How to Remove Floor Tile: Tools, Step by Step & Tile Removal

Many homeowners become very interested in how to remove floor tile once they get estimates for the job from flooring contractors. The cost to remove floor tile is $3 to $5.50 per square foot based on the specifics of the job.

It’s dusty, laborious work, but when you know how to remove tile floor, you might find the demolition enjoyable! Let’s talk about how to remove tile flooring and keep some money in your pocket.

Tools Need for Removing Tile Floor

The list of tools for tile floor removal is short:

  • Hammer
  • Chisel
  • Pry bar
  • Scraper
  • Heavy-duty 5-gallon pals
  • Shop vacuum

First Steps: Preparing the Room

These tips for how to remove tile from floor will be more effective once the room is prepped:

  • Empty the room of furniture and fixtures
  • Seal HVAC vents with plastic and tape to keep the dust you’re about to make from being circulated throughout your home
  • Remove baseboard trim, and number it for re-installation if you plan to reuse it
  • Gear up with a dust mask, protective eyewear, work gloves and hearing protection against the loud banging

How to Remove Tile Floor– Step by Step

These steps cover how to remove ceramic floor tile and most other types including porcelain, glass and stone tile.

Step 1: Find or create a start point

Look for a spot where the underlying floor is exposed, perhaps where a fixture or vanity has been removed. If there isn’t one, create one in a corner, a threshold or where the tile flooring meets other flooring. Use the hammer and chisel to break a tile or two, so that you can get your pry bar into the opening. If this is a two-person job, either create two starting point or create one and go in two different directions from it.

Note: Take care not to gouge the underlayment beneath the tile with the chisel. This can be done by working as parallel to the floor as possible. You’ll want it in good condition to receive the new flooring to be installed. Any minor nicks and gouges can be filled with wood filler and sanded smooth.

Step 2: Use the hammer and pry bar or chisel to continue to remove tiles, depositing the waste into the pals to be carried to a larger receptacle or dumpster outside.

Step 3: Once you’ve cleared a few square feet of space, a pole scraper might allow you to do the work with less bending. Be cautious about using excess force that can lead to a jammed or sprained wrist.

Caution: Broken tile is sharp, so the less you handle it, the better. A stiff broom and a flat spade, heavy dust pan or snow shovel work well for picking up the tile and depositing it in the pals.

Step 4: When the floor is clear of tile, inspect the underlayment for gouges to fill, protruding nails to remove or pound in and other issues to address before new flooring is installed

Step 5: Use a shop vacuum to get rid of remaining dust and debris

This video from an experienced handyman shows how to remove a tile floor using these tips:

Disposal of Floor Tile

Now that you know how to remove tile from floor, you’ll want to consider your disposal options.

  • Your waste removal company: Give them a call to see how the tile should be contained
  • A local recycling center: While not a common practice, some centers do take various kinds of tile to be reused, re-purposed or recycled.

Your Next Floor

If you’re replacing your tile floor with more of the same, our Tile & Natural Stone Flooring Buyers Guide offers a wealth of advice. Or, browse our guides to other popular materials including solid hardwood, engineered flooring and laminate.

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