how to remove wall tiles

How To Remove Wall Tiles Like A Pro

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We’ve all got home improvement projects we know we should crack on with. According to research from B & Q at the start of 2019, Brits typically have 16 small projects either on the go or on their minds.

The same research also revealed that replacing tiling was a project one in six respondents felt needed to be done at home.

So what’s holding people back from replacing tiles which they know need a refresh? Perhaps it’s the fact they don’t know how to get rid of them properly.

Our guide on how to remove wall tiles like a pro will teach you everything you need to know, and it could even save you a bundle compared to calling in a professional tiler.


Tools & Materials

Tools:

  • Safety goggles
  • Work gloves
  • Face mask
  • Utility knife, angle grinder or another grout-removing tool
  • Hammer
  • Chisel
  • Scraper

Materials:

  • Dust sheets (and newspaper or card)
  • Masking tape
  • Sandpaper (or sander)

Instructions

Removing wall tiles isn’t as onerous a task as you might think. You just need to know the best way to take on the job. That way, you can redo your bathroom or refresh any other area of tiling in your home in no time.

You might even try taking on a daring DIY project, like blogger Melanie ​​Lissack’s Kitchen Splashback. Whatever your goal, the following steps should get you there.

1. Taking Precautions

You need to think ‘safety first’ before you start removing tiles, preparing both yourself and your work area properly.

Removing wall tiles creates both dust and sharp pieces of tile. To protect yourself from both, you’ll need some sturdy gloves, safety goggles and possibly a face mask.

Bits of falling tile can wreak havoc on bathroom suites and laminate floors, so cover as much of the area around the wall as you can with dust sheets.

To ensure ceramic or porcelain fixtures are well protected from falling objects, you might also want to put some newspaper or card under the sheets. For more information on protecting your work area (and yourself), check out our guide to painting with zero mess.

Pro Tip: You may need to take precautions against dust-related problems. You’re likely to create a lot of dust if you’re removing a large number of tiles. If these particles build up in drains or air vents, they can cause problems further down the line, so try to cover or seal any vents in the immediate vicinity of where you’ll be working.

2. Give Yourself The Best Access

Depending on where you’re working, there might be different fixtures and fittings that could get in the way of your work. As much as possible, it helps to get these out of the way.

For instance, turn off the power to the room you’re working in before unscrewing and lifting away any plug sockets or light fittings that may be hindering your access to specific tiles.

3. Removing Grout

removing old bathroom tiles

Your next step is to scrape the grout away from between the tiles. This is more difficult with wall tiles than floor tiles, as they’re often more closely spaced. The process of removing grout isn’t a complicated one, though – all you’re looking to do is to scrape the grout away.

There are a number of different tools you can use for this, and the following video looks at the pros and cons of each option:

Pro Tip: You might not need to remove the grout from between every tile you’re taking down. If you’re removing a whole wall of tiles, you can generally concentrate on scraping away the grout by the ceiling, the floor and up the edges of each wall.

4. Removing Tiles

man removes wall tiles with hammer and chisel

You’re now ready to start removing the tiles themselves. All you need for this is your hammer and chisel, plus a bit of elbow grease.

A good way to start is to tap each tile with the handle of your chisel, to try to find one that’s loose. If you do, that’ll make it easier to get started.

Try and position your chisel between each tile and the wall, and then tap it into the crack with your hammer. You don’t want to gouge the wall, so keep the angle of the chisel shallow.

If you’re lucky, tiles will come away in one piece. If not, you’ll have to repeat the process for each different piece. You may even have to break tiles manually if you can’t get your chisel behind them.

Pro Tip: It pays to try and get tiles away in one piece, enabling you to reuse them or even repurpose them. The guys over at Fall For DIY have assembled a handy guide on turning old tiles into stylish coasters.

5. Cleaning Up The Adhesive

Once all the tiles are down, you’ll still have some patches of adhesive on the wall. You need to get rid of this, but fortunately, it’s not too difficult. It’s certainly easier than removing the tiles themselves!

Chip the worst of the adhesive away with your chisel, and use a scraper on the rest. You can then sand down the wall area to make it smooth for redecorating or retiling.

6. Transform Your Wall

bathroom in grey and blue colours

With the tiles gone and the surface sanded, your wall is a blank canvas. It’s ready for you to update or transform however you see fit.

If you’re going to replace old tiles with new ones, this in-depth guide from Tile Mountain tells you how to do it right.


Final Thoughts

Now you’ve read our guide on how to remove wall tiles like a pro, there’s no need to let those tired old tiles bug you any longer. 

With a bit of time and elbow grease, you can turn any wall into a blank canvas, ready to be made as stylish as your home deserves.

If you’ve enjoyed this guide, or have a question, feel free to leave a comment below.

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