How to Remove Tiles Easily and Effectively in 7 Simple Steps

November 26, 2020

Learning how to remove tiles can seem like a daunting process. However, if you take the proper safety precautions and tackle the process with patience you are bound to succeed. To get you started we’ve included 7 simple steps that you can follow as a guideline for removing tiles.

Not sure if you’ll have the time to remove the tiles yourself? Don’t sweat it Bidvine has you covered. Simply click to submit a request for free and then get bids from local tile repairmen for your project!

Then, to plan a budget for your tiling project check out our handy tiling price guide to learn more about which factors influence tile installation, repair, and removal in the UK!

How to Remove Tiles - Safety First

1. Safety First

First things first, when removing tiles you need to keep safety at the forefront of your mind. Sometimes in order to remove the tiles, you will have to break them with a hammer and chisel. This could cause shards of tile to fly out from any direction. Needless to say, to protect yourself from these shards you need to take a few key precautions.

The main safety related items you will need are a hardy pair of work gloves, a pair of safety goggles and a dust mask. While the gloves protect your hands from fly away shards, the safety goggles will protect your eyes. Then, the mask will help to filter out any tile dust that begins floating in the atmosphere as a result of the removal process.

If you don’t own any of these items, don’t stress. Safety goggles and work gloves are available at most hardware shops.

Keep in mind that if you have allergies to dust or you have asthma, you may want to avoid tackling this project on your own. Your health is a top consideration.

Protect Your Surroundings

2. Protect Your Surroundings

After you’ve looked after protecting yourself you should also protect your surroundings. Shards of tile can easily scuff or dent the other surfaces in the room.

Are you removing bathroom tiles? Then you should cover the tub, the sink and any other porcelain fixtures with a drop cloth. In the case of removing a tile wall, you should also cover up the floor. As you remove the tiles they may accidentally drop and shatter. This could scuff a hardwood, laminate or even tile floor.

However, if you take the time to cover up these surfaces in advance, you won’t need to worry about any stray shards causing damage.

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Prep The Vents

3. Prep the Vents

Your home’s vents are responsible for circulating air throughout your home. Anything that gets trapped in them will circulate too.

The process of removing tiles can create a substantial amount of dust. If you don’t cover up your vents ahead of time this dust will likely get trapped inside them and then circulate throughout your home.

To prepare your vents cover each one with plastic. Then using tape, seal it around all four edges. When done properly, this will prevent any of the dust caused by your tile removal project from getting stuck in the ventilation system.

When it is so simple to prepare your vents, there is no need for you and your loved ones to be breathing in tile dust long after the project has wrapped up.

Remove Fixtures Before Removing Tiles

4. Remove Fixtures

Once the vents have been covered it is time to remove any fixtures that might inhibit your ability to get rid of the tiles.

If you are removing wall tiles you should first turn off the power to that room. Then, once this off you can unfasten outlet and light switch covers. Otherwise, these will prevent you from accessing and then removing the tiles beneath them.

Depending on where on the wall you are removing tiles from, you may also need to take off the trim. If you are removing floor tiles then you will definitely need to do this. If you do need to remove the trim, take your time. With patience, you should be able to effectively remove the trim without damaging it. That way you can reuse the trim again.

Scrape Out The Grout

5. Scrape out the Grout

Scraping the grout out of your tiles can be a tricky process. This is especially true if you only plan to remove a few tiles or wall tiles in particular. When removing just a few tiles you will need to take special care not to damage any of the surrounding tiles, or else the project will be far more extensive than you had planned.

Removing grout from wall tiles is also trickier than removing it from floor tiles. The grout in wall tiles is usually much thinner than the grout on floor tiles. So, the process of scraping it out without damaging surrounding tiles is far more delicate.

The easiest way to scrape the grout out of these areas delicately is with a utility knife. Though using a utility knife will take longer than a power tool like a rotary grinder, it is far less likely to damage nearby tiles. In contrast, a rotary grinder can easily cut into a nearby tile if your hand slips.

No matter how you choose to remove the grout whether with a utility knife or a rotary grinder, keep the area clean. As you work, take breaks to vacuum up the dust that the grout removal process creates. This will ensure that you can continue to clearly see the area where you are working.

