Home Improvement How-To's: Removing Ceramic Tiles

Damaged or loose ceramic tile must be completely removed. Don't bother trying to salvage the old tiles. Just bust 'em up and chip away the pieces. Of course that can be easier said than done, depending on how the tile was installed.


You can remove the tile in a 5x7-foot bathroom in an afternoon.


Ball-peen or masonry hammer
Cold chisel
Floor scraper
Safety goggles
Face mask
Circular saw



Step 1 Chip out the grout along the grout lines. Use a ball peen or masonry hammer and cold chisel to tap the pieces free. Always wear safety glasses when removing ceramic tile. And remember that in some cases the only way to tear out ceramic tile is with heavy equipment such as a jackhammer or air chisel.

Step 2
For ceramic tile set in adhesive, chip away the tile with a masonry hammer and cold chisel. Use a long-handled floor scraper to scrape away tile fragments and any old adhesive residue. After all the tile's removed, you may need to smooth the subfloor with a sander.

After you've chipped away ceramic tile set in mortar, cut the old subfloor into small sections with a circular saw equipped with an old 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.