How to Remove Tile Without Breaking

Tile floor

I would like to know an easy way to remove tiles that were installed wrong. They’re not straight and I need to remove them without breaking them if that is possible. -Earle

Hi Earle,

If the tiles are firmly attached, you may not be able to remove them without breaking, but here’s how to give it a try.

Start by removing all the grout using a grout saw, rotary cutter, oscillating tool, or utility knife. Next, position a chisel in the grout line under the bottom of the tile, and tap it gently with a hammer to see if the tile will pop loose (be careful not to chip or crack the adjoining tile). If not, insert a thin, flexible putty knife under the tile and try working it loose.

Once you get the first tile out, it will be easier to work under the remaining ones.

Good luck with your project,



  1. Try using a hand wood saw with a blade that is at least as long as the tile. You will find the blade is thin and you can tap the handle with a hammer to work it around gently under the tile. Lot’s of patience helps and it is probably a good idea to put water around the tile and let it sit. Of course this does not work on the first tile out. You may have to break that one. Also as the first post says you need to get the grout out first with the tools mentioned.

  2. I am a similar problem, but the tiles have not been grouted and I need to remove 6 of them to place somewhere else on my wall because I ran out of tiles. I have not been able to find anymore so I must change my design.

  3. It can be done. I just removed about 25 porcelain tiles from my concrete floor. They were large 20×20 and set in thinset. I removed all the grout with a diamond saw on an angle grinder (dust storm)and lightly struck around the edges (about 20 times alond each edge) with a flat screwdriver to get it to give. Then tapped a drywall taping knife under each edge until it felt too tight and moved it over. Then I tapped in the edge of a long framing square under the tile and POP it came up! You can tap on top of the tile to see where it is still attached by the sound. Took FOREVER doing the same thing on each tile but got them out, ground the thin set off the back and was able to reuse them. So yes it can be done but it takes time. The key is dont pry, get something thin underneath.

  4. Also tiles that are whole will hold up better. I broke one tile but it was a half tile and those with cuts are weaker. After that I took more care with the cut ones and got them out without breaking. The tile is discontinued so it was worth the time. The broken one I superglued back together (just one break) and installed where it will be under a couch – but you cant see the crack unless you know it is there.

  5. I had beautiful 12 x 12 ceramic tiles a few years ago. Now i must move and I want to take them to new House. Any chance? Is there a product to disolve adhesive?

  6. My son installed new tile floor in kitchen. Several weeks after installing, grout is coming out of random tiles. He used sanded grout that had to be mixed. Why is grout breaking and coming out in some area but not others? How do we fix this?

    • I had the same thing in my kitchen. It was a raised plywood floor which it turned out wasn’t stout enough to prevent flexing. The backer boards we used were 1/4″ which doesn’t provide enough stiffener, so the grout cracked within weeks. The easiest solutions are probably to use 1/2″ backer boards or to go underneath and brace up either the subfloor or the supporting joists.

      • Thanks for sharing your experience with the Today’s Homeowner community, KevinB!
        TH community members helping other TH community members — we love it. 🙂

  7. Bonnie,

    I hope this message finds you. There are many reasons why this would occur. One of the most common reasons is a failure to properly clean the grout lines of the tile and the tiles also before a grout mixture is placed. Failure to clean the area out with a shop vac and a damp sponge can result in a layer of dust/dirt that acts as a barrier between the tiles and the floors, basicly causing the grout to not adhere to the surfaces. Another problem is a bad mixture of grout, too much water in the mixture can be a huge problem if the grout is to soupy causing the drying time to extend especialy if the floors are being used within the first 48 hours. Also its reccomended that when grouting you work grout in very well toll fill in all the gaps to the subfloor and tiles to ensure a tight lock to avoid weak areas. Hope this helps!

  8. I like to remove about twelve bathroom wall tiles 4×4 and place else where. How could I do this without breaking them and what could I use to remove the old dry glue in back of the tile before re use. Thanks

  9. I have a older (at least 90 years old) home with a standing gas fireplace. I want to replace the tile surrounding the brick insert of the fireplace and floor in front of the fireplace. There is concrete behind the tile surrounding the fireplace but i’m not sure about the floor. Could you tell me how to do this and what type of tile I need to use.

  10. Gwen,

    I do not have any experience in a home fireplace as old as yours; however I’m certain that removal of any old tile (not brick) would be the same steps used in any other tile removal job. As always remove a section of grout in a starting area, then depending on size of tile and if you wish to save those tiles would depend on how you would remove them. I would recomend an oscilating tool or a flat head screw driver to slowly and light get under the tile in an attempt to left it from the thinset. From there just move slowly and repeat. As far as what tile to use it is entirely up to you on what you choose natural or ceramic. Just make sure you take your time (its not a race) when replacing the old with new, do your best to remove old thinset or debris and get a solid layer of set before laying your choice down. Also you can use putty knives to help lift some old tiles. Hope this helps and hope it turns out the way you want it.

