A DIY Guide to Removing Tile Floor

A DIY Guide to Removing Tile Floor

If you know what you’re doing, you can remove tile whether you’ve lived in your house for ten years or you want to remodel the house you just bought. Yet if you jump in unprepared, you’ll discover that it may be a challenging and time-consuming task. We’ve put together a step-by-step guide for removing tile flooring and getting the underlay underneath it ready for new tile.

1. Assess the project

Consider the work at hand before deciding to take out the tile yourself. Is the tile in the family room or a compact guest bathroom? The task will take longer and could be more disruptive the more tiles you need to remove. For several days, cooking can be next to impossible if you’re intending to remove tile from the kitchen. Moreover, dust from the project can land on kitchen surfaces and inside cabinets.

You should also think about the kind of tile you intend to take out. Vinyl tile, which may contain asbestos, cannot always be securely removed, unlike ceramic and porcelain tile. Read the section below on removing vinyl tile to find out if your tile contains asbestos and how to remove it safely if it does.

2. Gather your tools

Once you’ve made the decision to take on the project yourself, you’ll need to gather the necessary tools to do it as quickly and safely as you can. You’ll need the following materials on hand to remove tile flooring:

  • Hammer
  • Chisel or air hammer with a chisel set
  • Pry bar
  • Scraper
  • Angle grinder or oscillating tool (optional)
  • Long-handled floor scraper
  • Screwdriver
  • Tarps and plastic wrap
  • Blankets or cloths to cover unmovable items
  • Painters’ tape
  • Shop vacuum
  • Trash can
  • Shovel for scooping up debris

It’s critical to dress appropriately for the task in addition to possessing the appropriate tools. You will be shielded from needless harm as a result. You should wear the following in addition to a long-sleeved shirt and pants:

  • Knee pads
  • Safety goggles or glasses
  • Gloves
  • Safety mask to filter the dust
  • Ear protection if using power tools

3. Prepare the area

To set up a space for tile removal, you must finish a number of minor activities. To start, remove any freestanding furniture that might be in the way, such as a towel rack in the bathroom or a kitchen table. Remove whatever fittings you can after that. For instance, you should take out the toilet before taking off the tiling. Every object you can’t remove, like the vanity, should be covered.

Use a screwdriver or a hammer and pry bar to remove the baseboards from the wall after the area is clear. Although baseboards are often installed after the tile is installed, removing the tile is simpler if the baseboards aren’t present. Take particular care not to harm the baseboards when you remove them to avoid doing so. You’ll need to locate and install a replacement if not.

Seal the vents at the end. Hard tile removal produces a lot of dust and debris, which can enter your HVAC system. Seal off your vents before you begin by wrapping plastic wrap around them and taping it in place.

4. Find (or create) a starting point

You must find a spot where you can start prying the tile up before you can start removing it. The underlayment, the layer that sits between the finished floor and subfloor, should be visible somewhere. This could be a location where a semi-permanent fixture, such as a toilet, was removed or a tile that is loose or damaged and can be removed quickly.

Start in a doorway where the tile doesn’t extend into the subsequent room as an alternative. For instance, you might be able to slip a chisel or pry bar underneath the tile if it butts up against the bedroom carpet.

You might have to come up with a beginning point if you can’t find one. One option is to begin chiseling at the grout with a hammer and chisel. Alternately, you can cut along the grout’s edges using a grout saw or rotary tool to remove it. You can pry up a tile to make your starting point if enough grout has been removed.

5. Determine what’s under your tile

Examine what’s behind a tile after you’ve pry it up. Whether the underlayment is plywood, cement, or a thick bed of mortar, as well as whether you wish to try to salvage the underlayment, can affect how the tile is removed.

For instance, if your floor has a plywood underlayment, one method is to remove one row of tiles down its length and another in the middle. Next, carefully cut through the plywood in both directions with a reciprocating saw equipped with a 12-inch-long blade. With a pry bar, you should be able to simultaneously remove the tile and the plywood from underneath the plywood.

How cautiously you should remove the tiles will also depend on what kind of underlayment is used. More pressure can be handled by cement than by plywood. If you want to save the underlayment, you need to know this in particular.

6. Remove the tile

You can concentrate on removing the undesirable tile once you have a starting point and know what’s underneath. Using a pry bar under the tile and pulling it up is the most typical technique to accomplish this. The tile will frequently show up in fragments, but if you’re lucky, it might come up whole. The tile can be broken into manageable pieces using a center punch, a chisel, or a hammer.

Score the tile diagonally to form a “X” if you’re still having difficulties getting the first few tiles up. Score continuously until it is approximately 1/16th of an inch deep. After that, position a chisel along the score and hammer it there. Even the most challenging tile should begin to break up as you push the chisel along the seam.

