How to Remove & Save Ceramic Tile Floor

Angle Grinder
Angle Grinder

Saving a ceramic tile floor is a challenging and time consuming job. It is possible to do, but it is not always easy to get the tiles off of the floor without breaking them. Even with the right tools, there is no guarantee that some of the tiles will not break when you try to remove them.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic drop cloths
  • Painters tape or masking tape
  • Safety glasses
  • Leather work gloves
  • Dust mask
  • Angle grinder with diamond cut grinding wheel
  • Stiff 4-inch to 6-inch putty knife
  • Hammer
  • Bench grinder

Video of the Day

Remove as much furniture from the room as possible. Cover counter tops and cabinets with drop cloths. Remove curtains and window blinds. Cover open doorways with plastic and secure it with tape. Removing tile will create a lot of dust. Covering everything possible will save time on cleanup.

Put on your safety glasses, work gloves, and dust mask. It is important to wear protection when removing tile to avoid getting particles in your eyes, getting cut by broken tile and damaging your lungs from breathing too much dust.

Begin at the doorway and work your way into the room. Use the angle grinder to cut the grout lines only. Make sure that you cut all the way through the grout lines on all four sides of each tile. You can cut a large section of grout lines at a time before stopping to remove some of the tile.

Angle Grinder
Angle Grinder

Use your putty knife and hammer to pry the tile off of the floor. After you have cut the grout lines, place your putty knife at the bottom edge of a tile. Use your hammer to tap on the handle of the putty knife. The putty knife will start to slide under the tile. Do this procedure around the entire tile. As you are working your way around the tile pry up as easily as possible until the tile comes loose from the floor. You will do this on every single tile.

To be able to reset the tile you will need to remove the thinset from the back of the tile. To remove the thinset use a bench grinder. Hold the tile carefully to the grinder and grind or sand off the thinset. You will need to remove the thinset from all of the tile.

Bench Grinder
Bench Grinder

Tips & Warnings

  • Pry up slowly on each tile. If you use too much force, the tile will crack.
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