installation of new countertops. Use patching compounds or modifiers as needed to fix minor holes, divots or uneven areas.

Step 8: Prepare Substrate for New Countertops

Once the surface is cleaned, repaired and prepped, you can begin the installation process for the new quartz countertops. Ensure the underlayment is smooth, level and clean. Follow all instructions from the countertop manufacturer.

Properly removing the tile countertop and prepping the surface takes time and care. Rushing through demolition or prep work can damage the underlying surface, causing installation problems for the new quartz countertops. With the right tools and techniques, you can successfully remove tile and get your kitchen ready for a quartz countertop upgrade.

Frequently Asked Questions

What tools do I need to remove a tile countertop?

You’ll need a hammer, chisel, pry bar, utility knife, safety glasses, work gloves and a shop vacuum. The hammer, chisel and pry bar help break up the tile and adhesive while the utility knife scores the grout lines. Safety gear protects you during demo.

How do I keep the underlying surface intact?

Work slowly and carefully when breaking up tiles. Contolled force is key. Score grout lines before hammering and prying to protect the surface below the tile. Stop if you encounter subfloor damage and repair before moving on.

What’s the easiest way to remove old tile adhesive?

Scraping with a putty knife works for small amounts. For heavy adhesive residue, use a grinder with a wire wheel or sanding disc. Chemical adhesive removers also work, but follow directions closely.

Can new countertops be installed over old tile?

It’s not recommended. Old tile provides an uneven base which leads to problems. All tile adhesive and grout should be removed down to the smooth subsurface before installing new countertops.

How do I prep the countertop surface for new quartz?

Ensure it’s clean, smooth and level. Fill any divots with patching compounds. Some quartz may require applying a sealer or primer before installation can begin. Always follow manufacturer’s instructions.

What’s the most important step when prepping for new countertops?

Making sure you have a perfectly level, smooth substrate is critical. Quartz countertops need a flawless base in order to install properly and have a seamless look. Take time to correctly prep the surface.


Removing old tile countertops while protecting the underlying surface takes time and care. Break tiles slowly and gently using proper tools. Thoroughly clean all debris and adhesive off the substrate before installing new countertops. Prepping provides the clean, smooth, sturdy base needed for flawless quartz countertop installation. Follow these steps closely for a successful upgrade project.