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Thread: Bath tile removal

  1. #1

    Unhappy Bath tile removal

    Is there a way to remove the lower layer of tile other than with a hammer and chisel? It takes for ever this way?:

  2. #2
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    San Diego


    Are we talking ceramic wall tile, or multiple layers of vinyl on a floor?

  3. #3


    If you're talking ceramic wall tile, you can cut out the tile, still glued to the greenboard (water rock). Of course, you'll have to replace the green board before you redo the tiling.

    If you're talking vinyl floor tiling, there are some good flooring removers out there. You can by a homeowners model at the hardware store for about $20-$30. You can also rent a professional floor remover.

  4. #4


    I have a similar issue for wall tiles around my tub. I would like to take out the lowest row, so I can remove the tub. I would not mind cutting out the greenboard because then I will replace it with concrete board. If I choose to cut it out with the greenboard, how do I get the greenboard off the wall once I cut it? Am I likely to be able to preserve the tile if I do it this way (seems safer than trying to pry it off the greenboard)?

  5. #5


    The only way you are going to be able to remove both the bottom row of tile and the green board together is to slice cleanly through the grout line and on through the GB. The only tool I can think of that will have the power and depth will be an angle grinder with a 4" wheel.

    It's gonna be a mess and it's unlikely that you'll be able to free hand this cut with enough accuracy to preserve the 2nd row tiles.

    Best bet: use a cold chisel to break the bottom row (using a chisel will concentrate the force of the hammer blow). You will want to remove the grout from between the 1st and 2nd rows first to minimize the chance of cracking any 2nd row tiles. Once the tiles are off use a drywall knife to cut out the green board (if that's what is really there).

    Tile bits are going to be flying - use eye protection or have a ride to the hospital lined up before you start.

    If I remember correctly, my memory is excellent, but my ability to access it is not.

  6. #6


    I agree with ss: Use a grout removal saw or a dremel with grout removal bit to remove all the grout between the first and second rows of tile. Also, cut out the caulk between the tub and the first row of tiles. Then you can use a thin cold chisel and painters 5 in 1 tool to pry the tiles from the green board and possibly reuse them if they're in good shape. You can then cut out the few inches of green board with a drywall knife or dremel or rotozip with a drywall bit.

    It's also possible to cut out the tiles and the greenboard together once you've removed the grout by using the aforementioned dremel or rotozip drywall bit, but since the greenboard will have been screwed or nailed in place, you will probably just make a big mess that way and not be able to reuse the tiles. Usually tilers will cut out the greenboard with the tiles still attached when they are just demoing the shower area with no intention of reusing anything.

  7. #7
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    New England


    For the record...the national codes no longer allow greenboard in wet areas. Not all local codes have changed. There never was a really good reason for greenboard. If it is wet, it should be cement board (cbu). If it is dry, then regular drywall is stronger, cheaper, and accepts tile and thinset quite well. Greenboard also tends to droop on a ceiling, and requires 12" on center supports (less on a wall), which most people don't honor. It is false confidence when using it.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014


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