How to Remove Wall Tile Without Damage

Written by nick davis
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How to Remove Wall Tile Without Damage
You can remove wall tile without damaging the wallboard behind it. (Tiler replacing wall tile in shower cubicle image by Bryan Clark from

A durable material found in residential and commercial structures, wall tile is not hard to maintain and is available in a variety of colours and styles. The tiles are also removable if you decide to go with a different pattern or if the tiles are damaged. It is possible to remove wall tile without damaging the drywall or other wallboard behind the tile. Once the process is complete, you are ready to clean and prepare the wallboard for tile or another finish.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Dust sheets or plastic sheeting
  • Shipping tape
  • Utility knife
  • Latex gloves
  • Heat gun
  • 2 shop towels or rags
  • Putty knife
  • Adhesive remover: methylene chloride based
  • Nose mask
  • Large towel or box fan

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  1. 1

    Clean off the area around the wall tile you want to remove, and place dust sheets or plastic sheeting under the area.

  2. 2

    Cover any electrical sockets on the wall containing tile with shipping tape to protect the outlets.

  3. 3

    Use a utility knife to cut into the tile's grout and break it free from the tile. Wear latex gloves to protect your hands and work in sections.

  4. 4

    Heat the caulking around the edges of the wall tile with a heat gun as you cut the caulking with the utility knife.

  1. 1

    Wipe any grout and caulking residue away from the tiles with a shop towel or rag.

  2. 2

    Place a putty knife behind each tile and gently pry the tile from the wallboard. Work slowly and gently to keep from damaging the wall behind the tiles.

    For tiles that are stubborn to remove, aim the heat gun behind the top portion of the tile as you pry from the side.

  3. 3

    Apply 1 cup of an adhesive remover containing methylene chloride to a clean shop towel or rag. Wear a nose mask to keep from inhaling the chemical.

  4. 4

    Wipe the wallboard thoroughly with the adhesive remover-soaked towel or rag to remove the tile cement.

  5. 5

    Repeat steps 3 and 4 until the wallboard is clean. Dry the wall with a large towel or by aiming a box fan to the area.

Tips and warnings

  • Remove the shipping tape from any electrical sockets once the wallboard is dry.
  • Do not use a crowbar, screwdriver or cold chisel to remove the wall tiles. These tools will make indentations in the wallboard behind the tile.

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