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How To Remove Ceramic Tile

Updated on January 25, 2012
Removing tile from floors allows you to install a new floor.
Removing tile from floors allows you to install a new floor. | Source

Ceramic tile is a strong, durable and long lasting floor covering making them a popular choice in a home. Ceramic floor tiles are available in a wide range of patterns, sizes, colors and prices making them fit well into any redecorating budget and any home décor theme. High traffic areas typically wear and ceramic tiles begin to look old and dingy. Impacts from dropping heavy items on the tiles can cause the tiles to crack, break or chip – again detracting from the beauty of the house. Some ceramic tiles looked beautiful, stylish and trendy – in 1978. Many homeowners choose to remove existing ceramic tile floors and install a new floor covering when the tiles look dated. Whatever your redecorating reason, the old tiles need to come up to make room for the new.

Removing Old Ceramic Tile

Remove furniture and other items from the room. If the pieces cannot be moved from the room such as a toilet or porcelain sink, cover them with a heavy drop cloth or cardboard and tape it up tightly to protect them from flying pieces of tile.

Open a few windows, put on safety goggles – not glasses – a pair of heavy canvas or leather work gloves and a dust mask.

Begin in the middle of the room; it doesn’t have to be the exact center, just somewhere near the middle.

Hold a masonry cold chisel with the tip of the chisel touching the middle of one tile somewhere near the center of the room.

Hit the end of the chisel with a hammer to break the ceramic tile. If the tile doesn’t break or at least crack, hit it again.

Move the chisel over to an adjacent tile and hit it again with a hammer to break the tile.

Pick up the broken pieces by hand and throw them away.

Put the end of a flat pry bar on the subflooring, touching abutting tile. Hold the pry bar at a low angle and hit the end of it with a hammer to pop the tile off the subfloor.

Pick up the popped and broken tile pieces and throw them away.

If the room is small, continue to place the flat pry bar on the subfloor, on the edge of abutting tiles, hitting with a hammer and then picking up the loose tile and broken pieces to throw away.

If the room is large, place a floor scraper or coal shovel on the subfloor, touching the adjacent tiles, at a low angle to the floor. Push forcefully on the handle of the floor scraper or the coal shovel to pop and break the tiles. If they do not break, strike the handle of the scraper or shovel with a 10 pound masonry hammer.

Remove the loose and broken tile pieces as you break them off the floor.

Continue to remove the ceramic tiles until no ceramic tiles cover the floor.


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