How to Remove a Ceramic Tile Floor on a Plywood Backer

Written by sarabeth asaff | 13/05/2017
How to Remove a Ceramic Tile Floor on a Plywood Backer
You can install ceramic tile over any substrate (Tiled floor image by Simon Amberly from

Ceramic tiles can be installed over many different substrates, including plywood. When it's time to remove the tiles, it's also important to remove the adhesive so the plywood can be used again. Scraping up the old adhesive without gouging the plywood requires using a special floor scraper. A floor scraper has a long handle, so you can take care of this part of the job on your feet, saving your knees and back.

Put on safety protection, such as a dust mask and gloves. Removing ceramic tile is dusty work, and shards of tile can cut your hands, so take precautions.

Hold the chisel at a 45-degree angle to the grout joint of a tile. Hit the top of the chisel with the hammer, driving the chisel into and under the tile. This will break the tile while pulling it and its mortar up from the plywood. Continue hitting the tiles until you clear a space down to the plywood large enough for the pry bar.

Position the edge of the pry bar beneath a tile next to the space you cleared. Apply pressure with the pry bar to pull up the tiles and mortar from the plywood. When you encounter a stuck tile, hit it loose with the hammer and chisel.

Hold the floor scraper at a 45-degree angle to the cleared floor and push it forward along the floor to scrape up any remaining adhesive. Apply just enough pressure to remove the adhesive without also splintering the plywood. Begin with a light touch and increase pressure until you get the desired results and the floor is clear.

Things you need

  • Dust mask
  • Gloves
  • Hammer
  • Chisel
  • Pry bar
  • Floor scraper

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