5 ways to remove tiles from walls and floors

9 min

Anyone who has gone through repairs at least once shudders a little at the thought that it will be necessary to remove the old tile again. Even repair specialists do not like this process and often refuse to customers, or charge very, very expensive for their services. It would seem that breaking is not building. What can be difficult in picking out old tiles? If you think so too, there are many discoveries ahead of you! Even with a perforator, tiles are not always removed easily, and when it is necessary to keep the tiles intact, the task becomes several times more complicated. There are several basic ways to remove tiles from walls and floors. Consider everything, and you choose the one that is more suitable in a particular situation.

Tools and preparation

When going to dismantle the tile, each of us wants to inflict minimal damage to the wall. Someone also calls the minimum damage to the tile itself a prerequisite so that it can be reused. The choice of installation method largely depends on the purpose: either you are trying to preserve the tile, or you don’t care what happens to it.

In addition, the method of removing the tile also depends on how and on what surface it was attached:

  • if the tile was mounted on a cement-sand mixture, and even with plasticizers, and even experienced craftsmen who did their job as efficiently as possible, then removing the tile without damage will not work with a probability of 99%. In this case, only a hammer drill with a chisel attachment will help. Even specialists will not be able to preserve the integrity of the tile;

  • if the tiles were attached to tile adhesive, then the probability of removing them without damage is much higher. Be prepared for losses anyway. All tiles cannot be kept intact. Sometimes a part of the elements damaged during dismantling reaches 50%, so weigh well whether it is worth the candle;

  • it is possible to remove tiles from a concrete and brick surface, but if you have it glued to drywall, then get ready for large-scale destruction. In the best case, the tile will be completely broken, in the worst case, you will have to change the plasterboard partition.

Experts have one simple way to determine if there is a chance to remove the old tile without damage. You need to walk over the entire surface of the tile, tap it with a spatula and a rubber hammer. The movement should be light so that you can detect the presence or absence of voids under the tiles. If they are, and in large quantities, then you can try to remove the tile in more gentle ways to preserve the tile and its further use, for example, in the country.

From tools you may need:

  • a perforator with a bit nozzle, some use nozzles in the form of a drill, bit, chisel;

  • chisel or chisel;
  • spatula, several can. More durable products are preferred;
  • a hammer;
  • chisel and scraper to remove grout;
  • you may also need a screwdriver with a handle, which is convenient to hit;
  • not necessary, but a grinder with a nozzle for cleaning the seams between tiles may be useful;
  • container with warm water, sponges;
  • drill with a drill 6 mm;

  • hardened wire with a diameter of 3-4 mm.

Of course, not all of these tools can be useful at once – it all depends on the chosen method.

Remember to take care of your personal safety. Use safety goggles, a mask or gauze bandage, heavy gloves, or even better – work in a protective suit.

# 1. How to remove tiles without damaging them

Before you try to crank up this experiment on the scale of your apartment, I would like to remind you once again that you will not be able to remove all the tiles safe and sound. There will be losses in any case. The result depends not only on the composition on which the tiles were attached, but also on the quality of the preparatory work. The preparation is as follows:

  • prepare a warm soapy solution, moisten all the seams between the tiles well with it;
  • Use a chisel, spatula, paint knife or triangular screwdriver to carefully remove the old grout. If you have the skill to work with the tool, you can use the grinder and walk the disc along the seams;
  • wipe the edges of the tile with a sponge dipped in the same solution. If you have a drill and a special brush attachment, you can use them – the result will be achieved more efficiently;
  • leave the tile for a while so that the water slightly soaks the glue or mortar.

You don’t need a punch – you have to work with a hammer and chisel. It is slow, difficult and painstaking, but if it is important to keep the old coating, this is the only way. The procedure is as follows:

  • if the top, side or bottom row is not open, then you will have to sacrifice one tile to ensure normal access. As a rule, this is not required, but if suddenly the tile covers the entire surface of the wall, then with a spatula and hammer break the tile somewhere from above;
  • when normal access to the tiles is open, you need to drive a chisel, a chisel with a thin blade or a spatula between the tile and the adhesive layer and tap on the tool with a hammer. The blows should be neat, but strong. If, after a few hits, the tile remains firmly in one place, there is a chance that it will split from subsequent hits. Try to pry it on the other side. If she does not give in again, you will have to accept that you can’t take it off whole and finish it off. Remember, no one promised you a 100% result? If the tile moves away from the wall, then you need to be especially careful when it is knocked back by 2/3 – this is that dangerous moment when you need to make every effort to keep the corners of the tile intact. Pry tiles from different sides;
  • the tile is knocked down from top to bottom;
  • from one row to another move from top to bottom. This reduces the likelihood of tile collapse and injury;
  • you can clean the wall from old glue or mortar using a puncher.

In a similar way, it will turn out to remove the tile laid on the glue, or the one that was mounted on the solution in violation.

