How to Remove Ceramic Wall Tile in a Bathroom

Updated April 13, 2018

Replacing ceramic wall tile can transform a bathroom. With the wide variety of tile available at home improvement and speciality stores, you can turn that bathroom with the 60s-era pink tile into a modern spa with upgraded tile and fixtures. You can save money on your bathroom renovation by performing some of the work yourself. Removing the ceramic wall tile is a messy job, but it requires only a few tools and the process goes quickly.

Lay towels over the tub and sink areas. This provides a cushion to prevent falling tile from chipping the tub or sink. Cover the towels and the work area with a dust sheet.

Put on work gloves, safety goggles and a dust mask. The ceramic tile may break during the removal process, creating sharp edges. The safety goggles will protect your eyes from fragments of tile and grout. The dust mask is especially important if you will be removing the grout with a power drill attachment.

Start at the edge of the tiled area and use a grout removal tool to cut into the grout between the tiles. Working with four tiles at a time, push the hand-held grout removal tool along the grout lines, exerting downward pressure at the same time. If you are working with grout that is difficult to remove, you can tap the grout removal tool's handle with a hammer to help carve into the grout. You don't need to remove all of the grout; you just need to remove enough to create an indent in the grout line.

Use a power drill grout-removal adaptor if you are comfortable working with power tools. Push the grout removal tip along the grout line, moving slowly and allowing the tip to do the work.

Push the tip of a 2-inch metal putty knife under the edge of the tile. Keep the putty knife angled between the bottom of the tile and the substrate, and try to avoid gouging the substrate.

Work the putty knife in as far as it will go. Tap on the putty knife's handle to help push it in, if needed. The further you can work the putty knife beneath the tile, the easier it is to remove the tile. Pull up on the putty knife to dislodge, or "pop," the tile from the wall.

Remove the remaining three tiles from the section. Continue the process, one section at a time, to remove all the ceramic wall tile.

Pick up the removed tiles and dispose of them. Clean the area of debris with a shop vacuum.


Clean the area of the removed tiles as you go along. Broken tiles are sharp and dangerous.

Things You'll Need

  • Towels
  • Dust sheet
  • Work gloves
  • Safety goggles
  • Dust mask
  • Grout removal tool, hand-held
  • Power drill with grout removal attachment
  • Putty knife with 2-inch metal blade
  • Hammer
  • Shop vacuum
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About the Author

Drue Tibbits is a writer based in Central Florida, where she attended Florida Southern College. Her articles have appeared in Entrepreneur and Your Home magazines. She has also been profiled in the Florida Today newspaper and the Writer's Digest magazine. In addition to writing brochure copy for local businesses, she helps new start-up companies develop a local image presence.