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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20 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

  10. Gwen Says:
    July 22nd, 2014 at 5:43 pm

    I have a older (at least 90 years old) home with a standing gas fireplace. I want to replace the tile surrounding the brick insert of the fireplace and floor in front of the fireplace. There is concrete behind the tile surrounding the fireplace but i’m not sure about the floor. Could you tell me how to do this and what type of tile I need to use.

  11. Blair Says:
    July 23rd, 2014 at 8:13 am

    Gwen,

    I do not have any experience in a home fireplace as old as yours; however I’m certain that removal of any old tile (not brick) would be the same steps used in any other tile removal job. As always remove a section of grout in a starting area, then depending on size of tile and if you wish to save those tiles would depend on how you would remove them. I would recomend an oscilating tool or a flat head screw driver to slowly and light get under the tile in an attempt to left it from the thinset. From there just move slowly and repeat. As far as what tile to use it is entirely up to you on what you choose natural or ceramic. Just make sure you take your time (its not a race) when replacing the old with new, do your best to remove old thinset or debris and get a solid layer of set before laying your choice down. Also you can use putty knives to help lift some old tiles. Hope this helps and hope it turns out the way you want it.

  12. Heather Says:
    September 30th, 2014 at 12:23 am

    Hi, we removed our bathtub and installed a wet room, using thick liner under cement. We coved the floor w black mosaic tiles and black sanded grout which looked gorgeous once completed. Since then the calk or minerals have built up in the grout and nothing but nothing can clean that grout!! Now I hate my bathroom and want to retile but I’m wondering if we will damage the cement floor when pulling it out. It was extremely challenging getting the proper slope to go to the drains. Advice?

  13. Lawson Says:
    November 11th, 2014 at 5:45 am

    I need to remove the tiles from the front of a bath path panel. The tiles are attached to a wooden ply board. I would like to save as many as I can as they are no longer available. I have access to one side of two tiles as the plumber did allow for some access to reach the taps end of the bath.

    How do I do this?

  14. Frank Says:
    December 3rd, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    We just had tile laid (finished last night) and my wife and I are not happy with the way it turned out. Not the intstallers fault. How long do we have to get this tile off the floor before its permanent. Or, it is too late and we should go rug shopping.

    Neee help FAST!

  15. Judy Gutierrez Says:
    December 29th, 2014 at 9:04 am

    I have a rather small bathroom and do not want to remove marble tile (small square tiles). I had heard there is a way of sanding it, coating it with something (different designs available). Is this true?
    Thank you.

  16. Lori Says:
    January 24th, 2015 at 11:02 am

    I have a small bathroom with marble tile from 1937. The white rectangular pieces are set in a square around a black square in the middle. These pieces are set in cement. I would like to save these tiles and reuse them even if it takes a lot of work. I would think it would be possible to cut out these pieces of floor and carefully chisel out the pieces. Then I would think there would be a mesh product that could be added to the pieces to make it easier to relay them or simply relay them and put in spacers. Does anyone do this or is it hopeless?

  17. Randy hugg Says:
    March 2nd, 2015 at 8:19 pm

    I have a few tiles that have came loose. I have got then out with out breaking and got new just in case. Do I need to remove all the thin set before replacing. Or is there a better way. This was my first time and did not get enough or let it get to dry. please help

  18. Carol Says:
    March 13th, 2015 at 10:46 am

    I want to help my daughter and her husband solve a tile problem. Their kitchen tile is not available and three tiles were broken out to get to the dishwasher for a repair. A tile consultant said the tiles were cemented to the vinyl underneath and could not be removed without breaking it. I contend they could remove some tiles from under the refrigerator where a mismatch would not be seen, but how to get them out intact is the question in in order to use them in front of the dishwasher. What about heat to soften the adhesive?

  19. Kate Says:
    March 24th, 2015 at 10:57 pm

    Hi,
    I had my ensuite redone 5yrs ago and the floors cracking plus I hate the tiles however can we pull the floor tiles up and replace them they did a terrible job the grout is just awful no amount of cleaning helps I have been told the whole bathroom will have to be retiled a big expense when it was done 5yrs ago in May please help

  20. Dorothy Says:
    May 18th, 2015 at 6:08 am

    How do I remove the plastic edging strip around window which is tiled without damaging the original tiles? I want to replace it with new silver strip.

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