How to Remove Ceramic Tile

Sometimes you’ll need to remove damaged tiles before starting on a flooring project. Here's how.

Removing Ceramic Tile

Before installing any new tile or flooring, you may need to remove old or damaged tile and mortar. This guide details how to remove the tile in three steps.

What You'll Need

Chip the grout along the grout lines
Chip grout along grout lines - Removing Ceramic Tile

• Use a ball peen or masonry hammer and cold chisel to tap the pieces free. Always wear safety glasses when removing ceramic tile.
• In some cases, the only way to tear out the ceramic tile is with heavy equipment such as a jackhammer or air chisel.

chip away at the tile
Chip away at the tile - Removing Ceramic Tile

Use a long-handled floor scraper to scrape away tile fragments and any old adhesive residue. After all the tiles are removed, you may need to smooth the subfloor with a sander.

cut the subfloor
Cut the subfloor - Removing Ceramic Tile

• After you have chipped away at the tile and mortar, cut the old subfloor into small sections with a circular saw equipped with a carbide blade.
• Pry up the sections with a pry bar. If the old tile was laid on underlayment, cut through the underlayment and mortar but not the subfloor.