sealing particle board before applying ceramic backsplash tiles?

under our old back splash, we discovered that particle board had been used in the construction of the bar behind the sink. Water had wicked up and cause the old grout (caulk?)
line where the backsplash meets the counter to mildew. Now we are installing new granite countertops and subway tile backsplash. We can’t remove the particle board without tearing out the entire bar. Can we seal the particle board which is still in good condition somehow and then tile?

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