The Quick Guide to Removing Tiles and Preparing Them for Reuse

If you’ve been eyeing up your bathroom or kitchen tiles for some time, putting off their removal or considering paying someone else to do it, then give this guide a read and get those DIY juice flowing again. Removing your tiles can seem like a daunting task, which is why many people often opt for professional contractors, but it’s really not that difficult and there’s no reason why you can’t do it yourself.

Once you’ve removed them, however, they may still have mortar (the stuff that attaches the tiles to the wall or floor) stuck to the back of them, which will need cleaning off if you wish to reuse the tiles at any point. To help you remove your tiles and then clean them for reusing, here’s a handy guide that will take you through each step of the process.

What you’ll need:

  • Protective goggles
  • Clothes you don’t mind getting dirty
  • Sharp utility knife
  • Putty knife
  • Hammer
  • White spirit or solvent-based cleaner
  • Sponge x2

Step 1

Get your goggles and grubby clothes on, there’s going to be some dust in the air with this sort of job. You should also make sure that the area is well ventilated, because you’ll be using white spirit. Use the utility knife to cut into the grout (the filler between the tiles) surrounding the tiles and remove as much of it as possible using the putty knife and hammer.

Step 2

Here’s where the prying starts. Slide the putty knife under, from as flat an angle as you feel you can without damaging the tiles. Don’t push it in too far, because now you’re going to be doing some chiselling. Gently tap the back of the putty knife with the hammer to gradually displace the tile from the floor or wall. Don’t get discouraged if you end up breaking the first tile – this is the most difficult to remove.

Step 3

Once the first tile is gone, the rest of the them will be easier, because you’ll have a clear side to really get the putty knife down low. Go ahead and remove the others using the same technique, taking care not to be too vigorous with your hammering.

Step 4

Lay all of the tiles upside down and use the putty knife to scrape as much of the mortar off the backs as you can. Be careful not to be too enthusiastic or you may end up breaking a tile.

Step 5

To get rid of the more stubborn mortar, you’ll need to use the white spirit. Soak the first sponge in white spirit and wipe it on the backs of the tiles. Wait 2-3 minutes to allow the cleaner to dissolve the mortar and then use the second sponge, soaked in water, to wipe them clean.

Your tiles are now free of mortar and grout and ready to be reused wherever or however you wish. They could be put in another room, or even given entirely new lives as coasters or wall art. Hopefully this guide will provide you with the knowledge and confidence to carry out your own DIY tile removal.