How to Remove Ceramic Floor Tile Without Breaking It

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Be careful when removing ceramic floor tiles.

Ceramic floor tiles can be a popular flooring choice, particularly in rooms that are prone to more wear and tear, like kitchens and bathrooms. But older ceramic floor tiles can become chipped and worn looking — or the style or color may no longer be your cup of tea.

If this is the case, you can replace your older ceramic floor tile at home. Knowing how to remove ceramic floor tile without breaking it, alongside the correct safety precautions you should have in place, can make the job run a lot more smoothly.

Changing Tiled Floors

Changing up your flooring can make a huge difference in the appearance and functionality of any room. Older tiles can look dated and past their prime. However, tiles can be very expensive and may be worth salvaging after removal to use elsewhere.

There are many great repurposed uses for old tile, including table tops, coasters, trays and plant stands, as British Ceramic Tile explains. If you do want to reuse your tiles, it's essential you remove them from your floor without breaking or damaging them. Removing a tiled floor without breaking the tiles can also make the process quicker and less frustrating.

Important Safety Precautions

When working on removing ceramic tiles and grout, it's important you take adequate safety precautions. Ceramic is a type of glass, so any particles of it in the air can be extremely dangerous to the lungs, eyes and skin. Bidvine explains that this means you'll need to wear proper safety gloves, a respirator mask of R95 or above and some safety goggles whenever you're working with ceramic tiles. You should also make sure you seal up the room you're working in to avoid contaminating the rest of your home.

When removing tiling grout, you'll need to use a grout saw or rotary cutting tool. These tools are sharp, and Driffy.com recommends always working away from the body, being careful with finger placement and ensuring your blades are in good condition to prevent injury. You'll also need to use a rubber mallet to help lift your tiles, which can be very painful to the fingers if used haphazardly. Paying close attention to what you're doing at all times is key for safe ceramic tile removal.

How to Remove Ceramic Tiles

To get your ceramic tiles off your floor, you first need to remove your grouting. Make deep incisions along the grouting using your grout saw or rotary cutter. Then, use a putty knife to scrape off the grouting without causing any surface damage to your tiles. Mr. Right recommends placing an "X" of masking tape in the center of each tile, which can help absorb the impact during the removal process and prevent the tiles from cracking.

Once the grout is gone, you can get to the edges of your tiles. Take your putty knife and place it alongside one of the tile's edges. Use your rubber mallet to gently ease the putty knife under the tile. Repeat the process on all four sides of the tile, stopping if you hit resistance. By working from all four sides, you can help prize the tile off the floor without weakening or breaking it. Repeat this process for each of the tiles you want to remove, making sure you put your removed tiles to one side in a safe place.

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Annie Walton Doyle is a freelance writer based in Manchester, UK. Her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Daily Telegraph, Professional Photography Magazine, Bustle, Ravishly and more. When not writing, she enjoys pubs, knitting, nature and mysteries.

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