Removing Old Tile Metal Backing From a Wall

In the past, tile was often set over metal lathe or chicken-wire backing. A hammer and chisel will remove newer tile installation, but when these tools are used to remove tile from a metal backing, the backing is often pulled up with the tiles making the task more difficult to complete. This is especially inconvenient if you prefer to keep the metal backing in place. Once the tile is removed from the surface, the metal backing can be removed.

Things You'll Need

  • Stud finder
  • Marker
  • Canvas tarp
  • Gloves
  • Eye goggles
  • N95 or better dust mask
  • Ear plugs
  • Hammer
  • Pry bar
  • 1.5 to 3 lbs. sledgehammer
  • Chisel
  • Tin snips
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    • 1

      Place a stud finder on the wall, and move it from left to right to locate any pipes or electrical wiring behind the tiles. Place a mark on the tile in front of any found hazards or studs. You will need to be careful when removing the tiles from these areas.

    • 2

      Turn off the electricity in the room, just in case any electrical wiring is behind the wall.

    • 3

      Place a canvas tarp underneath the section of tile that you are demolishing.

    • 4

      Put on safety gear. Wear eye goggles, an N95 or better rated dust mask, gloves and ear plugs.

    • 5

      Form chips in the tiles with a hammer. Avoid damaging the wall or hazards behind the tile with the hammer.

    • 6

      Punch holes in a vertical line using a sledgehammer if the tiles are sitting in front of metal backing like lathe or chicken wire. Be careful not to punch holes in the studs positioned every 16 inches. Or pry the chipped tiles from the wall every 16 inches with a pry bar, if the tile is sitting in front of drywall, green-, cement- or backer-board.

    • 7

      Cut the metal backing, or chicken wire, from the wall with tin snips to remove it. Pull up any nails holding the backing in place using the claw of a hammer.

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