Tile Removal

There are many reasons you might need to remove a single or even multiple tiles. The good news is you don’t need to pay someone else to do it for you. While it might require a little “elbow grease,” tile removal is a very simple DIY repair that any homeowner can do themselves.

Step 1: The Most Important Step

The most important step in floor tile removal, wall tile removal, or any type of tile removal is making a proper diagnosis of why the tile needs to be removed in the first place. Doing this can save you a lot of time as well as money, because the reason for removing your tile will help you determine whether you need to remove a single tile, a few tiles, or possibly all the tiles.

The most common reasons to remove and replace tiles are typically: water damage to the substrate (what the tile is bonded to), improper installation, not enough backing on the tile to keep in place, dropping a heavy object on the tile causing it to crack or break, and normal wear and tear.

Typically if there is no water damage to a larger number of tiles you will only need to remove the affected tile or tiles making it an easy task. If there is water damage to a large area of tiles you will have to remove all the tiles but that too is manageable.

Step 2: Gather Your Tile Removal Tools

For this project you will only need a few tools and you probably have them in your house or tool box already. These are: safety glasses, work gloves, a hammer, a chisel, and a utility knife. While many people tend to not use safety glasses, they are always a smart idea when working with tiles. Pieces of tile can be extremely sharp and while the odds of having one hit you in the eye are very low, it’s better to be safe than sorry especially when your eyes are concerned.

The edges of tiles can whether broken or not can be razor sharp so it’s always a good idea to wear heavy work gloves when handling them as well. They should definitely be used when removing a large number of tiles.

Tile Removal


 Step 3: Remove The Tile Grout

Using your utility knife, cut out all of the grout around the tile you are going to remove. If you are removing multiple tiles that are next to each other you only need to cut around the perimeter of the tiles you are removing, not around each individual tile. The goal is to have no grout connecting the tiles which will be removed to the remaining tiles because if they are connected they are at risk to break during the removal process.

Step 4:  Break The Tile

Place the tip of your chisel on the tile you are planning to remove so it is perpendicular to the tile, and using your hammer, hit the base of the chisel. The goal is to break the tile and remove it in small pieces. To do this, it’s best to hit the chisel in a sharp short blow as opposed to extremely hard and powerful. Some tiles may need a few hits in order to break them up and remove them.

Step 5: Touch Up the Area

The last step in tile removal is to touch up the area you removed the tile from. This means using your utility knife to remove the entire adhesive that is still remaining on the setting bed that the tile was attached to. This is very important because if it is not removed and the new tile is set in place it will be higher up than the rest of the tiles. You also need to use your knife to remove any remaining grout on the adjacent tiles giving them a clean edge for when new grout is applied.

Tile Removal

As you can see, tile removal is an extremely easy task. State the reason the tile must be removed in order to help you decide how many tiles need to be removed, gather your tools, remove the grout, break the tile, and then touch up the area in preparation for installing the new tile.

Extra Tile Removal Tips:

-When breaking tiles a two hit approach can help you to do so faster. Hitting the tile first perpendicular but then at an angle on the second blow can help you to be able to get under the tile and able to pry it out with you chisel.

-Always try to use the same brand of tile adhesive that was used when the tiles were originally installed. If you’re not sure or can’t remember try to use the same type of tile adhesive like thinset adhesive or organic mastic.

Tile Removal

-When removing a large number of tiles or tiles with very wide grout lines, try using a tile grinder for even faster grout removal.

-Keep an eye out when cleaning or maintaining tiles for degrading grout, cracks, and loose tiles, so that these small and inexpensive problems don’t end up turning much bigger and much more expensive. Because tile removal is such an easy task many people tend to leave it for another day and end up having to remove many more tiles than they would have had to originally, especially in cases where water damage has occurred to the substrate below the tiles. This can easily happen in places such as the bathroom where water can easily enter into small cracks or deteriorating grout.

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