# 2. How to remove tiles without damaging adjacent tiles

Imagine that only one or two tiles are cracked on the wall. Or you need to get access to the wiring, or other communications. Dismantling all the tiles would be foolish. But how do you remove multiple elements without damaging adjacent tiles? The task is further complicated by the fact that during the dismantling process you will have to try to preserve the elements that you are removing. If the tile is old and you don’t have spare samples, it will be difficult to find a suitable replacement in the store. Even if the collection is still being released, there is no guarantee that the color will match. In general, this is a jewelry business without exaggeration.


  • moisten the seams near the tiles that will need to be removed, as well as moisten the seams between them;
  • wait a while, clean the seams, as described above;
  • moisten the seams with soapy water and try to pry off the tiles with a spatula or chisel. By tapping with a hammer, the tiles are gently beaten off the surface;
  • if the classic method does not work, you can use a hardened wire bent on both sides. Hooks cling to the edges of the tiles. Now all that remains is to pull the wire with the tiles towards you, applying force perpendicular to the wall. If you pull at an angle, then the tile can be broken;
  • when all the elements are in place, it can be very difficult to act – there is nowhere to catch on, so you may have to sacrifice one element. It is broken with a spatula and hammer, or a hole is drilled in it with a drill. To replace damaged tiles (if there are no more tiles like yours in stocks and stores), you can pick up tiles of the same size with a characteristic image. If you remove a few more old tiles at random in different places and put elements with the image of coffee, dishes, palm trees, flowers or something else there, you get stylish. As if it was intended! So there is always a fallback;
  • when cleaning seams and trying to remove tiles, proceed with extreme caution so as not to damage adjacent tiles.

No matter what the dismantling of the tile turns out to be, remember that even experienced craftsmen do not give any guarantee whether it will be possible to preserve it or not.

No. 3. The easiest way to remove old tiles

If you do not care about the integrity of the tiles, then you can greatly simplify and speed up the whole process. However, even if you originally planned to save at least part of the tile, but in the process of work it turned out that this was impossible, then this method will also be useful to you. Arm yourself with a puncher and follow this order of work:

  • cover the floor with polyethylene, cardboard, plywood or foam, if you do not plan to make repairs to the floor covering soon. Pieces of falling tiles can cause irreparable damage to the finish;
  • communication pipes are also better protected, you can use all the same plywood;

  • do not forget to protect your eyes, hands and respiratory tract;
  • the base under the tiles must be solid (brick or concrete);
  • use a hammer drill with a chisel attachment to break off the tiles one by one, moving along the horizontal rows and moving from top to bottom. The nozzle should be at an angle to the tile, as if prying the cladding.

No. 4. How to remove tiles from drywall?

Many experts do not like to bother with the dismantling of tiles, and as soon as they hear that the tiles are glued to drywall, they often refuse. The fact is that the glue literally eats into the drywall, so that it can be removed along with the tiles. However, it is possible to separate the tile from the wall. Only now, no one can give an accurate forecast of how drywall will look after such an execution. Nobody undertakes to guarantee the integrity of at least some part of the tile.

If the tile was laid a few days ago, then it is still possible to remove it without much damage to the surface and the tile itself. In other cases, you will have to suffer. The procedure is similar to the classic way:

  • preparation of seams;
  • at first, you can dismantle one tile in the top row so that it is convenient for you to work. A hammer and a spatula / chisel / chisel / chisel will come to the rescue – everything is as described above;
  • the rest of the tiles are removed one by one with the same set of tools;
  • do not be alarmed if the tile falls off with part of the drywall;
  • It is almost impossible to remove tile adhesive from drywall. If this is important, then gradually clean off the glue with a grinder, just work very carefully;
  • when the work is completed, assess the damage;
  • if the partition has minor damage, the pits and glue residues can be hidden under a layer of putty. After it dries, you can install new tiles. If the tile was removed “with meat”, then a complete replacement of the partition may be necessary. You have to be ready for this right away.

No. 5. How to remove tiles from the floor?

The process of dismantling floor tiles is not much different from a similar process for wall decoration. It all depends on the need to maintain coverage:

  • if the old tile is not needed, then use a puncher, prying one tile after another. If there is no tool, then use a chisel and a hammer, but it will take longer, and more energy will go;

  • if you decide to try to save the tile, then proceed according to the classic method described above. First, the seams are moistened and cleaned, and then methodically each tile is pryed off with a thin spatula, which is hit with a hammer. It is necessary to pry and knock from all sides. As soon as the sound becomes muffled in some place, it means that the tiles can be carefully separated from the surface.

Removing the tiles is a lengthy and laborious process. The most offensive thing is that no one can guarantee the safety of the tile. So be prepared for anything, but hope for the best.

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Passionate about DIY for over 10 years and all the new tools, I give you through this blog all my advice, tips, tests in all areas: carpentry, electricity, masonry, gardening, home automation ...


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