How to Fix Walls in the Kitchen After Removing Tile

Updated November 21, 2016

Once you've removed your tile from the kitchen wall, you are left with bumpy walls full of crumbly old mastic, torn sheet rock, or nicked plaster. Removing the muck and smoothing the walls is a necessary step toward getting the walls you want in your kitchen. The job takes at least two days but is not especially difficult with the right equipment and materials. Chemical mastic remover, available at home improvement stores, is a must-have product for the job.

Shut off the gas line to the stove if the stove is still in the room. Cover each appliance with a vinyl tarp to protect it from damage. Open the windows or position fans in the room to ventilate the kitchen.

Brush away and vacuum up the loose debris that fell to the floor and counter tops during tile removal. Scrape the walls vigorously with a wide putty knife. Begin at the top and scrape all the way down to the floor or the tops of the counters where the tile was. Remove the dust and debris.

Open the mastic remover and apply as directed to a small area of the kitchen wall. Observe how the product works on the wall before you apply it to a large area. Let it remain on the wall for the suggested time.

Apply mastic remover to the wall. Put it on any thick clumps of mastic first to let it work through. Work only one section at a time so the product will not dry out on the wall. Scrape the old mastic off the wall with the putty knife when the remover has had a chance to work.

Remove the debris. Dispose of it safely because it can be flammable. Let the wall dry. Wipe it down with a damp cloth. Cover countertops with vinyl tarp. Apply wall-filler product to any cracks, dips, nicks or small holes in the wall. Let it dry overnight.

Sand the filled areas with a sanding block, making sure no patches stick out from the wall. Shake out the dust from the vinyl tarps that cover the counters. Replace the tarps over the counters. Wash down the wall with a mild solution of soap and water. Dip clean cloths into the solution and roll them down the wall from the top to remove all dust from the sanding. Let the wall dry.

Examine the wall for smoothness. All mastic, dust and debris must be gone. Open the stain sealer. Pour some of it into the paint tray. Apply a thin coat of the stain sealer on with a 1/4-inch-nap roller. Let it dry thoroughly.

Place a small amount of all-purpose joint compound into a clean bucket. Add water until it's the consistency of pancake batter. Roll the diluted compound onto the wall with the 1/2-inch-nap roller. Work one small area of the wall at a time. Mix small batches of this diluted joint compound to skim coat the entire wall. Use the same proportion of compound to water for each batch. Work quickly so compound does not set while you are working.

Smooth the skim coat with a squeegee, making sure the skim coat is smooth and covers the entire wall. Let it dry and then paint the wall.

Things You'll Need

  • Vinyl tarps
  • Stiff brush
  • Vacuum
  • Putty knife
  • Mastic remover
  • Damp cloth
  • Wall filler
  • Sanding block
  • Soap and water
  • Stain sealer
  • Paint tray
  • Roller with 1/4-inch nap
  • Joint compound
  • Bucket
  • Roller with 1/2-inch nap
  • Squeegee
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About the Author

Roz Calvert was a contributing writer for the award-winning ezine Urban Desires where her travel writing and fiction appeared. Writing professionally since 1980, she has penned promotional collateral for Music Magnet Media and various musicians. The "Now Jazz Consortium" published her jazz educational fiction. She published a juvenile book about Zora Neale Hurston and attended West Virginia University and the New School.