Removing Ceramic Tile

16 responses

  1. Mike P
    January 14, 2013

    Tim,
    I am going to help my sone remodel his 1960's bathroom. Tackling the shower first, It looks as though the wall tiles are set into mortar. Was this a common practice back then? I'm thinking that mortar was applied to a mesh backing to create a surface connected to the studs. If this is right, I'm assuming ewe just have to muscle the walls out, with a heavy hammer, until were down to the studs. Am I right in assuming this?

    • Tim Carter
      January 15, 2013

      Mike, Yes. Lots to talk about. I can discuss it on the phone if you want.

  2. Steve Schuler
    June 6, 2013

    Wow! Thanks, Tim. I have this very issue in my bathroom and have gotten every opinion from my fellow DIYers like, tile over top of the tile, remove the tile and leave the cement, to "Cement in the bathroom? What???"
    I am more of a remove it all and start clean kind of guy and this little tutorial was very enlightening. I defiantly feel confident in my initial assessment of getting rid of the subfloor and lay down a new one.

  3. Krista
    July 5, 2013

    Hi Tim,

    I want to redo the small hex tile in the bathroom of the apartment I just bought. It was built in 1916 (and for what it's worth, I'm on the third floor). There were numerous small cracks running all over the floor, and several loose tiles. It looked like concrete was underneath the handful of tiles that had come off entirely.

    After doing some research, I thought I could do it myself (though I haven't done this before). Using a cold chisel and a mallet, I took off a 8x4 inch section of the tile to see exactly what I'd need to redo. What I found was confusing.

    The tile is firmly adhered to about an inch of concrete, and I can't remove the tile without breaking off this layer. Underneath the concrete I found pipes that connect in a T shape. Next to them (i.e., on the same level) were 2 corners of some flat material (I think wood, but it was hard to tell) nestled into the corners of the T between the crossbar and downstroke. Between the wall and the top of the T, there seems to be just inches of dusty, gravelly fill. I can't dig all the way to the bottom, but it definitely goes down for at least an inch or two. (I have a picture, since this is hard to describe.)

    Have you seen this before? Do you have any advice on figuring out the solid part of the subfloor? And do you think there's any chance this is still a DIY project?

    Krista

    • Tim Carter
      January 15, 2014

      Krista, you need a phone consult.....

  4. B.F
    August 18, 2014

    Same problem with the tile on the walls in a old bathroom. Concrete is underlying the tile with wire on studs. How to remove without tearing the wall down.

  5. chrissy
    December 14, 2014

    I'm wanting to take out the ceramic tile in my breeze way. It was put in with the thick cement grout strait on top of the main cement floor. No base floor between. Would this method work for me?

    • Tim Carter
      December 17, 2014

      Yes it would! Be prepared as it's lots of work.

  6. Amanda
    January 18, 2015

    Our cement board was put down with screws. Will we use the same method to remove our tile or will it be a bit more difficult?

    • Tim Carter
      January 19, 2015

      I'm not quite sure I understand what you're trying to do. Can you explain it a little better?

  7. Clara Paratore
    July 12, 2015

    I have heard that it is easier to remove ceramic tile from plywood using dry ice. What is your take on this? We have been using the conventional way that you have advised and a good part of the floor is removed. Someone mentioned the dry ice method and I googled it discovering that this has been used. On the other hand I value your opinion over these do-it-your-self individuals. Would it be an easier method or should we continue with the hammer and chisel?
    Clara

    • Tim Carter
      July 13, 2015

      You can try dry ice. Be SURE you have great ventilation. You can DIE if too much CO2 builds up and you pass out. Dry ice works GREAT for releasing vinyl tile that was put down with organic mastic. If the ceramic tile is down with thinset, the dry ice will do NOTHING.

  8. Madeline
    November 8, 2015

    I tore out old tile walls around the bathtub. Put in Hardibacker walls and started applying new ceramic tile. All was going great until the last wall where the plumbing is. Somehow, probably because the tub is not perfectly level in my 100 year old house, I started going a bit off level from the tub and up the wall. My question is, can I remove the tile from this wall without damaging the backer board? I just put the tile up 2 days ago.

  9. Bree
    March 3, 2016

    Hi Tim
    I need ur help !! So in reading ur posts above .. Apparently I have an unfortunate job ahead. I have approx 84 sq ft of what looks like a red clay 8x8 tile covered in porcelain of the most unfortunate pattern circa 1978 that has been mortered directly onto the concrete pad that shares my garage. Now .. I'm a pretty handy girl& have just finished putting in a new kitchen & hardwood in multiple levels , but this has me stumped. I've tried several things & about 1&1/2 hrs of hammer & pry bar & I barely can get one tile removed. Some blokes I work with said I can't rent a jack hammer because it will damage the concrete pad. What do I do ? I can't tile over because it won't leave enough variance for the closet door ( even after I raised them ). Thanks for ur help
    Bree

  10. Theresa
    April 22, 2016

    Oh oh Tim,
    Earlier you mentioned this "Many years ago, ceramic tile was commonly adhered to fresh concrete that was poured between the floor joists of houses. The tiles were actually mortared to the concrete mix, and once cured, the tiles and concrete became one unit. The only way to remove this matrix of material is to use a four-pound hammer and lots of muscle power. It is miserable work."

    This s
    Is my situation and it is a bit over 600 aq ft of tile and I have worked hard to get up 5 percent of that!! Help!! I rented a 109 lb tile ripper and I think the tile won that round. It looks like they did use. Trowel in many places but the mixture looks to be the same material as the cement they poures in the floor joists. We thought of jack hammering but are worried what would haooen to the concrete beneath the tile. We replacing the tile mostly with 3/4" hardwood tongue and groove Brazilian walnut. We were told to remove tile and then lay 1/4" subfloor (assuming smart board or ply wood would love to know for sure what material help)? The mill said to use stainless screws in the tongue lay the beautiful Ipe floor and they said it could not be glued. We are taking out a lot of carpet that is adjacent to file floor so ideally we could remove the tile in such a way that Our concrete floor remained. This is a second story which is our main floor.

  11. Alicia
    November 30, 2016

    Hi Tim,
    We were given an estimate to remove tile from a small bathroom. They told me that I had to remove the toilet and vanity myself and they would come in to retile. I did so and when the tillers came in they said that it has the mortar underneath, as you had mentioned earlier. They tripled the price for removal and now I am stuck with a master with no toilet or vanity and this mortared tile. What should I do as I have purchased another home and we are trying to sell this one?

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