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How To Keep Your Bathroom Walls Intact When Removing Tile

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Demolishing a bathroom can be hard work. If you want to update your existing bathroom, you will need to work smart in order to maintain some of the bathroom structure and limit the amount of repair work that will need to be done. Most of the damage to the bathroom can come when removing tile from the walls. Follow these steps to remove the tile from your bathroom while keeping the walls in tact.

Getting Ready

Before beginning any demolition project, make sure you have all the tools you need to get the job done. Also, have a dumpster rental from a company like Road Runner Waste Service Inc in place because you will have a lot of debris to get rid of. Set up buckets around the bathroom as an easy way to dispose of and transport broken tile. This will help to keep your work area cleaner and safer.

Removing the Tile

Removing tile from bathroom walls with a sledgehammer can damage the drywall underneath. Put down the sledgehammer and take a slow, careful approach as outlined here to preserve your walls. The first tile you remove will the be the hardest, but take your time to do it right.

  1. Begin by scraping out the grout around the first tile you are going to remove to create a point of entry.
  2. Wedge a putty knife into the crack you created from removing the grout and push it under the tile.
  3. Pull upward on the knife to pry the tile off.
  4. If you can't get the tile off, tap the knife with a mallet to wedge it farther under the tile.
  5. If you are still having problems removing that first tile, try this: Make an X with masking tape on the tile. Then drill tiny holes in the tile on the X to break it up. You should then be able to pry the pieces off.
  6. Working from this starting point, remove the rest of the tile in the bathroom by carefully prying off the pieces, using a mallet if necessary.
  7. Once all the tile is removed, you will need to scrape off the remaining mortar with a mortar scraper or a putty knife, razor bland, and sander.

Dealing with the Debris

Tile can be really heavy, so as you are working, place the tile debris in buckets. Take frequent trips to the dumpster to empty them. Also, if you are planning on preserving the bathtub, place a large piece of wood over the bathtub. This will serve the dual purpose of keeping out debris from the tub and the drain and give you a platform to stand on to reach the higher tile over the bathtub. Just make sure that the wood is sturdy enough to support your weight.

Be aware that prying off tile and scraping mortar will take significantly longer than smashing the tile.  However, if you really want to preserve your walls and have the time to spare, go slowly and avoid the sledgehammer.