How to Remove a Tile

Removing a tile may seem like an easy enough process, yet going into it with the wrong tools, advice and attitude could lead to you removing a lot more of them in the process. If you follow these simple tips, you can remove a broken tile, replace a plain tile for a more brightly-coloured alternative, or simply get rid of unwanted ones on a surface in your house

What you will need:

  • Dust mask
  • Safety gloves and glasses/goggles
  • Grout remover (manual or drill-based)
  • Putty knife or chisel
  • Rubber mallet or hammer

Preparation

Before you do anything else, place a cloth on the floor to protect it from falling debris, should you be working on a wall. Tile shards can be quite fine if you don't get the whole thing off cleanly, so also ensure that you're also wearing shoes that will stop pieces going near your feet. Before you set about the surface, wear a dust mask, work gloves and safety glasses to protect against dust and debris.

1) Removing grout

Remove the grout around the tile, or multiple tiles - at least four - with special grout-removing tools. These have a triangular-shaped blade and work extremely effectively, therefore it's worth buying one specially for the job. Of course, special power drill bits are available for the same job, though manual work will also likely be needed. When you're doing this, don't push too hard and be mindful of the wall behind the grout.

2) Taking the tile off the surface

If the tile being removed is surrounded by others, it is best to start in the middle of it as prising it from the side could damage the adjoining tile. Take a chisel to the centre of the tile and tap it with a hammer, prising it with the chisel or a putty knife piece by piece from the middle out towards the edges.

If you are taking one from the sides, it's best to slide a flat putty knife under the edge of it. By only focusing on small sections, you can get a better angle for leverage, so bear in mind that the process will get easier after more tiles are removed. By gripping the knife or chisel and tapping it with either a rubber mallet (recommended) or hammer, you can pry the tile loose. Keep the knife angled to avoid chipping or damaging the surface behind it. Be careful! You may find that the tiles pop off, potentially causing damage without the correct protection.

3) Continuing with a larger removal job

If the job is for more than just one or two tiles, continue to remove grout around another section, taking advantage of the speed and ease that will naturally come about from the fact you have already taken away some grout already, and have a better angle to prise tiles away. Continue following the first two steps until you've removed every tile you need to!

Whatever you're removing tiles for, remember once again: safety first!