Home Improvement Expert Danny Lipford

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How to Remove Tile Without Breaking

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Tile floor

I would like to know an easy way to remove tiles that were installed wrong. They’re not straight and I need to remove them without breaking them if that is possible. -Earle

Hi Earle,

If the tiles are firmly attached, you may not be able to remove them without breaking, but here’s how to give it a try.

Start by removing all the grout using a grout saw, rotary cutter, oscillating tool, or utility knife. Next, position a chisel in the grout line under the bottom of the tile, and tap it gently with a hammer to see if the tile will pop loose (be careful not to chip or crack the adjoining tile). If not, insert a thin, flexible putty knife under the tile and try working it loose.

Once you get the first tile out, it will be easier to work under the remaining ones.

Good luck with your project,

Danny



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9 Comments on “How to Remove Tile Without Breaking”

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  1. Christel batchelor Says:
    October 19th, 2010 at 5:42 am

    can I tile new tilews over old tiles?

  2. Mark Says:
    September 24th, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    Try using a hand wood saw with a blade that is at least as long as the tile. You will find the blade is thin and you can tap the handle with a hammer to work it around gently under the tile. Lot’s of patience helps and it is probably a good idea to put water around the tile and let it sit. Of course this does not work on the first tile out. You may have to break that one. Also as the first post says you need to get the grout out first with the tools mentioned.

  3. JD Says:
    October 10th, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    I am a similar problem, but the tiles have not been grouted and I need to remove 6 of them to place somewhere else on my wall because I ran out of tiles. I have not been able to find anymore so I must change my design.

  4. Rick Says:
    November 17th, 2011 at 3:52 am

    It can be done. I just removed about 25 porcelain tiles from my concrete floor. They were large 20×20 and set in thinset. I removed all the grout with a diamond saw on an angle grinder (dust storm)and lightly struck around the edges (about 20 times alond each edge) with a flat screwdriver to get it to give. Then tapped a drywall taping knife under each edge until it felt too tight and moved it over. Then I tapped in the edge of a long framing square under the tile and POP it came up! You can tap on top of the tile to see where it is still attached by the sound. Took FOREVER doing the same thing on each tile but got them out, ground the thin set off the back and was able to reuse them. So yes it can be done but it takes time. The key is dont pry, get something thin underneath.

  5. Rick Says:
    November 17th, 2011 at 3:56 am

    Also tiles that are whole will hold up better. I broke one tile but it was a half tile and those with cuts are weaker. After that I took more care with the cut ones and got them out without breaking. The tile is discontinued so it was worth the time. The broken one I superglued back together (just one break) and installed where it will be under a couch – but you cant see the crack unless you know it is there.

  6. patti rickborn Says:
    March 22nd, 2013 at 11:59 pm

    I had beautiful 12 x 12 ceramic tiles a few years ago. Now i must move and I want to take them to new House. Any chance? Is there a product to disolve adhesive?

  7. Bonnie Thomas Says:
    June 1st, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    My son installed new tile floor in kitchen. Several weeks after installing, grout is coming out of random tiles. He used sanded grout that had to be mixed. Why is grout breaking and coming out in some area but not others? How do we fix this?

  8. Blair Says:
    June 7th, 2014 at 7:33 am

    Bonnie,

    I hope this message finds you. There are many reasons why this would occur. One of the most common reasons is a failure to properly clean the grout lines of the tile and the tiles also before a grout mixture is placed. Failure to clean the area out with a shop vac and a damp sponge can result in a layer of dust/dirt that acts as a barrier between the tiles and the floors, basicly causing the grout to not adhere to the surfaces. Another problem is a bad mixture of grout, too much water in the mixture can be a huge problem if the grout is to soupy causing the drying time to extend especialy if the floors are being used within the first 48 hours. Also its reccomended that when grouting you work grout in very well toll fill in all the gaps to the subfloor and tiles to ensure a tight lock to avoid weak areas. Hope this helps!

  9. Frances Brischo Says:
    June 20th, 2014 at 8:30 pm

    I like to remove about twelve bathroom wall tiles 4×4 and place else where. How could I do this without breaking them and what could I use to remove the old dry glue in back of the tile before re use. Thanks

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