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Tips on How to Remove a Tile Floor

Tips on How to Remove a Tile Floor
December 13, 2021

Source: vchal/Shutterstock.com

If you want to do a new flooring job or home renovation, often you need to remove the old tiles before placing the new ones. While removing a tile floor is pretty straightforward, there are several crucial things to keep in mind so you don’t run into any problems.

Even though this isn’t a complicated job, you need to have the appropriate tools and PPE. You don’t need any previous experience to remove a tile floor, but you should prepare to work for a couple of hours, depending on the floor area. Follow these simple tips on how to remove floor tile easily.

1. Prepare the Tools

You can use manual or power tools depending on the size of the job. For small projects, a ball peen hammer and a chisel are enough. If you have to remove a lot of tiles, consider using power tools such as an angle grinder or oscillating tools. If you are thinking of installing a new tile floor, you should invest in a high-quality tile saw and a tile cutter for precision cutting to ensure a professional finish.

You also need some protection equipment, such as gloves, knee pads, safety glasses, and earmuffs, if you are using power tools. You also need basic cleaning tools such as a broom and dustpan and trash bags. A shop vacuum is useful for collecting all the small pieces and dust.

2. Removing the Baseboards Is Helpful

Removing the baseboards at the edge of the wall isn’t necessary, but it makes the tile removal process easier and lets you lift the tiles off whole without damaging the baseboards. These tiles are often adhered extra tight under the baseboards. In this case, you can use a knife to loosen the adhesive between the baseboards and the tile, and then use a screwdriver to pry up the tile.

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However, removing the baseboards makes the process simpler and allows you to reinstall them more easily once you have put in the new tiles. Remove any heavy furniture such as mobile kitchen islands, sofas, or cabinets. Cover HVAC ducts with plastic and painter’s tape to prevent debris from going into the ductwork.

3. Remove Grout Before Tiles

Grout is used between tiles to bond them together during installation. Removing the grout enables you to leverage the tiles neatly out of place, minimizing debris and allowing you to reuse the tiles for other projects.

For small areas of tile floor, use a chisel and ball peen or masonry hammer to tap the pieces of grout until they become loose. However, for large floors, deep grout lines, or heavy tiles, the only option is to use an air chisel or jackhammer. Alternatively, use a rotary tool or grout saw and cut along the edges of the grout until you hit the underlayment.

4. Tile Removal

After removing the grout, you can remove the tiles. Some people hit the tiles with a hammer to break them up. The best way to separate the tile from the mortar underneath is to pry it up with a chisel and a hammer. Place the chisel under the edge of the tile and tap gently with the hammer to lever the tile and separate it from the adhesive underneath.

Most of the time, you can get the whole tile to pop up in one piece. Even if you aren’t working with power tools, you might prefer wearing some earplugs during this project phase because it can be noisy.

removing old floor tiles using a hammer

Source: Nils Petersen/Shutterstock.com

5. Don’t Forget to Remove the Underlayment

As you remove the tiles, place them in a plastic bag to move them out of the way. Clear away the small pieces of tile that are left and start working on the mortar. Now, you need to remove the underlayment. With a hammer and a bricklayer’s chisel, hit the mortar until it breaks. As you loosen the mortar, keep removing it from the floor and repeat the process.

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6. Clean and Check Subfloor Before a New Project

Once you have removed all the tile and underlayment, you need to clean the subfloor and prepare it for laying the new tile. Look for any damage on the floor and uneven or sunken parts. If there’s damage on the subfloor, consider having a professional look at it before installing the new tile.

removing old tiles in a bathroom

Source: HT-Pix/Shutterstock.com

Start Your Home Renovation the Right Way

Removing an old tile floor can be time-consuming. However, you can gauge the complexity of the job by starting with a couple of tiles. You can try using a jackhammer with a chisel or other power tools for tiles that are securely attached to the underlayment. Removing a tile floor is relatively easy, and it’s a great weekend project that can transform the look of your home.

If you are planning a DIY tile removal, visit Contractors Direct and browse our selection of tile and grouting tools and protective equipment to help streamline your home renovation projects.