How To Remove A Tile Floor From Plywood? [Do It Like A Pro]

How To Remove A Tile Floor From Plywood

A tile flooring over plywood is a good look for your house. Tiles are easy to clean, hard, and have good decorations. You have had your floor for a few years, but now it’s time to upgrade.

This may be due to the tile wearing or even because they don’t match the new wall design you installed. So before installing new tiles, you need to remove old ones. The following is a hands-on guide on how to remove a tile floor from plywood.

Plywood has been used as an underlayment for years. Underlayment is used to protect the subfloor from damage. Plywood provides a good underlayment because it can bind easily to tile mortar.

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This also ensures an excellent quality tile flooring firmly adhered to the surface. I am a self-proclaimed floor specialist. I will give you tips and skills required to remove a tile floor from plywood. Let’s get started.

A Complete Guide To Remove Tile Floors From Plywood: 7 Steps To Go

You probably want to get rid of your old tile flooring. It may be because you want to replace your toilet and tub or just want to put on a new floor idea. The following is a do-it-by-yourself guide on how to remove a tile floor from plywood.

Step 1: Required Materials

The following are the materials required to begin your task. You can purchase the materials you do not have or maybe rent them. Stay to the capability of your budget.

  • Safety glasses; 
  • Earplugs;
  • Respirator;
  • work gloves;
  • Hammer;
  • Guardian brick chisel;
  • flat pry bar;
  • floor scraper;
  • Oscillating tool;
  • Detailed sander.

Step 2: Workspace Preparation 

Remove everything that is on top of the floor. Take out the furniture and leave the room empty. If it’s the bathroom,  remove the tub and toilet. Cover the openings to reduce the pungent smell and prevent particles from entering. This will give you an easy time working on your floor without any interruptions.

Step 3: Wear Safety Equipment

Broken ceramic tile cuts like a sharp blade. Make sure you wear work gloves. The whole process will involve a lot of particles and noise. It is recommended you wear safety glasses and earplugs. Also, put on a respirator because the entire process will be dusty. Knee pads will also come in handy when removing the tiles with a chisel.

Step 4: Creating A Starting Point.

If your floor was well furnished, and there is no area to start your work, don’t worry. Just break a tile either from one end of the floor or in the middle. Use a hammer to crush the tile. Apply minimal power not to damage the plywood.

Remove the pieces of the broken tile. There, you know, have an area to start on your work.

Step 5: Removing The Tiles

Once the first tile is removed,  you can now use your chisel and hammer to dig up the remaining tiles. Simply lay down the chisel at the floor line near the center of the tile and strike sideways in the bottom of the tile, breaking it free.

This helps you to remove whole tiles rather than break them on top. Repeat the process for the remaining tiles. You can also use a rotary hammer with a cement chisel as a faster way. Just be extra careful not to damage the underlying subflooring.

Step 6: Removing The Mastic

For the tiles to stick to the plywood, a mastic is applied. When removing the tile from the floor, it doesn’t come out with the mastic. You should never place any tile flooring over an old mastic. 

It is recommended to use a power floor scraper. Move the scraper across the floor to have an even clearing. Staying in one spot may cause the plywood to chip off.

Step 7: Preparing The Floor For The Next Installation 

Fill any dents in the plywood with wood filler. An epoxy filler is mainly recommended. Later smoothen the whole floor. Use a sander for a smooth finish. Clean the floor and leave it to dry. This helps increase the efficiency of plywood.

It also makes sure that the floor is ready for the next installation. Avoid applying a new tile flooring over old plywood. It reduces the effectiveness of the new floor.

3 Mistakes That Should Be Avoided When Removing Tile From Plywood

If you are a beginner in tile replacement, you can make some mistakes. The following are some mistakes that should be avoided when removing tile from plywood. Avoid them, and you will have an easy time and a high rate of success with minimal damage to your plywood.

1. Lack Of Proper Pieces Of Equipment:

Always ensure you have the right tools to help you better in the removal process.  Lack of proper tools can cause delay to your work and also lead to you causing damage to your subfloor. Use a chisel and a hammer to remove the tile, and then a hammer drill for the mortar. This ensures success in your tile removal task.

2. Lack Of Safety Gear:

Tile removal is considered a simple task. One that you can do in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. This is not always the case. Broken tile pieces are as sharp as a blade, and direct body contact should be avoided. Always wear safety gear and cover your body well to prevent injuries.

3. Breaking The Tile From The Top:

While this may seem like the most straightforward approach, breaking the tiles from above is the last thing you want to do. It may cause you to apply more force, making you break through your plywood. Always use a hammer and a chisel for tile removal. Insert the chisel at an angle below the till and hit with the hammer, and pry up the tile.

Tips And Tricks To Remove Tile From Plywood Risk-Free

Removing tiles from plywood can be hectic at times. You might start at a rough edge for someone who is just beginning. The following are quick tips and tricks to jump you from beginner level to a pro. It will help you save on time and also from damaging your subfloor. These tips will also help protect you from self-harm and also unwanted expenses.

