Sustainably Remove & Reuse Ceramic Tiles in Under 20 Minutes

February 7, 2022

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Have you recently purchased an older home with ceramic tile floors that are starting to look worn or damaged? With the right tools and techniques, it’s possible to remove ceramic tiles in your home. So how do you sustainably remove & reuse ceramic tiles? Here’s some good information to keep in mind before you start that project. Whether you’re completing a tile backsplash removal or bathroom flooring removal, our pros are here to guide you through the process.

Can you remove and reuse ceramic tiles?

If you’re stuck with old tile flooring that you don’t love, don’t worry. Removing ceramic tiles isn’t as difficult as it may seem. You can remove and reuse them if you have time to prepare for your project and are patient during your efforts. This process requires a few steps, so read through to learn how to remove and reuse ceramic tiles from your home.

You should always consider safety as you remove and reuse ceramic tiles. Wear gloves, protective eyewear, and a long-sleeved shirt to avoid cuts and scrapes when you work. You’ll also need rubber boots or shoes to walk on flooring as you remove old tiles.

removing ceramic tiles

Is it worth it?

Removing ceramic tiles is a great project for DIY enthusiasts and tile-changers alike. This hard surface is difficult to remove without damaging either surfaces underneath or leaving pieces behind, but a few key tools and precautions can make all of that a thing of the past. Here’s how to get started safely removing ceramic tiles from your floor, walls, or countertops!

Many older houses were built with these sturdy, timeless tiles, and they offer a certain charm and style when paired with antique furniture or rustic decor. For more practical purposes, these hard-wearing tiles can be re-used as well. If you’re looking for a low-cost alternative to more expensive materials like granite or marble, recycled tiles may be just what you need!

However, old ceramic tiles can also be an inconvenience. Some homeowners may find that their old tiles are cracked, discolored, or simply out of style. When it comes time to change your decor or update your flooring, removing and reusing these tiles is a great option. Not only does it cut down on waste and help you stretch your budget further but it’s also a fun project for anyone with some DIY experience!

Typically ceramic tiles cost $5 to $10 per square foot. This can make for a huge savings depending on the size of your project. Even if you only reuse half tiles, you’ll still spend less than half as much as if you were to purchase new tile! If that doesn’t sound like something you want to do, there are plenty of other options when it comes time to choose new flooring materials. However, these old-fashioned beauties might just be what you need—and removing and reusing them is an excellent way of extending their life span! However, if you’re hesitant it’s best to call in expert kitchen or bath remodelers to complete the job.

Why do people reuse tiles?

Removing and reusing tiles will save you money when starting over. Although most people might think that it’s best to completely remove tiles from a floor, there are times when it’s better to reuse them. 

In some cases, it’s not always necessary to remove all of your old tiles. When tile is installed directly onto concrete, you can usually reuse them without a problem. However, there are times when removing and reusing old tile is impossible. If your new flooring won’t be installed right on top of your old flooring, you may need to remove all of your tiles so they aren’t visible underneath. Before you get started, make sure that removing and reusing your old tiles is even an option!

There are several reasons why people choose to reuse old tiles instead of starting from scratch. The most obvious reason is that it can save you a lot of money. In some cases, you might even be able to reuse existing tile for free! However, there are other times when reusing tiles just makes sense.

bathroom ceramic tile

Safely removing tiles

To remove ceramic tiles, grab a hammer and chisel. Do not use a sledgehammer or any other device that may damage your flooring. Carefully tap around each tile with your chisel until you create an opening large enough to grasp it with your fingers. Then pull firmly on each tile as you loosen it from its base. 

Once you’ve loosened all of your tiles, they should pop off easily. If they don’t come away, tap them again with your chisel to loosen any remaining adhesive. Once you have removed all of your tiles, clean up any dust and debris left behind by using a wet/dry vacuum or a cloth dampened with water.

Adhesive removers

Removing adhesive from ceramic tile is tricky, so you’ll want to use a solvent-based adhesive remover. As with any type of chemical product, test it on an inconspicuous part of your floor before using it on any larger area. Use a clean rag to apply solvent to adhesive; then let stand for 5 minutes before scrubbing with a nylon brush. Work in small sections to prevent over-saturating one area.

If you’re planning to reuse your ceramic tile, remember that a solvent-based adhesive remover could leave residue that will make it difficult for tiles to stick together again. If you want to be able to reattach any removed tiles, consider using a non-solvent remover instead. These cleaners are often mixed with water, and they can help dissolve old adhesive without changing its chemical composition.

For an even easier way to remove ceramic tile, use heat gun. This handy tool can help loosen adhesive that is often impossible to dissolve with other types of removers. Heat guns are sold at most hardware stores. Before you begin heating any type of flooring, it’s also a good idea to sweep or vacuum up loose debris first—otherwise you may end up burning whatever was left behind by mistake! After prepping your floor as needed, hold your heat gun close (but not touching) to sections of adhesion until they start melting and lifting away from surface. Work in small sections until all tiles have been removed.

old ceramic tiles needing removal

Cleaning the tiles

Cleaning is essential, since there will be a lot of dust after removing ceramic tiles. To clean them efficiently and effectively, use a power washer or pressure washer to blast off all of that grime. Keep in mind that pressure washing may scratch some surfaces, so it’s important to wear protective gear and make sure you test on an area first before using on your actual tile. Once you’ve cleaned off your ceramic tiles with water, dry them with a towel.

When you’re ready to remove your unsightly, old ceramic tiles, give our team at Kansas City Kitchen Remodeling a call. We specialize in tile removal and tile installation for kitchen and bathroom remodels.

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