Tile cracks, breaks off, or becomes stained. It happens, especially with older tile. Your first impulse may be to repair the tile, and many homeowners opt for this route as it is the cheapest. Before you make your decision, though, you should investigate both the general condition of your ceramic tile and what’s causing the problems in the first place. You probably don’t want to repair your tile, if it’s only going to fall into disrepair in another year or two. If you decide it’s time to replace your tile, your first step is obviously to remove your old tile.
Removing floor tile can be a difficult and time-consuming project and the challenges often remain hidden until the project is underway. Depending on the construction, the tile may be attached to bare cement, a plywood or mason board underlay or even affixed to a previously installed floor. Whatever lies beneath, removing a tile floor takes time, effort and care to leave the surface ready to accept whatever comes next.
If tile has been installed around a vanity or other semi-permanent fixture, a bare edge will be exposed, providing a good starting point for removal. If tile is wall to wall, it may be necessary to use a hammer and chisel to break out a tile to create a starting point for prying up tiles. Tiles may be attached using adhesives or mortar and may come up easily or require great effort, depending on how it was affixed and the type of underlayment used. A hammer and chisel, pry bar or pole scraper can be used to remove tiles.
In some cases, tiling may have been attached directly to a concrete floor or sub-floor, but a plywood or mortarboard underlayment is common. An inappropriate or damaged underlayment should be removed, but some may be left in place for re-use.
Porcelain tile is extremely hard, and has a very high quartz content. These characteristics cause it to react as if it were glass. Each hammer strike creates conchoidal fractures in the tile. The resulting shards have smooth curved edges that are just like a chipped-flint arrowhead. These edges can be razor sharp, so be extremely careful.
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