How to Remove Ceramic Tiles

by Liz Gonzales

While ceramic tiles are the most common floor for a home, it can be difficult to remove and replace them if you do not know how to do the right things.

One of the reasons why removing ceramic tiles is so difficult is because they hold up for a very long time and if they are maintained properly, years can go by without needing to replace any ceramic tiles at all. Simply put, you do not remove or replace ceramic tiles all the time, and this is why it can be seen as difficult to remove and replace ceramic tiles.

However, removing ceramic tiles is not as difficult as it seems, and all you really need to know is what a ceramic tile is truly made of, what the foundation underneath the ceramic tile is made of, and finally how to physically remove the tile without damaging the surrounding ceramic tiles as well as the foundation around it.

The best part of this guide is that it will simplify the process of removing ceramic tiles to where it will be a skill that you can easily remember. If you need to remove a ceramic tile in the future, you’ll be able to do it easily after reading this.

Knowing what ceramic tiles are made of is one thing that will help you know exactly what you need to do to replace and remove them. This needs to be encountered and explored first before knowing why they need to be removed and replaced in the first place.

How to Remove Ceramic Tiles
How to Remove Ceramic Tiles

What are ceramic tiles made of?

Before learning about how to remove ceramic tiles, it really helps to know what ceramic tiles are made of.

One would think that ceramic tiles are made of ceramic and nothing but ceramic, but this is not an accurate observation. There are a lot more things that go into ceramic tiles that you should know about.

The main component in ceramic tiles is actually clay. When ceramic tiles are made, this clay is heated or cooled as necessary to give your floor the look of ceramic.

Similar to bricks, ceramic tile is set into mortar which is made of sand and cement. For extra adhesion, a latex additive is used. This mortar is placed underneath the tile itself and is laid onto the foundation underneath the ceramic tiles.

The spaces between ceramic tiles are filled in with floor grout, and while this grout combines with the mortar and latex additive to hold the ceramic tiles together.

As you can see, a lot more goes into a ceramic tile than just tiles. When removing these tiles, you need to understand what situations could call for a ceramic tile being removed. When a ceramic tile needs to be removed, it may relate to one of these components of the ceramic tile.

If you know why your ceramic tile needs to be removed, you know where to begin when removing it. There are a few reasons why a ceramic tile might need to be removed.

What might cause you to remove your ceramic tiles?

What might cause you to remove your ceramic tiles?
What might cause you to remove your ceramic tiles?

There are a few things that can cause you to remove your ceramic tiles.

Some of these are obvious, but some of them might not be too noticeable.

In any case, if you see any of the following, you should probably remove your ceramic tile. The first of these is probably the most obvious, and that is if your tile is cracked. If you leave a tile cracked for too long, the foundation underneath it will be affected to where it will affect other tiles.

This will then “scale” the task of removing just one ceramic tile to removing many tiles, which is something that you do not want.

Prevent this by removing any ceramic tiles that are cracked.

Something else that might cause you to remove a ceramic tile is if something happens to the grout in between the tiles. Remember that the grout in between ceramic tiles holds them together just as much as the mortar does, and when this grout is chipped or damaged, it can lead to damaged tiles.

Keep in mind that when you remove a ceramic tile, you are replacing it not only with a new tile, but also a new set of grout that surrounds it. This is why it is necessary to remove a tile whenever the grout is also damaged. Now that you know what could bring you to remove a ceramic tile, it is now time to know how to physically remove a ceramic tile.

Removing ceramic tiles requires you to possess certain materials and equipment. Before learning about the physical procedure of removing ceramic tiles.

Equipment and materials you’ll need to remove ceramic tiles

How To Remove Ceramic Tiles
How To Remove Ceramic Tiles

Removing ceramic tiles is best done by removing the grout that surrounds each tile.

You can use a number of things to accomplish this: A grout saw, rotary cutter, oscillating tool, or a utility knife. This will set up your tile to be removed with a chisel under the grout line.

A small hammer will then be necessary to lightly hit the chisel with. If you do this correctly, the tile should just pop out.

If this doesn’t work, you’ll need a putty knife to remove some of the grout that may have developed underneath the tile.

If you are removing multiple ceramic tiles with the intent of replacing said ceramic tiles, you’ll also want a floor scraper. This is intended more for the subfloor than anything else, but it is a part of the ceramic tile removal process. Now that you know what you need to remove ceramic tiles, it is finally time to know exactly what to do to remove them.

How to physically remove ceramic tiles

There are two things you need to consider before physically removing any given ceramic tile. First, you need to determine if you need to remove just one ceramic tile or many ceramic tiles. There are different steps to follow for each situation.You also need to know how to replace a ceramic tile. Removing a ceramic tile or a group of ceramic tiles without replacing them quickly is not a good idea, and you need to know right away what you will replace the ceramic tile or group of ceramic tiles with.

Ceramic tiles can be removed in two ways. If your ceramic tiles are old or cracked, you can actually use a hammer to break up the other tiles, then use your floor scraper to remove all the other pieces of the tile.

This is possible because when a ceramic tile or group of ceramic tiles are really old, they are already broken down and much easier to remove just by breaking them further.

For ceramic tiles that are new or installed improperly, you will need to work from the surrounding grout.

This can be removing the grout with a ground saw, rotary cutter, oscillating tool, or utility knife. Use whichever you are most comfortable with.

After doing this, take your chisel and place it in the grout line under the tile. Your goal here is to “pop” the tile out without breaking it. Using a small hammer, hit the chisel until the tile does indeed pop out.

Be patient when doing this. If you strike the chisel too hard with your hammer, the tile you want to remove will fly out of the subfloor, crash to the ground, then break. This will defeat the purpose of removing any new tile. Make sure you do not damage or crack any other ceramic tiles when doing this. This is especially true if you are working with smaller tiles, where you will have much less room for error.


Removing ceramic tiles only seems very difficult because it is not something that one does every day.

Different than what you may believe, it does not take any complicated or expensive tools to remove ceramic tiles, they can be removed easily, and you certainly do not need to recruit any help to remove ceramic tiles in any way.

It is easier than you think to remove ceramic tiles. All you need are the proper tools, attention to detail and the ability to work carefully in very small spaces.

The next time you need to remove any ceramic tiles, refer to the above instructions and save yourself the money that you would spend on getting someone to remove them for you.

About Liz Gonzales

Liz lives in a suburb in New York city.
Both of her parents are the art professors at Sate University of New York.
As such, Liz grew up with all kinds of art objects, portraits, and books laying around the home.
Liz met up with Linea through another friend in some kind of online art forum. There great minds sparkled to take their passions onto the next level @

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