How To Remove Floor Tiles

Learning how to remove floor tiles quickly and cost effectively is an important service during home and commercial renovation projects. While updating flooring is a common way to transform and modernize home and building spaces, not having the right machinery can make the job harder and longer than it should be if you don’t use a motorized floor scraper.

In our blog, we’ll show you how to remove ceramic floor tile without breaking the subfloor. With our recommendations on the best equipment to use and creating a game plan, you’ll learn to work efficiently to avoid unnecessary double-ups and finish the job sooner.

Safety first — the first rule of any renovation work

When removing floor tiles, exposure to sharp blades, broken ceramic tiles, and dust is to be expected. Ensuring you consistently and actively follow safety precautions will ensure your well-being, prevent injury and avoid a staff member needing time off work in the middle of a project. Fortunately, floor tile removal is easy to do when following our tips below:

  • Read the instructions for your motorized tile scraper and inspect its condition.
  • Wear safety goggles that wrap around your face to protect your eyes from flying debris and dust particles.
  • Protective gloves will protect your hands from sharp objects and insulate your hands against the friction and vibrations of your tile scraper.
  • Wear a respirator or dust mask to prevent inhaling dust and debris.
  • Turn off the power supply to the room you’re working in to avoid the risk of electrocution if you accidentally cut a wire.
  • Place a safety cone around the area to prevent people from entering your worksite, being hit by flying debris, and working with heavy machinery.

Collect the tools you’ll need

The quality of tools you utilize in any project makes a huge difference in getting the job done right the first time, aids your efficiency, and stops you from unnecessarily replacing items. The primary piece of equipment you need is a motorized floor scraper. Whether you’re remodeling a whole house, a commercial space, or even a single room, they are a must-have to save you hours of work and labor costs.

While motorized equipment will make your task easier and quicker to complete, you’ll still need a manual tool to work around difficult areas like curved walls, narrow recesses, and areas where you need to be especially careful to prevent damaging other surfaces. For small to medium-sized rooms, opt for a walk-behind floor scraper you can maneuver with your hands; for large rooms and commercial spaces, choose a ride-on tile scraper that will do all the work for you.

While a floor scraper and the trolley are advanced machinery, they are a great investment because they will easily provide a return on that investment by time saved and safety.

The supplies needed:

  • Safety glasses and protective masks, and gloves
  • Painter’s tape, plastic sheeting, and loose sheets of cardboard
  • Hand scraper and hammer
  • Ride-on or walk-behind floor scraper
  • Broom and shovel
  • Wheelbarrow

Prepare the worksite

After collecting all your equipment and reviewing all the safety precautions, it’s time to prepare the area so you can quickly get to work. Start by removing furniture if the room hasn’t already been emptied and any floor moldings. Next, open the windows to allow air to circulate, seal the doorway, vents, and open sockets with plastic sheeting, and switch off any HVAC systems to prevent dust from clogging its chambers. Stick the cardboard sheets to the bottom of the walls and fixed cabinetry to avoid chunks of tiles flying and scratching their surface and finish.

The next step to figuring out how to remove ceramic floor tiles is to create a workflow so you can work most effectively and efficiently at removing tiles without retracing your steps and redoing missed spots. You might want to work from the back left corner of the room and move right as you complete each length of the room. If you’re working around a kitchen island, you could circle it and loop back to where you left off once you complete that area.

As you plan your workflow, you’ll also want to observe any expansion joints, which could damage the blade and areas where the floor features a slight elevation that will require you to adjust the blade’s pitch.

Adjusting your blade’s pitch is the most prominent critical concern you have at completing the job and protecting the operation of your equipment. Blades that aren’t properly leveled could gouge the concrete slab, subfloor, and scraper. You might need to adjust it throughout the job to accommodate different elevations in the floor if you find it is just skimming tiles or you feel it’s digging too much into the underlay. Additionally, if you feel your floor scraper isn’t lifting the tiles satisfactorily, you may have a dull blade that needs to be replaced.

How to remove floor tiles

To operate your machine and get the process started, follow these steps:

  1. Move to your starting location, turn on your machine, and carefully note the position of the cord if your floor scraper isn’t powered by a battery or fueled by propane.
  2. Slowly move the scraper back and forth across the tile, applying pressure as needed until the tile is lifted and removed.
  3. Following the workflow plan you created, move in a pattern to ensure you thoroughly remove all tiles and as much adhesive as possible.
  4. Work in sections, and after completing a few square yards at a time, clean up the area using the broom and shovel to collect debris in the wheelbarrow. You’ll want to review the site and check you haven’t missed any spots.
  5. Repeat the steps above until completed and review the quality of the finish. You might need to go over certain areas with a handheld scraper and hammer to try to remove as much mortar or mastic adhesive as possible and level the area as smoothly as you can get it.
  6. Congratulations, you did it — it’s time for a well-deserved break.

Remove tiles and flooring easily with the range of floor scrapers at Specialty Equipment

With a little instruction and elbow grease, you’ll quickly discover how easy it is to remove ceramic floor tiles. For a professional finish, discover the range of walk-behind and riding floor scrapers at Specialty Equipment that have been uniquely engineered to handle every job with precision and ease.

They’re designed for easy handling and making renovations effortless, so you can enjoy the reliability of our machines for any residential, retail, or commercial job. For recommendations on what size equipment is right for your needs, feel free to contact us for helpful and expert advice.