How to Remove Ceramic Tiles [Full Guide]

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How to Remove Ceramic Tiles [Full Guide]

Using professional services for tile removal can be costly and the personal touch you would want to give to your house will be lost. Now, removing ceramic tiles on your own is fun and easy, so save some money and enjoy renovating your house!

Apart from floors, ceramic tiles have also been used on walls and countertops. Removing the tiles from the walls might be a little difficult, but it’s not an impossible DIY project.


  • Wear protective eyewear, gloves, and masks while removing the tiles.
  • Assemble the proper equipment before you start removing ceramic tiles.
  • Keep the space as clean as possible and dispose of all broken bits and pieces to avoid any accident.
  • Start from the edge of the floor and remove the grout first, before moving on to loosening the ceramic tiles.
  • Remove the mortar as much as possible and sand the floor before installing the new tiles.
  • If you are replacing old and damaged ceramic tiles with new ones, then make sure to check the properties of the tiles before buying.
  • Follow all the steps in the removal method to get the job done easily and without any problems.

What Tools Should You Use to Remove Ceramic Tiles?

Given below are the tools you will need to remove ceramic tiles. These will make sure that you can remove the old tiles safely and with ease.

  • Shovel – When a tile is stuck and cannot be removed, you can use a shovel to pry it out. Shovels are also necessary to collect large particles of broken tiles and throw them away.
  • Hammers – Hammers are needed to break old tiles. Use heavy-duty hammers to easily break the tiles and remove them. Hammers are important especially when you are removing ceramic tiles from a large space and need to break them up quickly.
  • Work gloves – You should always wear protective gloves while removing ceramic tiles. Working with heavy tools like masonry hammers or floor scrapers can cause calluses.

Work gloves like those from EvridWear are suitable for construction work and will improve your grip while removing the ceramic tiles. 

  • Floor scraper – Make sure to use a long handle floor scraper whenever you are removing tiles. It is easier to put pressure on the ceramic tiles and scrape them out.

The ABN floor scraper tool is suitable for removing the thin-set and ceramic tiles without causing any damage to the subfloor. 

  • Masonry chisel – Use a masonry chisel to loosen the tile pieces so that they can be removed easily. A masonry chisel can be used to remove the tile pieces from corners. You can also use a masonry chisel while removing the grout.
  • Face and eye protection – Breaking up the old tiles and removing grout will expose you to dust and dirt. Small chips of tile can even hurt your eyes. So wear safety goggles and masks.

You should also keep a broom and some trash bags near. Clean up your workspace as soon as you finish and cover the floor with some plastic sheets.

Remove Ceramic Tiles on Your Own

If you are not sure about how to remove ceramic tiles, there is no need to worry. With the right equipment, removing ceramic tiles can be a DIY project! Follow the steps below to remove old tiles easily.

Step 1: Remove Old Grout

To remove the old grout, you have to loosen the pieces. Use a masonry hammer and chisel to do this.

If you are removing grout from a large space, use a power tool as a grout saw. It will cut through the tiles and remove grout. Pick up the larger pieces and use a vacuum cleaner for the smaller particles to clean the space.

Step 2: Loosen and Separate the Tiles

The ceramic tiles need to be separated from the mortar below. Use a straightedge with a scoring tool to score diagonally and cut at least an inch deep. Once the tile breaks, scrap the broken parts and remove them from the mortar.

Step 3: Remove the Old Mortar

The old mortar can be removed with a hammer and a chisel. Keep tapping the old mortar till it breaks and you are able to separate the pieces. If certain pieces stay attached, sand the space so that the new thin-set can be installed.

Step 4: Replace the Subfloor

It is important to stay safe while removing ceramic tiles. Wear protective clothing and use all heavy-duty tools carefully.

After removing the old ceramic tiles, the subfloor might appear damaged. This will make it difficult for you to install the new tiles.

So, you should cut up the damaged areas and replace them. Use a circular saw with a carbide blade to cut the damaged subfloor. Use a pry bar to loosen the subfloor and remove it.

Replace it with a new subfloor. If you are not able to install the new subfloor on your own, you can hire professional services.

Tips to Remove Ceramic Tiles Easily

Removing ceramic tile is an easy job, but there are certain technicalities that you should be aware of. It is always wise to do research and have a set of steps ready.

You should know things like whether the tile is attached to bare cement, plywood, or mason board before removing the tiles. Some important tips have been listed below.

  • Use a floor scraper – It doesn’t matter how carefully you remove the tiles, some amount of dust, dirt, and chips are bound to stay inside the gaps where the tiles have been removed. Thus, using a floor scraper to remove all those pieces is a must.

If you don’t use a floor scraper, the fragments of the previous tiling will stay. It will be difficult to place the new elements, whatever you decide on.

  • Start at the edge of the floor – Never try to start from the middle. Always choose an edge where you can get maximum exposure and start removing the tiles slowly.

It is also important that you remove any and all fixtures there on the respective floor before you start.

  • Use a hammer and chisel to remove grout – Using a set of hammers and chisels is the best way to remove ceramic tiles if you are doing it yourself. This is because the chisels can be used to pull up the tiles easily and hammering the chisels in that position will take out whole tiles all at once, without causing any damage to the original floor.
  • Layer Cement Sheets before Placing the New Tile – Once you have successfully removed the ceramic tiles, you also have to prepare the floor for future tiling. You should layer the bare floor with cement sheets before moving forward. This will give the extra layer of protection and stability for the new tiles to be placed.

You would not want to mess up your floor while removing the tiles. Thus, it is safe to be a little “textbook” about technical jobs like this by following the aforementioned steps.

What Properties Should You Check Before Buying New Ceramic Tiles?

When you decide to remove old ceramic tiles and install new ones, check the quality of the tiles you buy. Good quality ceramic tiles will have the following properties. 

  • Strength Ceramic tiles should be sufficiently strong so that they do not break easily. Ideally, the breaking strength of a ceramic tile should be about 400 kg/cm2. Such ceramic tiles of high strength will last a long time.
  • Washable Ceramic tiles must be washable because they do not retain water. They have a low capacity for water absorption. These tiles can be washed easily as they are electrostatically neutral and do not attract dust particles.
  • Light-weight Ceramic tiles should not be too thick and quite light-weight. This is why ceramic tiles are easy to transport and install. Even though they do not weigh much, ceramic tiles are extremely durable.
  • Colour permanence – Ceramic tiles are painted with enamel paints or stains to create different patterns and colors. The color stays on for a long time and does not fade with frequent washing.
  • Stain and scratch-resistant Ceramic tiles that are stain and scratch-resistant stay clean for a longer period. They are also resistant to acids and alkalis. Ceramic tiles that do not get scratched easily are hard and resistant to abrasions.

You should always choose top-grade ceramic tiles. Such ceramic tiles are usually anti-skid and are good for safe and sturdy flooring.

Always ensure to follow all the safety guidelines. These guidelines will help you to choose a suitable method for tile removal and will also give an idea about how to maintain ceramic tiles. 

If you want to find out more about tiles and floorings, ensure to check out our articles like how to clean tile floors or cleaning vinyl floors. We are here to help you out with all the details you require for your flooring needs.

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