How to remove tile adhesive from concrete

Written by debbie tolle
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When you remove tile from a concrete floor, you are left with tile adhesive or thinset that is still adhered to your concrete. Before you install a new floor, the tile adhesive must be removed. This is not a difficult job, but it will create some airborne dust. You can use a grinder and concrete grinding wheel to remove tile adhesive, but there is an easier method that will save time and your knees.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Plastic dust sheets
  • Painter's tape
  • Dust mask
  • Electric hammer chisel
  • Scraper blade
  • Broom
  • Shop vacuum

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  1. 1

    Cover your doorways with your plastic dust sheets. Use your painter’s tape to hold the edges of your dust sheets on your door frames. If you attach your tape to your paint, you run the risk of pulling some of your paint off your wall when you remove your dust sheets.

  2. 2

    Insert the scraper blade into the end of your electric hammer chisel. Follow the manufacturer's instructions that will show you how to secure your blade.

  3. 3

    Hold your hammer chisel so that your scraper blade is at a 30-degree angle to your concrete floor.

  4. 4

    Turn the power to your hammer chisel on. Place the blade at the bottom edge of your tile adhesive. The blade will move in a hammering, or back-and-forth, motion, pushing the tile adhesive off the surface of your concrete.

  5. 5

    Sweep up the majority of the scraped tile adhesive with your broom. Use your shop vacuum to finish cleaning up the adhesive.

Tips and warnings

  • Rent hammer chisels at your tool rental store, and at some home remodelling centres.
  • Larger floor grinders are also available for rent at tool stores. Floor grinders use grinding wheels that work in a circular motion to grind the tile adhesive.
  • A less expensive method, but harder physically, is to use a 6-inch hand grinder with a concrete grinding wheel.
  • Cover air return vents, and if possible shut of your heating and cooling system. Dust will travel through your vents and throughout your house.

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