How to Remove Commercial Floor Tile

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Ease tile removal with a floor scraper.
Ease tile removal with a floor scraper. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Commercial floor tile installers lay tiles with the intention of creating a surface that lasts for years, without coming up at the seams or otherwise sustaining damage. With strong adhesive holding down tough tile, pulling it from the floor piece by piece can be a long, laborious process without the right tool. A power scraper eases the process, cutting hours from the removal process as it cuts the tiles into easily manageable pieces, ready for sweep-up and disposal.

Things You'll Need

  • Putty knife
  • Power scraper with extra blades
  • Stiff-bristle broom
  • Manual floor scraper

Work the front of a putty knife an inch or two under the edge of a perimeter tile, until you can grasp the tile.

Pull upward on the edge of the tile, while using the putty knife to break through the adhesive binding until you’ve removed the tile completely. Scrape any adhesive from the floor with the putty knife.

Place the power scraper into the cleared floor space, with the blade of the scraper against the base of an adjacent tile.

Turn on the power scraper and push it forward, moving the vibrating blade along the floor beneath the tile. The scraper blade will cut through the adhesive and tile as it moves. Cut away the tile in a row. When you reach the end of the row, start a new row with the tile next to those cleared.

Repeat the process until you’ve removed all of the commercial tile on the surface. Replace the scraper blade when it begins to cut the tiles more slowly, indicating the blade has dulled.

Sweep up the cut tile and adhesive using a stiff-bristle broom.

Remove any small pieces of tile or adhesive missed by the power scraper, using the putty knife or a manual floor scraper.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can rent a scraper from a home improvement store or equipment rental shop.
  • Older commercial tile may contain asbestos. Clip a small piece of tile and have it tested at an asbestos testing lab before removal. If the test is positive, have the tile removed by a professional.
  • Wear heavy work gloves, safety goggles and a mask to protect yourself from flying shards of flooring.
  • Check with your local building inspector about laws concerning proper disposal of the tile.

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