Start with a chisel and hand maul
1 of 2
Chisel up tiles
Work the chisel between the tiles and the concrete, hammering them up with a 2-lb. maul.
2 of 2
Smooth the old concrete
After all the tile is broken up, spread thin-set mortar over the concrete to level and smooth it before laying the new floor.
There’s no easy way to do
this. Unlike tile on cement
board or wood, there’s no
underlayment or subfloor that can be
pried up and thrown away. Removing
tile from concrete requires knocking
out the tiles and adhesive. It takes time
and hard work. Even a small bathroom
will take half a day, at a minimum.
Use a 3/4- or 1-in. masonry chisel and a
2-lb. hand maul. Start at a broken tile or
between tiles where the grout has loosened.
Work the chisel under the tiles, forcing
them loose. Strike the face of stubborn tiles to break
them up for easier removal. Wear
safety glasses, gloves, pants and a
long-sleeve shirt, since hammering
the tile sends sharp shards
flying. Also wear a dust mask.
Typically, older floors with
mastic adhesive will come up
easier than floors laid with thinset
mortar. Rent a small jackhammer
with a chisel point if the
tile refuses to come loose. For
larger rooms, consider renting an
electric tile stripper.
After you remove the tiles,
chisel and scrape the adhesive off
the concrete as well. If you can’t
get it all, don’t worry. You can
leave bits of adhesive up to 1/8 in.
thick. Then use the flat side of a
12-in. trowel to apply a 1/8-in.
layer of latex thin-set mortar
over the floor.
This is to fill in voids and level
around remaining bits of adhesive.
If you’re installing new tile,
use the same latex thin-set to set
the tile. Thin-set holds ceramic
tiles better than mastic and is
easier to work with.
Keep in mind that the easiest
solution of all is to leave the old
tile in place and install new tile
directly over the old. The new
floor will be slightly higher, so
you’ll have to trim the door and
extend the toilet ring. For more
details, talk with an expert at a local tile store