11 DIY Tile Removal Tools and Safety Gear
Tearing out old tile can be a grueling job, but you can make it easier with these must-have tile removal tools and accessories.
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The most fundamental tool for tile removal — especially for wall tiles — a wedge-shaped masonry chisel lets you get underneath tiles and, ideally, pop them out. There’s something really satisfying about old tiles coming out in one piece, even if you don’t intend to reuse them.
We like this Irwin 1-3/4-in. masonry chisel ($14 at Lowe’s) because of its built-in hand guard, a welcome safety feature when your aim is a little off.
For tile removal, some DIYers prefer to combine a mallet hammer with a masonry chisel. And that combo will certainly work. But with a conventional claw hammer, like the 16-ounce smooth face steel head claw hammer from Kobalt ($18 at Lowe’s), you have an extra tool in your hand. Use the claw end for ripping out tile that doesn’t give way with the chisel.
Broken tile is sharp stuff. You risk cutting yourself on a tile shard, rubbing up blisters from holding a chisel and bashing your hand with a hammer. So it makes sense to invest in a decent pair of work gloves.
We like these Ironclad utility work gloves (from $14 on Amazon), which come in six sizes and rate highly for their durability and comfort.
Combine flying tile shards with bare eyes and you might end up in the emergency room. Protect yourself with a pair of lightweight safety goggles, like these 3M Virtua anti-fog safety glasses (less than $5 at Ace Hardware). They’re a smart, inexpensive investment. You’ll thank us the first time a piece of tile or grout bounces off the goggles.
Make quick work of vinyl tile removal and save your back and knees with a long-handled floor scraper, like this Warner 4-inch carbon steel heavy-duty scraper with 48-inch handle ($33 at Ace Hardware). Its thin yet durable carbon steel blade is skinny enough to get under linoleum tile and peel it up like playing cards. Blades are replaceable, too.
If you have a big project, like a bathroom renovation requiring quick work of old tile and the walls underneath, go straight for a sledgehammer.
They come as lightweight as four pounds, but most DIYers can handle something heavier, like this Kobalt eight-pound steel head fiberglass sledgehammer ($35 at Lowe’s). Just make sure you have enough room to swing without causing collateral damage.
They don’t build ’em like they used to, often to the chagrin of DIYers. Old, well-installed ceramic tile can be a bear to tear out, and you may need to call in the power tools.
A lightweight one, like this compact Craftsman air hammer with a chisel attachment ($45 at Ace Hardware), makes quick work of stubborn tile without being unwieldy. This is a tile removal tool you’ll find lots of other DIY uses for, too.
If your tile removal job is more about repair than demolition, take things down a notch with some precision hand tools.
This Marshalltown two-inch steel blade grout saw ($11 at Lowe’s) lets you carve away grout from between tiles, making it easier to wedge a chisel underneath. It comes with a replaceable tungsten carbide-coated blade, and Marshalltown tools are known for their comfort and durability.
We speak from experience. Removing tiles by hand involves repeated pounding of a hammer against a chisel, and it’s really hard on your wrist, to the point where it can cause painful injury.
If you have a big job in front of you, give your hammer-swinging wrist a break with a protective brace, like his one from BraceUp ($13 on Amazon). It’s a preventative measure you’ll be glad you took.
You made the mess, and now you have to haul it away! Discarded tile, grout and adhesive is heavy. So if you’ve got a big job, you’ll need a sturdy wheelbarrow like this Jackson 6-cu.-ft. wheelbarrow with flat-free tire ($149 at Lowe’s). A transfer shovel speeds the clean-up, too.
We’re all about safety and preserving our backs, wrists and knees to DIY another day!
If a tile removal job requires crawling around a lot, protect your knees with durable pads, like these Rexbeti construction gel knee pads ($27 on Amazon). We like that they’re adjustable without bulk behind the knee, which makes crouching a lot easier.
All prices and links were current as of publication.