Tile Removal: Tips for Little Effort and Rubble

Tile Removal: Tips for Little Effort and Rubble

Tiles always delight in living areas greater popularity. As the B + L market research institute determined in its 2015 remediation study, 11.5 percent of the developers chose this floor covering, 4.6 percent more than in the previous year. Tiles are also becoming more popular in the bedroom: 5 percent is the percentage of distribution here, twice as much as a year before (2.6 percent).

Even if tiles are of high quality and are properly cared for An extremely durable material, they must be replaced sooner or later. You can repaint tiles or you can cover them over. Both variants are popular alternatives to the complete replacement of this material. But old tiles in the bathroom or in the kitchen, which have long gone their glory days and are so badly damaged that only a replacement makes sense, must be completely removed. How to remove the tiles, we explain in this guide.

Remove tiles for a bath renovation

Many consumers know the situation: they buy a used property and look disenchanted in the bathroom: the tiles are from the 1970s, a time when you had a completely different taste than today. At this point there are several possibilities:

  1. you rehabilitate the bathroom by pasting the tiles
  2. you give the tiles a new color
  3. you knock them down and laying new tiles

This situation is not just in the bathroom, but also other parts of the apartment. Floor tiles in the kitchen and hallway often do not meet the needs of the new owners, so an exchange is inevitable.

Considerations for removing the tiles

Consumers should consider before buying the property whether the tiles found in their taste or replace them with a high probability. For the latter, it is advisable to obtain information from the seller as to how the tiles were laid. The reason is simple: old tile coverings were not only laid with tile adhesive, but often laid in a mortar bed. The latter would increase the workload many times over. At the end of tile removal, homeowners would need to create a flat surface for the new tiles.

If tile design is not the primary reason for replacement, consumers should consider whether it makes more sense to replace single broken or unattractive tiles.

The exchange of information with the previous owner can also endanger serious problems in another situation: it is not unusual for underfloor heating to be found under tiles - especially in living rooms, kitchens and hallways. Removal of the tiles in this case must be done with particular care so as not to damage the heating pipes.

Tile Removal Tools and Material

Until a few years ago, home improvement workers had to invest a lot of muscle in removing their tiles. Meanwhile, the work is not so sweaty. The reason: In the last 20 years, more and more tool lenders have established themselves. They have even heavy equipment at fair conditions. Do-it-yourselfers are advised to rent such equipment instead of buying it. On the one hand, they save money because they do not buy a tool that they may never need again. On the other hand, they work that way with quality, safe, and easy-to-use tools.

With a few tools to handyman, the rest should be at home. But for now, home improvement needs some tile removal material:

Material list

  • Cover foil
  • Water
  • Adhesive tape

The purpose of the cover foil is to make the rubble easier to collect later. The tape is needed to avoid accidentally damaging other tiles.

Tool list

  • Hammer
  • Screwdriver
  • (Flat) chisel
  • Drill + Flat chisel
  • Chad bucket
  • Grinder
  • Cable drum
  • Water atomizer
  • Easel

Furthermore, do-it-yourselfers should never work without their usual work clothes. This consists for this task of a Blaumann, work gloves and shoes, a respirator and goggles. The latter is especially important for removing tiles.

Touching when removing shows

Hammer and chisel are basic equipment to remove tile flooring. It is available in every hardware store, but should anyway belong to the standard repertoire of a handyman. The two tools alone are not enough, because when you are removing tiles you need to feel good.

In order to be able to apply the chisel and hammer, a single tile must first be removed. To do this, do-it-yourselfers begin grouting and attach to a tile corner (see video). So you can remove the entire tile or a part. As the first tile lays the foundation for the subsequent work, do-it-yourselfers should choose it wisely. There is a simple trick: You knock off the entire tile wall and look for a cavity - here you remove the tile by hand with chisel and mite.

When removing do-it-yourselfers must not forget that only the tiles are to be removed. The remaining substructure should remain as a rule. For this reason, this work requires a bit of tact.

The right angle removes tiles with ease

After removing the first tile, the rest of the surface follows. Do-it-yourselfers have to pay attention to the angle with which they attach their flat chisel to the tile. He should have as close as possible 45 degrees. An angle smaller than 45 degrees will cause the tile to splinter. Do-it-yourselfers do more work than necessary and increase the time required. On the other hand, an obtuse angle means that you have to punch holes in the wall, which you then have to plaster - which also means more work.

Removing tile adhesive residues

After all the tiles have been removed, there will certainly be glue or mortar left over (see video in the previous section). Depending on whether it is floor tiles or wall tiles and which step follows later, the adhesive residue may have to be removed. Who wants to tiling new, must remove the adhesive residues compulsory. Again, all you need is a hammer and chisel and a little patience.

For wall tiles that were previously often glued with mortar, the work is a little more elaborate: Since manual labor costs too much time, home improvement workers should borrow a concrete grinder and with their help remove the mortar. Otherwise, the same rule applies to knocking off the adhesive residue as with the tiles: an angle of 45 degrees must always be observed. If you start too steep, it will damage the ground. For walls, this can be problematic because there may be power lines and water pipes. Under the former floor tiles may also be the water pipes of a floor heating.

At the beginning of the article we have added water to the material list. There is a simple reason for this: this work produces a lot of tile and adhesive dust. Although you should protect yourself with a respirator, as the dust obstructs the view, it makes sense to spray the water during work - and also in the room air.

Smoothen the surface

Regardless of whether you want wall tiles or floor tiles removed, it may be necessary to smooth the surface. For this work there are electric disc sander. If, on the other hand, an old mortar bed is found, do-it-yourselfers have to work with a leveling compound or apply a wall-filling plaster. This is the only way they can level the surface and ensure that the new tiles adhere to the wall or floor for many years.

Dispose of rubble carefully

The removal of floor tiles and wall tiles will leave rubble that must be disposed of by do-it-yourselfers. In terms of materials, tiles are nothing more than ceramics. However, waste disposal is a building rubble - and this is not a household waste.

Small amounts of tiles can sometimes be given to do-it-yourselfers in their building rubble community. For larger quantities, on the other hand, a container must be applied for.

Anyone who has cut off only a few tiles and replaced them can dispose of them with household waste if he cleans them first. In other words: Tile adhesive and plaster must be completely removed.


The removal of tiles can have many reasons, most interested follow a renovation of the bathroom. For removal, do-it-yourselfers can borrow special tools and thus make the job easier. The biggest trick in removing floor tiles and wall tiles, however, is the 45 degree angle with which the chisel must be attached. After removal of the tiles, do-it-yourselfers have a duty to properly dispose of them as rubble.

Artikelbild: © Lisa S. / Shutterstock