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Remove Tiles - Methods & Cost Overview

How to remove floor tiles without damaging the underlying surface

Removing old, damaged, or obsolete floor tiles is a common remodeling project. But lifting these tiles can damage the subfloor if not done properly.

Tiles are removed with the SDS tile chisel

Follow these tips to safely remove your wall or floor tiles without damaging the surface underneath.

1. Before you start removing tiles

Floor tiles are removed

Before removing tiles, take preparatory measures to ensure success and safety:

  • Determine the tile material
  • Check for asbestos - Especially in very old houses
  • Clear the floor - cover furniture
  • Preparation of the required machines and tools

2. Manual tile removal methods

There are several ways to manually raise floor tiles:

  • crowbar and hammer
  • chisel and hammer
  • tile scraper

Manual removal takes more time but gives you more control to prevent damage to the underbody.

3. Using power tools to remove tiles

Power tools such as rotary hammers, oscillating tools and angle grinders speed up removal on large jobs, but must be carefully controlled. Compare methods to choose the best option.

3.1 Remove under-tile surface protection during tiling

It is crucial to prevent damage to the subfloor when removing the tiles. Using plywood protection, adapt the technique to the type of subfloor, gradually raising the tiles.

3.2 Dispose of leftover tiles after removal

Follow safety guidelines when handling dirt and dispose of materials properly. Make an appointment if you want to dispose of a large volume.

3.3 Next steps after tile removal

Check the underbody for damage. Thoroughly clean the surface and make repairs to prepare for new flooring.

4. Comparison of tile removal methods

removal method



Damage to the underbody

Best for





Small jobs, delicate subfloors





concrete subfloors





Thin floor tiles

rotary hammer




Large tile work, concrete

Oscillating tool




Medium works, plywood floors

angle grinder

Very fast



Experienced professionals only

4.2 How to find out which tile removal method is right for you

4.2.1 Check the subfloor type:

  • If your subfloor is made of wood, you should use manual tools.
  • If the subfloor is concrete, you can use power tools.
  • With a vinyl subfloor, you should only use manual tools.

4.2.2 Consider the tile type:

  • Power tools are suitable for ceramic or porcelain tiles.
  • For natural stone or vinyl tiles, you should use manual tools.

4.2.3 Note the size of the room:

  • If the room is small, manual methods will suffice.
  • In a large room, consider adding power tools to increase efficiency.

4.2.4 Consider your level of experience:

  • If you are a beginner, consider using manual tools for easier control.
  • Experienced professionals can use power tools to get the job done faster.

4.2.5 Remember the project schedule:

  • If you need to remove the tiles quickly, power tools are a better choice.
  • If control is more important to you and time is not an issue, manual methods are appropriate.

More helpful advice on removing tiles

5. Use a combination of manual and mechanical tile removal!

5.1 Many professionals use both manual pry tools and power tools:

  • Pry bar and tile chisel for first lifting the tiles
  • Impact drill or grinder for faster removal after loosened tiles
  • Finish with hand scrapers for best underbody protection

This streamlined combo approach works especially well for most people!

5.2 In an emergency, contact a tiler of your choice

Consult a qualified tiler if you are unsure of which removal method to choose.

Possible questions for the tiler:

  • What methods do you recommend for your situation?
  • What combination of hand and power tools to use?
  • Is underbody protection included?
  • Can they help with asbestos or waste disposal?

Professional advice will ensure you choose the safest and most efficient tile removal method.

The most common questions when removing tiles?

Is it possible to remove old floor tiles without damaging the subfloor?

Yes, with the right tools and techniques such as chisels or tile scrapers, you can gently remove the tiles without damaging the subfloor.

Which method is best for large tile work on concrete sub floors?

A hammer drill is ideal for large tiling jobs on concrete sub floors. It allows quick removal and provides control to avoid damage.

How can I tell if my floor tiles contain asbestos?

An asbestos test by a professional is advisable, especially in older homes, to detect asbestos in the tiles.

Is removing floor tiles by hand time consuming?

Yes, manual removal takes longer than power tools, but offers more control and minimizes underbody damage.

Can I simply dispose of leftover tiles in the household waste?

No, leftover tiles should not be disposed of with household waste. Find a suitable disposal point or arrange collection for larger quantities.

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    Jürgen Kleis

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