DIY Techniques: Removing tiles and the tools you will need

Leaving tiles in place and painting or tiling over them is often the easiest option, but if you want a flat finish for painting or wallpapering the tiles will need to be removed.

Removing ceramic tiles

Tiles in older houses may be stuck to the wall with cement mortar—sometimes 15mm thick. If you remove them you will probably need to have the wall plastered before you can decorate.

Tiles stuck with adhesive are easier to get off, but they may pull plaster with them. In this case, the surface will need to be made good.

Tools

  • Heavy duty gloves
  • Safety goggles
  • Dust mask
  • Wide steel masonry chisel (bolster)
  • Club hammer
  • Paint scraper
  • Possibly also: power sander.

Before you start: Put on protective clothing—splinters of glass from the glaze will fly in all directions as you chip away at the tiles. Close doors to prevent dust escaping from the room.

1. Prise the tiles away from the wall one at a time with a bolster chisel and a club hammer. Some will come away in one piece, others may crack and break.

There is no easy technique—continue to chisel until you have removed all of the tiles.

2. Use a sharp paint or wallpaper scraper to remove any adhesive left on the wall. If the tiles were stuck with cement mortar you will need to continue chipping with the bolster chisel.

 

Removing polystyrene tiles and cork tiles

Tools Wide stripping knife or bolster chisel; safety goggles; possibly a hot-air gun.

1. Lever tiles away from the surface using a wide stripping knife or bolster chisel. They are more likely to break into pieces than come off as one complete tile.

Although the tiles will come away relatively easily, some adhesive - which is difficult to remove - is likely to remain on the walls after that.

2. Use a hot-air gun to apply heat direct to the remaining glue and then scrape it off with a stripping knife.