How to Remove Tile

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You may need to remove the tile in your home for a variety of reasons, including to repair water-damaged flooring, to remodel the look of your kitchen, or to increase the value of your home.
Regardless of why you want to remove your old tile, you can do the work yourself by following the steps by Jerry below.
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Prepare the area

Materials needed
  • High tack tape
  • Painter's tape
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Plastic tarp
  • Protective gear (safety glasses, respirator, gloves, ear protection)
  • Ram Board (to protect finished floors)
  • Pry bar
  • Putty knife
Before you can begin removing the tile in an area, you need to make some preparations. Otherwise, you can experience problems as the dust from the project infiltrates the rest of your house, damaging already-finished flooring and getting dust all over your furniture and walls.
To prepare an area for tile removal, follow the steps below.
Step 1: Lay down Ram Board. Start by laying down Ram Board or something similar atop already-finished flooring found elsewhere in your home.
You can also use the Ram Board in conjunction with a plastic tarp to further protect your floors. The Ram Boar and plastic tarp provide a barrier between the dust created by tile removal and keeps any dust that you carry with you from the work area from damaging the other flooring in your home.
Step 2: Remove pictures and artwork. You should also remove pictures and artwork from the walls of your home.
Vibrations created by removing the old tile can cause pictures to come off the wall and break.
Step 3: Seal off the area. Seal the area off where you plan on working in from the rest of your home.
Use plastic sheets to seal off doorways. Look for plastic sheeting with zippers that are especially designed for the purpose of giving you easy access to a room while keeping any dust confined to the workspace.
Use light tack painter's tape to attach the sheeting to the door casing. For a stronger bond, attach the painter's tape to the sheeting using high tack tape. This includes sealing off any vents in the room using plastic and painter's tape.
Step 4: Remove the baseboards. You should also remove the baseboards to give you better access to the tile beneath.
Starting at the end of the baseboard where it meets the casing of the doorway, pry with a putty knife to separate the baseboard about 1/4-inch from the wall. Follow this up by using a pry bar at the nail points to pry the baseboard away from the wall completely. Repeat this step all the way around the room.
Step 5: Turn off the water main. Make sure to shut off the water main to protect your home from any water damage caused by an errant hammer blow.
This is especially true of replacing tile to repair water damage, as you might need to repair the source of the water damage as a part of the tile replacement project.

Removing the tile

Materials needed
  • Chisel
  • Hammer
  • Protective gear (safety glasses, respirator, gloves, ear protection)
The next step involves removing the tile from the floor. The following section outlines the tile removal process in more detail.
Step 1: Break up the first tile. Star by breaking up the first tile using a hammer.
This tile should be toward the center of the area, allowing you to work outward from there after its removal.
Step 2: Pry up the tile with the chisel. Remove any broken pieces of tile and use a chisel to pry up the rest of the tile.
Step 3: Remove the adjoining tiles. Next, place the chisel underneath the bottom edge of an adjoining tile and apply pressure with the hammer to pop it away from the underlayment.
Continue tile removal until the area is clear of tile.
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Remove the underlayment

Materials needed
  • Chalk
  • Circular saw (with carbide-tipped blade)
  • Power screwdriver
  • Protective gear (safety glasses, respirator, gloves, ear protection)
  • Pry bar
  • Tape measure
Once the tile is removed, you still have to remove the underlayment. The underlayment serves as a base to attach the tile to and sits between the tile floor and the subfloor. Follow the steps below to successfully remove underlayment.
Step 1: Remove any screws. Start by removing any screws that attach the underlayment to the subfloor underneath.
You should use a power screwdriver as these screws tend to be hard to get out otherwise.
Step 2: Measure and mark the underlayment. Using chalk and a tape measure, measure and divide the underlayment up into two- to three-foot segments.
This divides the project up into easier-to-handle chunks.
Step 3: Cut the underlayment up into sections. Set the circular saw blade to a depth of 1/4-inch, and cut along the chalk lines.
If you aren’t sure about the depth of the underlayment, start with a smaller blade and gradually increase the size until you are able to cut through the underlayment without damaging the subfloor underneath.
Step 4: Remove the underlayment using the pry bar. Using a pry bar, pull each section of underlayment up from the floor.
To pry, get underneath each section, watching out for any staples as you work.
Step 5: Dispose of the underlayment. Make sure to dispose of each underlayment section as you pry it up to help keep the area as clean as possible.

Clean the subfloor

Materials needed
  • Broom
  • Chisel
  • Flat-edged shovel or carpet scraper
  • Hammer
  • Shop vacuum
After the removal of the tile and underlayment, you need to clean the area in preparation for installation of the new flooring. The section below walks you through the steps necessary for getting the area ready for the next step in the process.
Step 1: Remove adhesive. Start by removing any adhesive still attached to the subfloor.
Depending on the size of the area, you have some options when removing the adhesive, including the following.
  • Larger areas: Use the edge of a flat-edged shovel or a carpet scraper to remove adhesive from larger sections of subfloor.
  • Smaller areas: To remove adhesive from smaller areas, use a chisel and hammer.
Step 2: Sweep and vacuum. After removing as much adhesive as possible, sweep out all the loose debris, such as any remaining adhesive, screws, or other debris. Finally, use a shop vacuum to do a final cleaning of the floor.
When you’re done, the area should be completely smooth and ready for you to start tiling.
It's important to protect the value of your home by replacing any water-damaged flooring, including tile.
While this seems like a daunting task, tile removal is relatively straightforward if you follow the steps given above. Above all, make sure to wear the proper protective gear when working in the area and seal the area off properly to keep dust and debris from causing damage to other areas of your home.
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