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 underlayment 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.
Empty the room and remove any fixtures that may impede the process of removing the tile. Turn off water supply before removing a sink or toilet. If removing a toilet, drain reservoir, remove bolt and rock the fixture to break wax seal.
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. Access the underlayment and remove to expose the sub-floor, if necessary.