Remove old tiles without destroying the wall

Author: dpinning  //  Category: DIY Tips, Home Improvements, Tiles

Anyone who is giving an old kitchen or bathroom a revamp is likely to need to remove old tiles from the walls. When removing old tiles is the only option, the first piece of advice is to proceed with caution and not go at it with a sledgehammer – even though this can be very tempting. If you do this, the cost of repairing great holes in the walls will add enormously to your budget. Do not imagine that the damage doesn’t matter because it will be hidden behind new tiles – the surface has to be even for the new tiles to be straight and level.

One of the most important factors in how you approach this job is the type of adhesive used on the old tiling. Tiles stuck on with modern adhesives tend to come away cleanly, and need only a few taps with a small hammer and chisel around the edges of each tile. The chisel should be almost flat with the wall, gently weakening the join between the tile and wall with each tap. 

The hardest tiles to dislodge, however, are those stuck on with old-fashioned cement. A hammer drill, or plain mid-sized hammers with a range of chisels are the best tools for this job. It is very difficult to avoid all damage to the wall, so the key is to keep it as minimal as possible. This is achieved by tackling one tile at a time. Chisel directly into the grout around each tile, at a right angle, to separate it. Then chisel carefully around it, almost flat to the wall, until the tile comes away. Sweep up debris as you go along. If you take care and don’t rush it, your walls should only need minor repairs before re-tiling.

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