How To Remove Floor Tiles From Concrete

How To Remove Floor Tiles From Concrete?

Removing floor tiles from the ready mix concrete you got during floor installation can be a challenging task for various reasons. Even when you’ve successfully scraped off the tiles, you’ll likely encounter a surface covered in stubborn thin-set or mastic. It can pose an even greater challenge to remove compared to the tiles themselves.

Are there any shortcuts to simplify this process? Not really, unless you opt to hire a professional for the job. However, if you’re ready to take on the task yourself, there are some practical tips on using the right tools, materials, and techniques to safely and efficiently reach the bare concrete with minimal effort.

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Preparation for the Task is Really Important

Preparation Work

Removing tiles from a concrete floor can be a messy and labour-intensive task. Dust and tile fragments are inevitable and may scatter throughout the room. To ensure your safety and comfort, wear safety glasses, work gloves, a dust mask, and knee pads. Additionally, consider wearing long pants and a long-sleeved shirt.

Keep in mind that the shards and stray debris can potentially damage cabinets, walls, windows, and furniture. To prevent this, either remove or cover all furnishings and home décor items.

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Necessary Tools and Materials

The tools and equipment required depend on the project’s size. However, there are some essential items you’ll definitely need when working with concrete; suppliers for these are found easily:

  • Protective gear, including leather gloves, eye protection goggles, knee pads, and a dust mask.
  • Mallet and a hammer.
  • Painter’s tape.
  • Floor scraper.
  • Thin-set mortar.
  • Shop vacuums.
  • Flat trowel.
  • Carpenter’s level.
  • Cold chisel.
  • Electric tile stripper.
  • Broom and a dustpan.

If you prefer a quicker approach, power tools like a hammer drill with a suitable bit or a larger rotary hammer can help expedite the project.

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Let’s Get Started with the Project

Identifying the Attachment of Tiles to the Ready Mix Concrete Floor

If the tiles are floating or click-in-place, a simple technique involves sliding a thin pry bar beneath one edge and gently lifting the tile. In cases where this method doesn’t succeed, your tiles are likely adhered using either thin-set or mastic adhesive, or possibly both.

To discern if mastic adhesive is in use, take a chisel or pry bar and scrape around the edges of each tile. If you encounter a gummy layer of adhesive underneath, it’s probable that your tiles are secured with mastic.

If the scraping reveals no gummy residue and the pry bar fails to make the tiles budge, it suggests that thin-set mortar is holding the tiles in place.

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Removing Mortar Set Ceramic Tiles

Method 1: Removing Tiles With a Masonry Chisel

If you need to remove mortar set ceramic tiles, here are two methods to consider. If you need anything during the process, you can most likely find it with your concrete supplier or someone they know

Step 1: Locate Starting Point

If you’re working in a small area, use a grout saw to grind away the surrounding grout of the tiles you wish to remove. This protects adjacent tiles from damage. However, if you’re removing the entire floor, skip this step.

Create a starting point by either choosing an area with loose grout or holding a cold chisel perpendicular to the tile’s face and fracturing it with a sledgehammer.

Step 2: Remove Tiles

For optimal results, use a masonry chisel approximately 2.5cm wide. Insert the chisel between the concrete floor and the tile at a 45-degree angle. Use a sledgehammer or mallet to force it down, lifting the tile edge and breaking the bond with the floor.

Use the chisel to pry the tile section and completely remove it. Repeat this process until the task is complete.

Alternatively, a flat shovel or floor scraper can be used. Start at the designated point, slide the floor scraper under the attached tile remnants, and pry it away from the subfloor surface.

For stubborn tiles, strike them with the chisel to facilitate removal. Clear away broken pieces to create enough space for safe continuation. Alternate between scraping and hammering to unveil the entire area.

Exercise caution when handling tile shards, as their edges can be sharp and may cut through gloves, especially with porcelain tiles.

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Method 2: Removing Tiles Using a Hammer Drill

When faced with ceramic tiles deeply embedded in thin-set mortar, the previous method might prove challenging. A hammer drill with a chisel attachment can simplify and expedite the removal process.

Step 1: Find Your Starting Point

Identify your starting point as you did in the previous method, or create one using a chisel, mallet, or hammer drill.

Step 2: Remove Tiles

Attach the chisel tip or floor scraping attachment to your hammer drill, placing it at an angle on the established starting point. Activate the drill and move systematically from one tile to the next until all tiles are removed. This method helps loosen the mortar, reducing the effort required for later scraping.

The hammer drill functions similarly to a jackhammer, delivering rapid hits with the chisel to break through tiles and grout, transforming the floor into manageable debris. Although still demanding, this approach is more efficient than individually removing tiles with a masonry chisel.

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Removing Vinyl Tiles From Ready Mix Concrete Floor

These tiles are pliable and won’t crack like ceramic tiles. So, you need something else

Step 1: Pry Up a Corner of the Tile

Using a putty knife, pry up a corner of a single tile. If no loose corner is available, a utility knife may be needed to cut through the tile.

Step 2: Lift the Tile

Slide a floor scraper or putty knife beneath the tile and lift it. If resistance is encountered, use a heat gun or hair dryer to soften the adhesive glue, making it easier to scrape up the tiles.

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Cleaning and Restoring Your Floor

Before progressing to your next flooring project, thoroughly clean the floor of all debris, including any rough adhesive, mortar, or tile remnants.

  • Sweep Away Loose Debris: Use a broom to brush off all loose debris and dust. Employ a shop vac to effectively suck up small debris and lingering dust particles.
  • Remove Adhesive Residue and Hardened Mortar: Utilise a floor scraper to eliminate any adhesive residue and hardened mortar. For stubborn residues, a wire brush can be effective, though caution is advised on delicate surfaces like marble.
  • Final Cleaning: Employ a mop or wet-dry vacuum to clean the entire floor and eliminate any remaining dust or debris. For a more thorough cleaning, consider using a pressure washer.

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How to Level a Concrete Floor After Tile Removal

Grind down the surface. This task often requires heavy-duty machinery and is best handled by professionals for optimal results. Alternatively, for addressing small uneven areas in the subfloor before laying new tiles or other flooring, a self-leveling compound (SLC) can be used. You can find these compounds at any concrete supplier you got your ready mix concrete from

Read more: How to Level a Concrete Floor

Pro-Mix Concrete is the Supplier You Need

Ready mix concrete or a self-levelling compound, know that you can find everything with Pro Mix Concrete. All you have to do is let us know what you need and leave the rest to us.