How to Remove Tiles Without Damaging the Wall | A Step by Step Guide

by Team MD


You can remove tiles without damaging the wall, but it takes a bit of patience. In the comprehensive step-by-step guide below, we will explain how to remove tile from wall safely, quickly, and efficiently. Make sure to follow all the steps if you want to ensure a satisfactory result.


Safety and tools

Before you can begin the tile removal process, you will need to take the time to protect yourself and your surroundings since you don’t want to injure yourself or damage the fragile surfaces in your kitchen or bathroom.

You will need to wear safety goggles since while removing the grout and the tiles, fine particles can fly right into your eye. The flying particles can also damage your skin, so you will need to wear a long-sleeved shirt, pants, and gloves to protect you from these fragments.

To protect other fragile surfaces and to make cleanup easier after you are done, you should get a cloth or tarp that is large enough to cover the floor and surfaces such as the bathtub, shower pans, and more. You can also use cardboard to protect objects or surfaces.

If there are drains near the wall you plan to remove tiles from, then you will have to cover them as well. You can use a piece of cardboard or paper that you can tape to keep the cover in place over the drain.

You should also keep the windows open during the entire process since otherwise, you will find it difficult to breathe as the small bits of grout can become airborne. If you’re working in a place that can’t be ventilated in a satisfactory manner, then you will need to use a mask.

The most time-consuming part of the whole process is to remove the grout between tiles, and for this, you will need to purchase tools designed specifically for this task. A manual grout tool looks like an ice pick and has a pointy and sharp end that is used to cut into old grout and crumble it. You can find this tool online or at any hardware store.

This tool is available in different designs and styles, such as the handheld oscillating and rotary grout tool that performs the same task by grinding the old grout away more quickly. When dealing with very old and hardened caulk, a heat gun can also be used to loosen it enough so that you can then pick it up using a grout removal tool.


Remove the grout

Before you can begin to remove the title, you will first need to deal with the grout. Removing the grout not only helps reduce the chance of breaking the titles and damaging the wall, but it also makes it easier to remove each tile.

If you plan to remove all the tiles on your wall, then you can save time and only remove the grout in the most important areas, namely next to the floor and ceiling. If, on the other hand, you just want to remove a single damaged title, then you will need to scrape the grout on all sides so that you can avoid damaging or displacing the other tiles around it.

When removing an entire wall of tiles, you should start by trying to locate a loose tile that you can begin with, and to do this, you can try to tap the edge of each one and look for signs of looseness. Since the first tile is usually the hardest to remove, it is worth spending the extra time to locate one that’s already loose.

Apart from tapping the edge of each tile, another method that you can use to identify loose tiles is to examine the areas that have clear signs of water damage. Chances are that the water has damaged the grout and the adhesive that keeps the tile in place, making it easier to remove.

If you have the proper tools, removing grout is not difficult, but it is time-consuming. An optional step you can take to make the entire process quicker is to use a heat gun or a blow dryer to soften the hard grout. It should only take about 30 seconds to warm up an entire line of hardened grout.

The next step is to scrape the grout away using a grout tool or utility knife. Run the tool or knife carefully and repeatedly along the grout line. It will still take a while to remove all of the grout using these tools, but the benefit is that there will be a lower risk of damaging the surrounding tiles or your wall.

However, if you are looking for the quickest method of removing all the grout around the tiles, you can consider using a rotary grinder. This tool can remove the grout much faster, but it is also capable of damaging tiles or your wall if your hands slip.

If your focus is to protect your wall and tiles, then you should set the rotary grinder to the lowest setting. You will also need to move it along the grout line slowly since the faster you go, the more difficult it is to maintain a straight, stable line.

You can experiment with different speed settings and settle for the one that offers the best ratio between stability and speed. Another aspect to keep in mind when using a rotary grinder is that not all head attachments are small enough to fit between the tiles. It may be needed to purchase an extra-small head from your local hardware store.

No matter the tool you choose, the important thing is to work carefully if you don’t want to cut into the wall. You don’t need to remove all the grout, and your goal should be to get rid of enough of it until the spacer lugs become visible. Once you can see the metal spacer lugs, this means that you’ve removed enough of the grout to make tile removal possible.

You should now have access to the edge of the tile so that you can slide a putty knife beneath. To learn how you can complete this step without damaging the wall, make sure to take a look at the next section of our article.


Removing the tiles

With the grout out of the way, you can begin to chisel the tiles away from the wall. This approach is more time-consuming, but it is the best one if you don’t want to damage the wall and if you want to reuse the tiles. This method works best with tiles that are old, as it may prove difficult with more recent installations.

To start, you need to insert a putty knife, chisel, or any other flat tool between the tile and the wall. You’ll need to position the tool parallel to the wall so that you don’t damage it. Get a hammer and tap the handle of the tool gently until the tile falls from the wall.

Depending on how well adhered the tile is, you may need to pry it off in multiple places before it comes loose. For this step, you will need to have another person helping you since if there’s no one to catch the tiles as they fall, they will break.

The first tile will always be considerably harder than the rest, so don’t feel discouraged if you’re having difficulties at first. Once you remove the first one, it should take less time to deal with the others. Even if the tile doesn’t seem to budge, you shouldn’t apply too much force since you can risk chipping the wall or the tile.

If you don’t care about reusing the titles or you’re dealing with tiles that are set right into the mortar, then you can remove the tile by breaking it. To do this, you will need to start by placing a chisel in the center of the tile and using a hammer to tap on the handle on the tool until the tile has cracked and pieces of it have fallen on the ground.

When doing this, you will need to be careful not to apply too much force so as not to damage the wall. Now you can insert the putty knife or chisel between the cracked tile and the wall. Tap the handle with the hammer until all the remaining pieces have fallen from the wall.

After removing all the tiles, you will need to use a putty knife to get rid of all of the setting material until you are left with an even wall surface. Before you can install replacement tiles or prepare the wall for painting, you will also need to get rid of all the spacer lugs.

Some of the metal spacer lugs can be left behind during the removal process, in which case you will need to remove them either by cutting them with a knife, breaking them off using pliers, or sanding them down with sandpaper.





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