How To Remove Bathroom Tiles (7 Steps)

Old tile can make your own bathroom look dated. Whether it's on the floor or wall, old patterns and colors can make your bathroom look out of style and uninteresting. Luckily, removing old bathroom tile doesn't call for a lot of DIY expertise. We've checked with the tiling experts to inform you how to remove your bathroom tile. 

Here are the basic steps to remove bathroom tile:

  1. Prepare the area
  2. Remove furniture/fixtures
  3. Prepare the vents
  4. Scrape away the grout
  5. Remove the tile
  6. Remove old adhesive
  7. Sand any uneven areas

It's common to remove tiles when remodeling a bathroom or kitchen or if they become damaged from furniture, daily wear and tear, or water leaks. Though removing bathroom tiles can be a DIY project, certain techniques can help you get the job done efficiently and effectively. We will cover these techniques as well as the best tools to use to ensure that you can finish your job up in no time. Continue reading to learn more about removing bathroom tiles.

Man removing tile with hammer and chisel scraper, How To Remove Bathroom Tiles (7 Steps)

Steps to remove bathroom tiles

Renovate and refurbish the bathroom

Things you'll need before getting started:

  • Hammer
  • Knee pads
  • Chisel or air hammer with a chisel set
  • Scraper
  • Screwdriver
  • Pry bar
  • Tarp
  • Painter's tape
  • 2-gallon bucket

1. Prepare The Area

Before you begin removing the tiles from the bathroom, it's important to first prepare the area. The first thing that you'll need to do is remove any free-standing personal items from the bathroom. This can include any small tables, chairs, trash cans, or other items.

You can also use this as a good time to declutter your bathroom. If there are items that you can't move, be sure to cover them with a tarp.

See this tarp on Amazon.

Next, remove the baseboard trim from the bathroom walls. You should be able to do this using a pry bar to slowly pulling the trim away from the wall. If you have trouble, use a hammer to tap the end of the pry bar to wedge it between the trim in the wall. Be careful when removing the trim, as you'll likely want to reapply it after you lay down your new flooring.

See this pry bar on Amazon.

2. Remove furniture/fixtures

At this point, you'll want to remove any furniture and fixtures that may prevent you from having complete access to the tiles. If you are removing tiles from the bathroom wall, you may want to turn off the power first to the bathroom so that you can remove the light switch covers and unfasten the outlets. This way you will have easy access to the tiles surrounding them.

3. Prepare the vents

Removing tiles from your bathroom can create a lot of dust. It helps to cover up your vents before starting this project to prevent the dust from getting inside them and circulating throughout your home.

You can use plastic tarps or even trash bags to cover the vents. If you have painter's tape available, this can be used to hold the bags in place and will prevent the paint from peeling once the tape is removed.

See this painter's tape on Amazon.

4. Scrape away the grout

Scraping the grout from around your tiles can be a little tricky at first, especially if you are only removing single tiles or a few rows. The most important thing to remember is to avoid damaging the surrounding tiles while removing the grout. The best way to remove the grout is to use a utility knife or a grout saw. You can also use a chisel and hammer to tap the pieces of the grout away from the tile.

When using a grout saw, start by cutting along the edges of the grout and work your way to the end of each row. Try to cut the grout as deeply as possible and be sure to toss any sharp pieces into the 2-gallon bucket so that they're out of the way. To help the process go faster, it's best to start in a section of the room farthest away from the door and work your way backward.

See this grout saw on Amazon.

5. Remove the Tile

Once you have removed the grout, you can now remove the tile. One of the quickest ways to do this is to use a chisel and a hammer. Start in the corner of the room and place the edge of the chisel in the bottom corner of the tile.

Next, gently tap on the end of the chisel with the hammer. Continue tapping until the tile is completely lifted from the floor. Work along each row of tiles until all of them are removed. It's normal for the tiles to crack and break during the process, but be sure to toss them aside so that you do not accidentally kneel on them.

See these chisels on Amazon.

6. Remove old adhesive

Once you have removed all of the tiles from the floor, it's now time to remove the adhesive that held the tiles in place. You can remove the adhesive with a putty knife. Start by digging the corner of the putty knife into the edge of the adhesive and then flatten it to lift it from the floor. Continue this process for each row of tiles.

See this putty knife set on Amazon.

7. Sand any uneven areas

It's normal for the adhesive to leave uneven areas on the floor. Use sandpaper or an orbital sander to smooth these areas out. If there is an underlayment beneath the tile, you will need to remove it as well. Underlayments are typically installed using screws or nails, in which case you will need a hammer or electric screwdriver to remove it.

Once you remove these fasteners, you'll be able to lift the underlayment. However, if the underlayment is in good condition, then you can leave it as is. It's important to make sure that the floor is perfectly smooth. If not, the new installation may not adhere properly to the subfloor, which can cause problems.

See this orbital sander on Amazon.

Is it hard to remove bathroom tile?

New remodeled blue bathroom with classic white tile

Removing bathroom tile can be a very time-consuming and challenging task, especially if you have never done this type of project before. The biggest challenge is simply the physical effort needed to chisel the tiles from the floor or wall--sometimes this may require more than one person. However, once you remove those first few rows of tiles, you'll get the hang of it, making the rest of the process flow smoothly.

If the floor tile is attached to a bare cement floor, this may present additional challenges with removal. In which case, a jackhammer or other power tool would be needed to make the process easier. Removing tile from drywall is a bit easier as it doesn't require you to bend over and there is usually less tile to remove.

What is the best tool to remove tile?

It depends on the size of the area of the tile. In many cases, a chisel (or pry bar) and hammer can be used to pry the tile away from the floor or wall. However, when working with large areas of tile or tile that is adhered to concrete, an air chisel or a jackhammer may be better suited for the task.

Does removing tile damage the drywall?

Oftentimes, removing tile from the wall will cause damage to the drywall---it's almost inevitable. The process can leave your drywall filled with holes and cracks from prying tools and tears from adhesive products.

However, this doesn't mean that you'll need to rip out the drywall and install new panels; it just means that you'll need to repair the drywall before applying new tile. Typically, you can patch up the drywall using a spackle or a drywall repair kit if the holes are too deep for putty alone.

See this spackle on Amazon.

How much does it cost to remove tile?

The cost to remove tile from your bathroom or kitchen walls and floor will depend on the size of the area of the tile, as well as the condition of the tile. For example, if you have a 60 square foot bathroom with floor tiles that are layered on top of a concrete subfloor, this will be an especially labor-intensive project compared to a 30 square foot bathroom with wall tiles.

On average, contractors will charge anywhere from $0.72 to $0.90 per square foot to remove tile. Typically, they'll also include a disposal fee or dumpster fee for disposing of the tile and other debris once the job is finished.

Does Home Depot remove tile?

Yes. Home Depot does offer tile removal and installation services for both floor and wall tile. Their removal and installation process can take anywhere from one to three days, depending on the size of the project. The cost can range anywhere from $1,000 to $1,500 and includes preparation, grout installation, and tile sealing.

Can you tile over existing tile?

Male hand with the rubber applies grout on a seam between tiles

Yes. You can install tile over existing tile. Before doing so, however, the surface will need to be sanded and evened out.

Wrapping Things Up

Removing bathroom tiles is a challenging DIY project. However, having the right tools and using the proper techniques will help your project run smoothly. Before you go, please check out some of our other posts:

11 Fantastic Bathroom Wall Tile Ideas

What Can You Put On Bathroom Walls Instead Of Tiles?

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