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How to Lift Floor Tiles

Updated November 21, 2016

If you are starting a home improvement project, one of the first items on your list might be pulling up a tile floor. If you don't care about the mess you could simply smash and pulverise the tiles with a sledgehammer, but more likely you want to lift the tiles and minimise the damage and mess. As long as you have access to some basic tools, you shouldn't have too much trouble lifting the old tile floor. Just be sure to wear protective gear and clothing. Some of the tiles will break as you remove them and you need to protect your yourself from flying debris.

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  1. Put on your safety glasses, gloves and long sleeved shirt and trousers. The debris from the tile can potentially injure, so cover your body with the proper gear.

  2. Place the edge of your putty knife on one of the grout lines, or joints between two tiles. Tap other end of the putty knife with your hammer. Do not hit the putty knife too hard or you risk breaking the tile and making a mess. You just want the edge of the tile to lift slightly.

  3. Insert the blade of the putty knife as far underneath the tile edge as you can once it pops up from the floor. Angle the putty knife as far down toward the floor as you can, so it is almost parallel with the ground.

  4. Tap the putty knife again with the hammer. Pull the putty knife up toward the ceiling once it is lodged beneath the tile. The tile should lift up as if it were on a hinge, or it should completely pop free from the floor.

  5. Repeat the process for the rest of the tile floor. It will be easier to lift the remaining tiles once you have an area cleared. You will be able to angle your putty knife lower to the floor and can usually lift the tiles with one tap.

  6. Use a pry bar for any stubborn tiles that will not budge from the putty knife. Place the edge of the pry bar beneath a corner of the tile and push down to raise it. As a last resort, you can smash extremely stubborn tiles with your hammer. Hit the tile with your hammer and use the putty knife to scrape up the debris.

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Things You'll Need

  • Safety glasses
  • Long sleeve shirt
  • Long trousers
  • Work gloves
  • Hammer
  • Putty knife
  • Pry bar

About the Author

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