Least Messy Way to Remove Tile From Concrete Floor

Taking ceramic tiles off a concrete floor can be a tough project. It can also be a messy one. Sometimes you have to smash the tiles to pieces to get them out, which means kicking up dust, broken mortar and shards of ceramic. Even if you don't have to do it that way (and that is a last resort), you're going to raise a lot of dust. There are things you can do to keep the mess under control, starting with sealing off the room from the rest of the house.

  1. Whole-Tile Removal

    • In some cases, you can get the tiles out without breaking them up, which is by far the least messy approach. Take a hammer and chisel and chisel out the grout between a few of the tiles. Get the chisel under the tile and firmly hit the chisel with the hammer until it pops out. Once you've got a few tiles out, work your way across the floor like that, getting under each new row of tiles and tapping them out, until you're done. If you have a vibrating electric or pneumatic chisel, this works well too, but it will create more dust.

    Breaking Up the Tiles

    • If you find you can't chisel under the tiles to get them out in whole pieces, then you have to go to the next level, which is to break them up from the top with a sledge hammer. To keep down the dust and shards, use a thick canvas tarp---one that you don't mind ruining---and lay it over the ceramic tile, folded over once or twice. Swing the hammer directly on top of it. Working in sections, break up a group of tiles, then go back with a heavy steel floor scraper or hammer and chisel and take up the broken pieces. Wear long sleeves, gloves and goggles when breaking up tiles, to protect yourself from flying shards.

    Other Hints

    • However you take out the tiles, there are a few things you can do to minimize the mess. Close doors, open windows, and put an outward-blowing fan in a window to help clear the dust. Hang a plastic tarp over the doorway, even with the door closed, to prevent the dust from going around the edges of the door and into the rest of the house. During removal, don't let the loose or broken tiles pile up around you, but stop regularly to scoop them up with a flat shovel and dump them into a trash can, sweeping up broken mortar and dust at this time as well.

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