How to Lift Ceramic Floor Tile

Updated February 21, 2017

Lifting or removing ceramic floor tile is not terribly difficult but the process is very labour intensive. If you have a room which has damaged ceramic floor tile and wish to install new tile, carpet, hardwood, or linoleum, this is more a time consuming process rather than a technically challenging one. Modern installers usually glue ceramic tile to a concrete subfloor. Previously the technique was to mortar the tile to the floor and it could only be broken-up with a sledge hammer.

Remove any furniture from the tiled room and put on gloves and safety goggles prior to lifting any of the ceramic tile from the floor.

Begin at the room's entryway or doorway. Strike a chisel with a hammer against the grout completely around one tile. Repeat until you break the grout or loose it around that tile. Place a chisel or putty knife under the ceramic tile and tap it with a hammer until it begins to loosen. Lift the loosened tile from the floor and put into a wheelbarrow.

Work the rest of the ceramic tiled room from the entryway to the rear of the room along one wall. Then go to the next row of tiles starting again at the doorway or at the corner where you lifted the last tile from the floor. Follow a linear, back-and-forth pattern until you have lifted all the ceramic tile out of the room.

Run a floor scraper over the entire subfloor once you have removed all the tile to scrape-up any residual pieces of tile and/or grout still affixed to the subfloor. Sweep the subfloor, then use a shop vacuum to pick up any remaining tile dust or grout particles from the floor.

Things You'll Need

  • Chisel
  • Hammer
  • Floor scraper
  • Broom
  • Shop vacuum
  • Gloves
  • Safety goggles
  • Wheelbarrow
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About the Author

Owen Richason grew up working in his family's small contracting business. He later became an outplacement consultant, then a retail business consultant. Richason is a former personal finance and business writer for "Tampa Bay Business and Financier." He now writes for various publications, websites and blogs.