Removing tile from a floor generally requires the destruction of at least the first few tiles. If you're removing wall tile, be aware that this process can tear up the sheetrock behind the tile. Always wear eye protection, and consider working with gloves to protect your hands from tile shards.
If you're working on a floor, knee padding of some sort is essential. Long sleeves will also protect you from shards of tile, and a dust mask is essential if you're taking up concrete mortar.
Beyond safety gear, you'll need prying tools and a hammer. It can be tempting to work with an extremely heavy hammer to bust up the tiles, but you'll have an easier time of it if you work with a smaller hammer that's easier for you to control. Small rooms, such as bathrooms, can make swinging a large hammer a challenge.
A chisel of some sort is also essential. Be aware that hitting a chisel with a hammer will generate a lot of vibration and may be rough on your hands, wrists, and forearms. Padded gloves can protect you from this vibration.
Consider investing in a Wonder Bar Pry Bar. These tools give you a short edge for close work and a long edge that will make tile removal quick once you've cleared away enough old tile.
Lastly, you'll need a large, heavy duty trash can to put the tile into. If you're removing an entire tile floor, consider getting a flat-edged shovel to scoop all of the broken tile into the trash can.
Tile removal creates a lot of dust. Mastic and thin set mortar can become pulverized into soft fibers such as upholstery, leaving an unmanageable dust with plenty of cling power.
Similar to drywall dust, it is the kind that gets everywhere in your home... and we mean everywhere! Here are a few tips for preparing your home for the tile removal process:
Depending on your community, the rules about getting rid of demolition trash may allow you to discard tile, box and all.
Know the end goal BEFORE you start removing and replacing any tile. Here are a few great questions to ask yourself:
If the tile you're taking out is set in concrete, be ready to do some scraping to get to a smooth floor.
It's important to have a good idea of what you want before you get started tearing out what you don't want. If you're tearing out a backsplash but want to save the countertop, cover the counter with a layer of plastic to avoid scarring.
Before you can begin pulling tile off the floor, you need to prepare the area. This preparation is key, because you're going to be kicking up a lot of dust when you start demo work. Also, tile removal is messy, and you want to minimize any collateral damage.
Make sure to spend an adequate amount of time preparing. While you're probably ansy to get started on the project, properly preparing will save you a lot of time and hassle down the road.
Depending on how large of a space you're working with, you might have a little or a lot of tile to pull up. The most important thing to keep in mind when removing tile is that you don't want to damage the sub-floor, which sits right below the tile.
Sometimes the hardest part of how to remove tile flooring is making sure you have space to swing your hammer.
If the tile was put down over concrete or onto bare wooden subfloor, you'll need to scrape up the mortar or adhesive. This is typically the case.
Again, be gentle with the subfloor. It can be very fragile, especially after sitting below tile for a long time.
If you're lucky enough to find the tile was put down over an underlayment, you can save yourself some scraping by taking up the underlayment. This is generally a dirty mess.
Have a shop vac standing by so you can keep dust to a minimum. If you don't have a shop vac on hand, you can always make your own DIY dust collector.
If you or your flooring contractor is planning to put down new underlayment, take the time to get your newly exposed subfloor completely smooth. This is dirty work and will take some attention to detail.
However, your new flooring installation will only be as good as the subfloor prep, particularly if you're going back over with a vinyl or plank.
Try your best to get as many of the big pieces up with your hands and throw them in a trash can. A good shop vac will take care of the rest. Don't use your regular household vacuum cleaner for this if you can help it - chances are it will clog up your filter.
Look in the surrounding rooms for signs of dust, which is pretty common. Grab a good floor mop and lightly clean the surrounding rooms. You might need to do a thorough deep cleaning, but hopefully you avoided that!
If you're trying to remove tile from under kitchen or bathroom cabinets, but preserve the cabinetry, then you have an extra complication. You can remove tile flooring while still preserving your cabinets.
The same process for tile remove applies. In addition, though, you will need a very high powered angle grinder with a tile cutting blade. This tool features a cutting edge that allows you to get flush with your cabinet and make the cut.
Place the angle grinder blade flush against the cabinet and slowly cut your tile. This is the best way to remove tile from under cabinets.
Yes, you can remove tiles without breaking them. It isn't guaranteed to work, as the process you go through to pull the tile up might break it. However, with care and patience, you can usually pull the tile up without breaking it.
If you plan to save the tile from your project, please be aware that removing old tile mastic requires some work. You'll want to remove ALL of the grout around the tile before you try to pull it up.
Removing tile is not very difficult, but it does take time. If you're trying to preserve the tile because it is loose, you'll need to take extra steps to ensure you don't break the tile. If you're removing an entire tile floor or backsplash, you have a lot more freedom to move quicker.