So it’s time to remove the tiles from your floor surface; you want to lay down some new tile, or the underfloor needs some repair-related attention. In any case, if your floor is equipped with radiant heat (elements or hot water pipes in the subfloor), you’ll have to be extra careful not to cause any damage. What’s the best way to do that?
To remove floor tiles without underfloor heating, use a putty knife and pry bar to loosen the tiles, remove the molding, get rid of the grout, and use a hammer drill to break the tile. If the area has underfloor heating, use a sander to remove the adhesive gently to reach the subfloor.
Throughout this article, you’ll learn the specific steps involved in removing floor tiles while preserving your underfloor heating. We’ll also give you some time- and money-saving tips. Read on to enter the world of the tile floor and to learn how to navigate it.
How To Remove Floor Tiles With Underfloor Heating / Removing Tile Floor With Radiant Heat
Removing a tile floor is a lengthy process that we’ll detail below. When you add underfloor heating (also known as radiant heat) to the equation, you also add a level of care and confidence that you must ensure to prevent damaging the entire area. There are tricks of the trade we’ll cover here, including some information on what to expect when your tile floor has cement board underneath or if it’s a shower floor and walls.
How To Remove Tile Floor / What Is the Easiest Way To Remove Tile From a Floor?
Follow these steps to get down to a clean, smooth substrate suitable for laying a new tile floor:
- Start by using a putty knife and pry bar to loosen, then remove the molding around the floor area. Set the molding aside.
- Using a chisel or putty knife, remove the grout around two sides of a tile near the wall.
- With your hammer drill or traditional hammer and pry bar or chisel, work the end of the tool under the edge of the tile, adjusting your angle and tapping with the hammer to break the tile or pry it up.
- Continue breaking and pulling up tile, using care not to damage the substrate below.
How To Remove Tile Underlayment
The presence of underfloor heating complicates the tile removal process because, in this case, you have to be careful not to damage the subfloor and underlayment that rests above the heat source.
Here’s how to remove tile underlayment:
- Since you’re down to the thinset layer, use a sander to eliminate the adhesive and reveal the subfloor.
- Clean the subfloor thoroughly. Grind off the remaining adhesive using your sander or a concrete-grinding wheel, or something like this Dremel 3000 Variable Speed Rotary Tool.
- Due to the tedious nature of removing thinset or a grout layer from your heating pads without damaging them, you may want to save time and replace the heating pads.
How To Remove Tile Floor and Cement Board
Removing floor tiles that have cement board beneath them is a trickier process, with some extra steps involved.
Here’s a step-by-step guide for removing tile floor and cement board:
- Gather your dust mask, safety goggles, and hammer drill with a wide spade bit.
- Adjusting for the optimal angle, work your running hammer drill through the spacing grout and underneath one tile at a time, prying it up whole or in pieces.
- You’ve exposed the underlayer of the cement board, most importantly the screws that hold it to the substrate. Using a power drill with a screwdriver tip set counterclockwise, remove as many screws as will come up out of the cement board.
- From a length of 2×4, cut several 18-24” (45.72 to 60.96 cm) pieces and rip saw them into long wedges.
- Use a pry bar to insert your wooden wedges under the edge of the cement board and knock them in with a 3-pound (1.36-kg) sledge.
- Using a long-handled floor scraper or a long piece of 2×4, reach under as far as you can and pry upwards as if you want to flip over the cement board layer.
- Once you have the cement board completely pried up, remove any remaining screws, nails, or staples. You’re now ready to lay your new floor.
How To Remove a Tile Shower Floor
Removing the tile floor in your shower is a straightforward process, especially when it rests directly on top of your house’s concrete slab. But it’s essential to do it correctly and safely to make putting in the replacement tile less complicated.
Here’s how to remove a tile shower floor:
- Gather your safety goggles, dust mask, and work gloves, in addition to a mason’s chisel, three-pound sledge, putty knife, razor scraper, and something to block the shower drain with, preventing any debris from going down the drain and blocking it.
- Use the razor scraper to remove any visible caulking along the wall line.
- Preferably on a spot on the tile floor that sounds hollow when tapped, hammer your chisel into the grout between tiles.
- Pry up or break that section of tile.
- Continue to pry and break until only concrete shows, disposing of the pieces into a five-gallon bucket or trash can.
- Shop-vac the remaining debris, leaving a clean concrete surface.
- Clean out the remaining caulking around the edge of the floor.
- Cover the area around the floor with plastic sheeting to protect it from dust.
- With earplugs in, use a concrete-grinding wheel to remove the thinset adhesive from the entire floor area.
- The concrete substrate doesn’t have to be baby-smooth all around, but you should have a clear, relatively smooth surface upon which to put your new flooring.
What Is the Best Tool To Remove Floor Tiles?
The most indispensable tool you need the most is a hammer drill with a wide spade bit. DeWalt power tools have a reputation for being dependable and durable. That said, there are still many to choose from online and at your local home improvement store.
Here are four of the best:
This drill can be set to one of three modes — Drill, Hammer Drill, or Chip. It’s a powerful machine with 2.1 joules of impact energy for dealing with concrete quickly. It stands up to tough jobs and comes with a proprietary vibration-reduction system built in to reduce wear and tear on the wrists. All around, a good bet.
This tool kit increases your versatility with a hammer drill and an impact driver, both part of the set. The hammer drill has three speeds, ranging from zero to 2,000 rpm. It even has LED lighting for dark or enclosed spaces and packs the punch we’ve come to expect from the name brand. You couldn’t go wrong choosing this kit for your tile demo job.
This drill’s compact size, German engineering, and ability to maintain speed even bearing the heaviest bits combine to make it a go-to when removing any kind of tile flooring. It also boasts a speed of application that beats the speed of corded models, and the battery has a satisfyingly long life. Bring this tool to the job and make the process smooth and easy.
This is your basic workhorse of the bunch, with an impact energy of three joules and an 8.5 amp high-performance motor. Another nice feature is a clutch that kicks in should there be any high-torque reactions if and when your bit jams. You can’t go wrong here.
ReadyToDIY is the owner of this article. This post was published on April 30, 2021.