How to Remove Floor Tiles

Before you can install your new flooring, you need to get rid of the old one. Learning how to remove floor tiles quickly and efficiently will save you lots of time and money, even if you choose to have the floor installed by somebody else. Depending on the type of tile, this process can take from a few hours of light work to over a day of hard work, lots of noise and dust if you need to remove ceramic tiles attached to concrete.

Removing Vinyl Floor Tile

If you are removing a vinyl floor, whether it is made of self adhesive vinyl floor tiles or vinyl planks, the job is usually relatively easy. In many cases, you can use a utility knife to cut the tiles into strips, and cut the adhesive below to separate the vinyl sheet from the floor. However, this won’t get rid of the adhesive glue and if you want to install a new type of flooring on top of it you’ll need to clean it up scrapping, or using chemical solvents to remove old vinyl.

Removing Vinyl Adhesive Video

Removing Ceramic Floor Tile

Depending on the base to which the tiles are glued, the process will be more or less difficult, but keep in mind that invariably you will produce lots of noise, dust and flying particles, so make sure you wear the right protective gear and warn your neighbours before they call the police to complain.

Recommended Protective Gear

Don’t leave anything to chance and protect yourself from damage when removing porcelain or ceramic floor tiles.

  • Leather gloves, thick long pants and a thick long-sleeve shirt that will protect your body from flying bits of porcelain (which are very similar to glass and can cause deep cuts).
  • Wraparound safety googles
  • Ear protection if you are using power tools (and you should).

Ceramic Tiles On Concrete Slab

This is the most difficult type of floor tiles to remove, as the tiles need to be broken in order to remove them from the concrete slab. You can do that with a small sledgehammer, or rent a power scrapper or chipping hammer to pulverise the tiles in a fraction of the time.

To remove ceramic tiles on concrete slab start with breaking up the tile using one of the above tools. Then loosen any remaining tile fragments with a hand-held scrapper on a long pole or with a putty knife, using a hammer to hit the handle. The result will be sharp shards of tile everywhere (particularly with porcelain, which reacts pretty much like glass when struck), which you will need to either sweep using a broom or vacuum.

Watch This Video To See How To Remove Ceramic Floor Tiles

Ceramic Tiles On Cement Board

If the ceramic flooring you are trying to remove is attached to a cement board, the best and quickest option is to remove both at the same time. To do so, you will need to start removing the flooring at the place where it ends and a different type of flooring (carpet, wood) starts, and you will be able to use a spade to separate the cement from the wood substrate by lifting it.

Start by using the hammer to pulverise the tiles on an area that is as wide as your shovel and a few inches into the vinyl floor. You can try to use a putty knife and a hammer to chip out the grout, and prying up the tile by wedging the knife under it. Once the tile and tile fragments are removed, you will need a hammer to pulverise the cement board.

Once you have enough room to push the spade under the board, you can use a pry bar or a flat spade to pry up the cement board. If the board was installed with screws, you may need to remove them separately.

2 thoughts on “How to Remove Floor Tiles”

  1. Thanks for pointing out that ceramic tiles can be the most difficult to remove since the tiles need to broken first. My husband and I want to replace the ceramic tile in our kitchen, and we thinking about removing it ourselves. However, after reading how much work can go into it, and how many heavy duty tools are needed, we think it might be better just to call in a professional so that we can be sure we don’t damage something else in the process.

  2. It never occurred to me that chemical solvents would be needed to help remove old vinyl and adhesive glue. I need to redo the tile in my bathroom but I am not very handy. I’m going to have to hire a contractor to help me remove the tile.


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