  • Proper Tools:

Preparation is the key to success. Having the right tools is vital for successful tile removal. You will need two primary instruments for the following task, a hammer, and a chisel. You can use a regular claw hammer, but I suggest using the guardian brick chisel for the chisel.

It comes with a nice handle equipped with a guard. This helps you from missing the chisel and hitting yourself. It is also cheap to purchase. You can use the pulsing hammer drill with a tile chisel bit for fast tile removal. It increases the removal process ten times. It is a bit expensive, but it is worth the money if you want to renovate the whole house.

  • Safety Gear:

One can never be too careful when it comes to this task. Breaking tiles may seem an effortless task, but it can be dangerous. Broken tile is as sharp as a blade and can easily cut through your skin. It is advised to wear protective leather gloves during the whole task. 

The whole process is noisy and dusty, and also, pieces of ceramic may jump into your eyes. Always wear safety glasses, earplugs, and a dust mask before engaging.

  • Technique:

Having the right tools is not all you require to be a pro tile remover. Knowing and applying the proper technique is also vital to completing the above task. It is recommended to break the first piece of tile so that you can have a starting point for your work. Usually, break one that is in the middle or at a corner. 

After removing the broken tile, always insert the chisel at an angle near the floor line near the center of the tile and strike sideways. This increases the speed of tile removal and makes sure you remove whole tile pieces. It is also less dusty and noisy than breaking the tile from the top.

  • Workspace Preparation:

Always ensure that you have a clear working space. This will help you ease movement and have an easy time removing the tile flooring.  If it is the bathroom, remove the tub and the toilet and cover the outlets with a plastic bag. This prevents the pungent smell. The free workspace will give you an easy time removing the tile flooring.

Related Questions:

How Do You Remove Ceramic Tile Glued To Plywood?

First, you need to purchase a tile scraper. I suggest a hammer drill with a chisel. It costs around $25, but it is a valuable tool. Choose a tile at the edge of the room and break it with a hammer. This gives you a foothold for your scraper. Use your hammer drill to break and pry through the tiles. 

You just insert the chisel under the tile and pry it up, and the tile comes off. Always ensure adequate safety gear, as broken tile pieces can be dangerous. Once all the tiles are out, you can scrape off the glue and sand the plywood to prepare for the next installation.

What Is The Best Way To Remove Ceramic Tile From A Wood Floor?

The best way to remove a ceramic tile from a wood floor is by the use of a hammer and a chisel. You start by breaking a centerpiece tile to get a foothold for your chisel. Hammer your chisel at an angle, and then pry up the tile. 

This is considered the best way to ensure minimal or no damage to your wooden floor. One can regulate the amount of power you use on a tile and the depth of your chisel. This helps protect your floor.

How Do You Remove Tile Without Damaging Subfloor?

You first have to remove the tiles using a hammer and a chisel. Drive the chisel under the tile, strike with the hammer, and pry up the tile. They come off pretty easy. After you remove the tiles, you are left with the mortar. You can rent a hammered chisel to remove it. 

Place the hammered chisel between the subfloor and the mortar, and it will dig it up while protecting the subfloor. Ensure the chisel is placed at an angle not to dig up the subfloor.

Can Tiles Be Stuck On Plywood?

Although you can stack tiles on plywood, it is strongly advised against. Plywood expands and contracts at different rates; hence may cause the tiles to crack. It is recommended to lay a thin subfloor between the plywood and the tiles for maximum efficiency. 

You can use a cement backer board or a thin adhesive membrane like the RedGard. This ensures the tiles adhere to the plywood but are not affected by the plywood’s contraction and expansion properties. It helps keep the tiles intact.

How Do You Remove Thin-Set From Plywood Subfloor?

Thinset is an adhesive used in flooring. It holds the tiles in place for an extended time. If you replace your old tile flooring, you probably must remove the thin-set. This can be done using a hammer and a chisel or a hammer drill. 

First, you can soften the thin-set by pouring a mixture of hot water and a citrus-based degreaser. You can then hit it using a hammer and chisel as you remove it. You can also use a hammer drill to drill through the thin-set. You should not apply too much pressure when using a hammer drill as it can damage the floor beneath.

Final touch:

Removing a tile floor from plywood is a task that someone can do independently. We have given you the tips and tricks to use when doing this task. Always ensure to follow the steps given for maximum efficiency.

If you are looking to upgrade, remove that old tile flooring. It is up to you to choose between the hammer and a chisel or the hammer drill. It all depends on the workload and the urgency.

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Jahidul Alam

Hello dear! This is Jahidul Alam. I am the admin of this Tidy Floor. I have been in the floor cleaning business for the last 20 years. My business is all about ensuring affordable flooring cleaning services for Americans.

2 thoughts on “How To Remove A Tile Floor From Plywood? [Do It Like A Pro]

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