removing ceramic tile from concrete

rj56November 25, 2011

I have about a 16 sq ft area with ceramic tile in front of a door that needs replaced. It is on a concrete slab. What is the best way to remove it without damaging the slab?

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Dh and I did this ourselves and it was a lot of work. We had ceramic tile on a concrete subfloor in our entry.

Below, I have attached a link to another post about this subject. I responded with some pictures and descriptions of our experience.

A professional who demos and installs flooring will likely do a more efficient job in less time. If you choose to DIY, it can be done. Advil and access to a Jacuzzi is highly recommended : )


Here is a link that might be useful: tear up ceramic tile flooring?

    Bookmark   November 26, 2011 at 4:32PM
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Laurie, oh my gosh, that's exactly what I was afraid of! Definitely will check on renting a tool as was suggested. Had inquired at Lowes but they didn't have any suggestions, so will check at HD. Thanks!

    Bookmark   November 26, 2011 at 8:04PM
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It all depends on what they used to install the tile and the condition of the concrete.

Best case scenario was very smooth/shiney concrete with a non-modified thinset mortal, which the tiles pop easy and the thinset can be scraped with a standard flooring scraper.

Worse case scenatio was rough concrete installed witha modified mortar. Tiles come up in little pieces and the thinset is now a part of the concrete where you take off the high spots and feather it out with floor patch or you need to grind it.

There is middle ground if the concrete was shiney and smooth and they used modified mortar.

Do a test with a hammer and cold chisel to see how easy it will come up and scrape. If its very tough, go rent a small demolition hammer with a 3" scaling bit.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2011 at 12:46AM
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Aim the chisel almost parallel to the concrete at the edge of the tile.

It may pop off intact (or at least in larger pieces).

Portland products are weakest in tension, use that to your advantage.
popping the tiles upwards with a wedge (chisel) at the edge) is the weakest direction.

How are you planning to refinish the area?

Small surface damage will be buried in the thin-set if you replace the tile.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2011 at 10:33AM
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Avanti Tile & Stone (Stonetech)

Just go to Harbor Freight and pick up a Chipping Hammer for under fifty bucks. It'll do the job in short order.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2011 at 10:02PM
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Thank you all for your responses. I'm not sure when the tile was laid, maybe the 80s, it's that common looking pearly white/gray 12inch ceramic, and not sure what it was laid into. Hubby didn't want to attempt it, and I certainly don't want to. Am having a tile guy take a look tomorrow. Thanks again! I love this place!

    Bookmark   November 28, 2011 at 7:59PM
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I have to share this - as we will be doing this job eventually too!

DD13 had to write a paper for science class on Dry Ice and what it was used for. Upon research, we discovered one of its uses was to separate tile from concrete! Maybe itâÂÂs one of those closely guarded secrets of the pros??? :-)

    Bookmark   November 28, 2011 at 11:20PM
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"we discovered one of its uses was to separate tile from concrete"

Vinyl or composite tile, not ceramic.

Vinyl and composite change size enough with temperature (large tempco) to break the glue bind with dry ice shrinking the tile.

Ceramic barely moves (low tempco) so dry ice will not be very effective.

It is the temperature coefficient mismatch between the tile and substrate that allows dry ice to work.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2011 at 10:24AM
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The tile guy has an electric chisel that he would use, or my handyman said he'd just use a garden spade. Probably will get to it next week and let yall know how it went.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2011 at 7:24PM
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