Once you have a sufficient number of tiles up, you can use an air hammer with a chisel set or a long-handled floor scraper to remove the majority of the tile. These tools will not only expedite the process but also lessen the amount of work required to raise the tile. As you get close to walls or cupboards, be prepared to revert to the pry bar or chisel.

Tile fragments can quickly amass and pose risks. As you go, be sure to dispose of large pieces in the garbage, and stop sometimes to give the area a more thorough cleaning. Tile is heavy, so everytime you break, empty the garbage bin, no matter how little pieces are inside.

7. Ready the underlayment

Use a broom or shop vacuum to remove all of the debris from the underlayment once you have done removing all of the tiles. Finally, tap away as much of the old mortar as you can using a hammer and chisel. Clean once more, taking more. It will be more difficult for the new flooring to properly adhere to the underlayment if any dust is not removed.

This step presupposes that the underlayment can be reused. If it is damaged or not the proper underlayment for the flooring you intend to install, you might not be able to use it again. For instance, while laying bamboo floors, the majority of professionals suggest utilizing 15-pound felt paper. Even if you plan to install tiles again, you might want to swap out your current plywood underlayment for cement board because it expands and absorbs moisture.

But you can use the current plywood underlayment you have as a foundation for the vinyl and linoleum. Be aware of the type of underlayment needed for the flooring you plan to replace your tile with before moving on.

8. Or install a new underlayment

It’s a really simple task to swap out your current underlayment if you need to. Get rid of the previous underlayment first. Work the underlayment up with a pry bar, throwing away any broken pieces as you go. Look out for nails (there will be plenty of them) and put on thick-soled shoes to avoid having one pierce your shoes.

The underlayment panels should next be placed parallel to the floor joists. They typically follow the rafters’ direction in a parallel fashion. Leave the smooth sides of the panels up and space them about 14 inch apart from the wall. Each panel should be placed such that it is just barely touching the one before it, but not pressing firmly.

Every 2 inches, nail one side of each panel together. After that, secure the other side. Till the area is covered, carry out this procedure for every row. Fill up any gaps and holes above the nail heads using seam filler. After allowing the seam filler to dry, sand it smooth using a belt or floor sander. Your new flooring can now be installed on the underlayment.

How to remove a vinyl tile floor

Typically, it is simpler to remove vinyl tile than it is to remove ceramic or porcelain tiles. But, if the vinyl tiles have asbestos in them, removing them might be extremely risky. While asbestos-containing vinyl tiles are completely harmless when they are whole, they emit this harmful substance into the air when they are torn and pulled apart. Asbestos can enter your HVAC system even if you believe you have taken every safety measure to keep your house secure while removing these vinyl tiles. Because asbestos poses such a danger, it is forbidden for a homeowner to remove it alone.

1. Determine if it’s safe

Whether or not the tiles in your home contain asbestos is difficult to determine. A good generalization is that vinyl tiles are not asbestos if the house was constructed in the 2000s or later. In the 1990s, asbestos-containing vinyl tiles were no longer used by homebuilders, and customers were no longer able to buy them.

You might be able to check the tile’s label on the back if you have an older house and a supply of replacement tiles. Some labels clearly say that they are free of asbestos. You ought to be able to identify the manufacturer and the product number, at the very least, and look up whether that specific tile includes asbestos.

The easiest approach to establish whether it is safe to remove your vinyl tile is to engage an expert to inspect your floors for asbestos. Your vinyl tile will be sampled by this expert and sent to a lab for testing. Don’t give up even if your tile includes asbestos. In some circumstances, you can either seal it with an application of epoxy floor paint or install new flooring immediately on top of it. The asbestos removal specialist ought to be able to suggest the best line of action for you.

2. Gather your supplies

After you are certain that the vinyl tiles you wish to remove don’t contain asbestos, you should collect the necessary tools:

  • Utility knife
  • Scraper
  • Hairdryer or similar device
  • Boiling water
  • Dish soap
  • Citrus-based adhesive remover
  • Trash can

3. Pull up the tile

Score each tile in the center with the utility knife. (This cut enables heat to reach the core of the tile.) Heat the tile with a hairdryer to break up the glue holding it down. When the tile is still heated, slide the scraper under the edge and raise the tile. Throw away the tile and go on to the next.

You might also use a little amount of boiling water to cover the tile in place of using a hairdryer or other heating appliance. Allowing it to settle for 30 to 60 minutes can soften the glue. When the tile is soft, use the scraper to raise it. If water by itself is ineffective, you can try adding a little dish soap.

Even though you want to get rid of as much adhesive as you can as you pull up each tile, any that is left over can be cleaned up with soap and water or an adhesive remover with a citrus component.

Tile is one of the most often used flooring materials because it is long-lasting and simple to maintain, especially in bathrooms and kitchens. Tiles, however, can lose their appeal or become damaged and worn just like any other type of flooring. Even in good condition, tiles could not match the design you have in mind for your house. We sincerely hope that this article has made it easier for you to remove tile floors on your own.

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