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Remove The Tiles

6. Remove the Tiles

Now that all of the grout is gone, it is time to remove those old tiles! For this stage of the removal process, the only tools you should need are a hammer and a chisel. Slide the chisel between the wall (or floor) and the tile. Then hit the end of the chisel with your hammer to apply pressure to it. This should loosen the tile from its adhesive. You may need to follow this process in a few spots along the backing of the tile to get it to completely loosen.

Once your first tile is out, continue chiselling and hammering along the newly exposed edges of the surrounding tiles. Repeat until all of the tiles that you would like to remove have been.

Are you still having difficulty removing that first tile? Are there a few lingering tiles that just won’t budge? Then you might just need to break them.

First, create a hole at the centre of the tile with the hammer and chisel. Once this hole has been made continue to chisel away at the pieces of tile which remain along the edges. If you plan to keep some of the surrounding tiles be sure to take care during this step.

Remove The Adhesive

7. Remove the Adhesive

After the tiles have been completely removed you will now need to get rid of the tiling adhesive that is still attached to the wall or floor.

It is fairly easy to remove this by scraping the adhesive with a putty knife. Though this won’t remove everything it should help you get the majority of the surface even. Then you can sand any remaining areas that are uneven to level it out. This will be beneficial if you plan to re-tile the wall as it will ensure that the new layer of tiles is completely even.

If it is a floor that you are removing the tiles from, you may also need to get rid of the underlayment. Simply unscrew any screws which are keeping it attached to the subfloor. Once these are gone you should be able to simply lift it off. That being said, if your underlayment is still in good condition, then you can skip this step.

That’s it! Once you have reached this step you are all done removing your tiles. Now it’s time to hit the drawing board and plan out a new updated look for your home!

Then simply submit a free request to get bids from top tiling professionals in your area!

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Safety Considerations

Hidden pipes in floors and walls can cause major issues if you’re not careful. Accidentally hammering or drilling through a pipe can be a very dangerous and expensive mistake to fix. Luckily, you can use a pipe detector to easily find any hidden pipes. Simply mark these areas with a pencil to avoid damaging them.

Even once you have identified the pipes, it is a good idea to cut the power and water to the room if possible.

Cleaning Your Surface

Proper preparation is essential to ensure great final results. First of all, you need to remove the old wallpaper, paint, or tiles from your surface. If the surface was previously wallpapered, you can read our wallpaper removal guide before you begin for tips and techniques.

Tile adhesive tends to be very strong. You may need to invest in or hire a wallpaper steamer to help you. Once the adhesive has been softened, you can use a scraper to manually loosen and remove it. This process will be long and requires a lot of time and patience. However, it is worthwhile; the surface needs to be as flat as possible before you start tiling, otherwise, you won’t achieve a good finish.

Once you’re finished, wash the wall with TSP or an ammonia-based cleaner. This is step is necessary to remove any grease or oil left behind on the wall. This ensures the tile adhesive secures to the surface. When you are removing wallpaper or old tiles, your wall may sustain some damage. Usually, this can be done with a filler. However, you might need to skim the surface instead if the damage is significant enough. A full step-by-step guide to the process of skimming a wall can be found here.

Measuring Your Surface

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Most bathrooms tiles are either porcelain or ceramic. They tend to be affordable tiling options. There are benefits to both options. Porcelain tiles tend to be more hardwearing than ceramic tiles. However, this means that sometimes they can more expensive than ceramic tiles. If you are tiling a bathroom wall, you won’t need to choose tiles that can withstand a lot of wear. So, you can opt for whatever style of tile that you prefer.

Natural stone tiles are also increasingly popular in bathrooms. If you are looking to learn how to tile a bathroom for the first time, you may want to avoid these tiles. Tiles made of stone or limestone are far more porous and absorbent than their ceramic or porcelain counterparts.

Essentially, natural stone tiles will need sealing a lot more regularly. So if you’re a D.I.Y. novice, or short on time, you might want to steer clear of them as they require quite a lot of upkeep.

Always order sample tiles before you start tiling a bathroom. It can be tricky to picture the size of a tile when you’re looking online or in a bathroom store. However, taking the tiles and living with them will make your more confident that you’ve chosen the right colour and size.

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