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Removing Tile Flooring

Old tile flooring can hide a multitude of problems – especially in bathrooms, where there may have been water leakage
over a course of many years. Expect the unexpected when you launch into
removing old tile flooring, because there may be considerable work to
do in preparing the exposed subflooring before installing new floor
covering of any kind. Since almost all tile flooring
is installed with glue, at the very least you can expect to find a glue
removal project remaining after the old tile has been removed.

The Tile Doctor strongly recommends wearing safety glasses and gloves during the tile removal process. This is particularly important when removing ceramic tile, which can shatter and cause injury during the removal process.

Depending on the type of tile you are removing, you will need tools to meet the specific job requirements.
For example, ceramic tile may need to be broken up with a sledgehammer
until there is enough exposed subflooring to get under with a floor
scraper. In other cases, such as with linoleum tile, a chisel and
strong spackling knife will give you the leverage you need to begin the

James Young, a DIY home improvement expert, shares useful tips on the DIY Network. Among his suggestions are:

  • If you’re not interested in saving the tile, the simplest method is to simply break up the tile with a hammer and scrape away the remains. Place a towel over the section of tile that you’re removing to prevent shards from flying up. Making certain that you have eye-protection, use a small sledgehammer to strike the tile through the towel, breaking it up into pieces.
  • Use a hand-scraper to remove any remaining pieces and floor adhesive that is left behind.
  • Once you’ve removed the tile and adhesive, you’ll likely have some gouges and dents in the floor. Use floor-leveling compound (available at home centers) to fill in the gaps to create a flat surface.

When the old tile flooring is removed, your next project is to assess the state of the subflooring and determine what’s needed to make it ready for the new flooring.
Your first step is to learn what the requirements are for the new
flooring you’ve selected. Consult the manufacturer’s installation
instructions to see what the manufacturer recommends as far as prepped
surfacing. This will help you determine how much, or how little, you
need to do prior to installing the new flooring.

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