Removing ceramic floor tiles is not easy, but it can be done with a few tools and a lot of elbow grease.
One of the advantages of ceramic tile is its extreme durability and long lasting value. Such durability isn’t as desirable when it comes time for removing old ceramic tiles from a floor! It will take a good amount of hard work, but it is possible to remove ceramic tiles and you can do it with minimal tools.
Before beginning to remove your tiles, you will want to cover up any furniture and cover doorways with plastic sheeting to keep the mess within the room. The sawing of grout and breaking of tiles can cause dust and debris to fly about the room and you will want to protect your belongings. Also, be sure to wear safety glasses so that any flying pieces of tile will not injure you.
The first thing you need to do to remove ceramic tiles is to cut through the grouting in between the tiles. If your grout is less than 1/8 of an inch, you can do this with a razor blade utility knife. Cut down into the grout completely and all the way through, in between each and every tile that you are removing. If your grout is larger than 1/8 of an inch, you can use a tool called a grout saw to saw through the middle of all of the grout lines, making sure to cut all the way through to the floor.
After you have cut through the grout lines, using a chisel and a rubber mallet or hammer, begin at the corner of one of the tiles and hitting the chisel at an angle, chisel off a corner of a tile. Now, you can work the chisel underneath the corner of the tile and hit it with your mallet to pry up the tile from the floor. If you get some tiles that will not easily pry up, try chiseling away the grout all the way around the tile to help loosen it from the floor. Continue on this way with all of the tiles you wish to remove, putting the pieces into a box as you go so that you will not have an overwhelming mess when you are through.
There will be a lot of residue on your floor surface from the cement or adhesive that was used to attach them. Chisel away any large pieces of adhesive and scrape up the remaining adhesive using a floor scraper, which is a tool with a long handle and a blade at the end. Some adhesives may come up more easily if they are soaked with water for a while, but this will not work with cement. When you have finished scraping and chiseling off as much residue as possible, you may want to use an electric floor sander or a drill type sanding wheel to remove any remaining adhesive and smooth the floor surface.
If you are a contractor and remove ceramic tiles quite often, there is actually a ride-on tile-removing machine that you can purchase that takes up tiles very quickly and easily, though it is quite expensive. Most of us will use the chisel and scrape method, which is hard work and time consuming, but doesn’t hurt the wallet quite as much as hiring someone else to do the job.