Nothing dates a bathroom quite like old tile. Whether your walls are sporting a color that went out of style with eight-track tapes or your floor shows too much wear, creating a bathroom you want to spend time in starts with tearing out the old-fashioned tile.
Luckily, this job doesn’t call for much DIY experience. The work will only take a day or two and isn’t a complicated process. We’re here to walk you through how to remove tile yourself safely and efficiently.
Tile removal is a messy job. If you also plan on removing bathroom fixtures as part of your remodel, you’ll end up with too much debris for your garbage service to take at the curb. So, before you get to work, consider renting a 10 yard dumpster to handle the cleanup.
Time to gear up. You’ll need a few tools and protective wear to keep you working safely.
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When the hammers start swinging, you’re going to kick up a lot of dust and debris, so take down glass shower doors to protect them from damage. If you have a shower curtain, remove it from the room along with any window treatments so they won’t collect dust. Tape plastic sheeting over the door, vents and registers in the room to keep dust from filtering into the rest of your house.
Important Safety Tip: If your bathroom was built before 1978 and has paint on parts of the wall, test the paint for lead before you start removing tiles. Lead isn’t very dangerous when it’s left undisturbed; but when it’s chipped, the dust can be extremely harmful—especially for young children.
Once you’ve got the plastic up, remove any baseboards in the room. If you’re planning to reinstall them, here’s how to remove them without damage:
You’ll also need to get your toilet and vanity out of the way. Use our handy guides to walk you through this step.
If you plan to keep these fixtures, store them in an out of the way area while you work. Otherwise, go ahead and toss them in your dumpster. If your mirror isn’t attached to your vanity, take it down as well or cover it with a sheet of plywood for protection.
Time for the demolition work to begin. The easiest way to remove a tile floor is to start at the doorway, where your bathroom floor meets the adjoining room or hallway and work your way in. Remember to clean up loose tile as you go so you always have a clear, safe work area.
Important Safety Tip: Take a look at the adhesive layer underneath the first tile you pry up. If your bathroom floor was installed before 1984 and the adhesive is black and tar-like, it may contain asbestos. Stop your work and call in a professional tile remover who can handle asbestos safely. In the meantime, keep the room closed off so that no one disturbs the material.
Time to move from the bottom of the room to the top. The best way to remove wall tiles is to start at the top and work your way down. Remember to take frequent breaks to carry discarded tiles out to your dumpster so they won’t trip you up as you work.
With your DIY tile removal job behind you, your bathroom is a blank slate you can turn into a true oasis. And you’ve saved yourself a nice chunk of change to put towards your plans for the space. Check out our tips for remodeling a bathroom on a budget to keep costs down without sacrificing style.
Got some more demolition work to do before your bathroom is remodel-ready? Use our complete bathroom demo guide to get the job done.