  11. Hi, we removed our bathtub and installed a wet room, using thick liner under cement. We coved the floor w black mosaic tiles and black sanded grout which looked gorgeous once completed. Since then the calk or minerals have built up in the grout and nothing but nothing can clean that grout!! Now I hate my bathroom and want to retile but I’m wondering if we will damage the cement floor when pulling it out. It was extremely challenging getting the proper slope to go to the drains. Advice?

  12. I need to remove the tiles from the front of a bath path panel. The tiles are attached to a wooden ply board. I would like to save as many as I can as they are no longer available. I have access to one side of two tiles as the plumber did allow for some access to reach the taps end of the bath.

    How do I do this?

  13. We just had tile laid (finished last night) and my wife and I are not happy with the way it turned out. Not the intstallers fault. How long do we have to get this tile off the floor before its permanent. Or, it is too late and we should go rug shopping.

    Neee help FAST!

  14. I have a rather small bathroom and do not want to remove marble tile (small square tiles). I had heard there is a way of sanding it, coating it with something (different designs available). Is this true?
    Thank you.

  15. I have a small bathroom with marble tile from 1937. The white rectangular pieces are set in a square around a black square in the middle. These pieces are set in cement. I would like to save these tiles and reuse them even if it takes a lot of work. I would think it would be possible to cut out these pieces of floor and carefully chisel out the pieces. Then I would think there would be a mesh product that could be added to the pieces to make it easier to relay them or simply relay them and put in spacers. Does anyone do this or is it hopeless?

  16. I have a few tiles that have came loose. I have got then out with out breaking and got new just in case. Do I need to remove all the thin set before replacing. Or is there a better way. This was my first time and did not get enough or let it get to dry. please help

  17. I want to help my daughter and her husband solve a tile problem. Their kitchen tile is not available and three tiles were broken out to get to the dishwasher for a repair. A tile consultant said the tiles were cemented to the vinyl underneath and could not be removed without breaking it. I contend they could remove some tiles from under the refrigerator where a mismatch would not be seen, but how to get them out intact is the question in in order to use them in front of the dishwasher. What about heat to soften the adhesive?

  18. Hi,
    I had my ensuite redone 5yrs ago and the floors cracking plus I hate the tiles however can we pull the floor tiles up and replace them they did a terrible job the grout is just awful no amount of cleaning helps I have been told the whole bathroom will have to be retiled a big expense when it was done 5yrs ago in May please help

  19. How do I remove the plastic edging strip around window which is tiled without damaging the original tiles? I want to replace it with new silver strip.




  21. I had a contractor who laid tile incorrectly twice. The floor has a dip in it from age and needed to be leveled. He got it up the second time but the thinset is still on the back of the tile. Is there any way to remove the thinset so I can save the tile. One person suggested replacing it with wood rather than tile. Do you have any other recommendations? How can not lose the tile?

  22. I had some bathroom little tiles installed just yesterday and don’t like it. Is it safe to remove today or am I looking at drywall damage regardless?

  23. Hi,
    My white tiles in my bathroom on the wall and around the bath have darkened very much over the years and look awful, so I removed the grout only to find that I am left with a thin line on the edge of the tiles. When I re grout most will be covered but worried that not all will. I thought it was just a line of discoloured grout, and yes most of it was, but I still have a thin line some of which appears black.
    Regards Julie

  24. For those of you who are commenting about dirty grout, once it is thoroughly cleaned and dry, you should SEAL IT! Most people forget about this much needed procedure. Grout should be cleaned and re-sealed every couple of years. Otherwise, the sealer will naturally break down over time, allowing more stains to take hold.

    Another word of advice … it takes 60 seconds … one minute of your time, to WIPE DOWN THE TUB/SHOWER when you finish! Dry yourself off, then use another towel to dry off the tiles. If you do this, you will not experience mildew issues or soap scum/hard water buildup. Your partner, or anyone else using the tub/shower, has to agree to do this, too, for it to be effective. The best part … I only have to clean my shower 2-3 times a year!

  25. I bought a house that was just built. The 13″ square tiles on the concrete foundation need to be removed and replaced with something more pleasing. How big is the job or what might I anticipate to pay another to do this. The tiles in on 1,200 sq-ft.

  26. I need to know how to remove flooring. Under and around fireplace in my moblehome have water damage and need to remove damage flooring and replace.

    Thank you

  27. I have old hexagon tile with a 4×4 tile installed overtop of it. The building is a mid 1800 so I would like to remove the square tile and save the hexagon. Is there any chance in this?

  28. I have searched for an answer but this seems to be unique! We are trying to save 6 discontinued tiles to replace.We got them out ok but they pulled up old vinyl tile with the thinset sandwiched between the ceramic and vinyl. I have read that using muratic acid would remove the old mortar but how do you remove the old vinyl first? Would the moratic acid dissolve the vinyl as well? If so would you have to soak them? These are 16x 16″ tiles. If so, what could be used that would be big enough to soak them in?
    We need an answer asap! This is a project being done in a salon.
    Thanks for your help!!!

  29. How to remove the grout and save the tiles? The grout is heavy dirty and i tried many things. Nothing comes out so i was planning to remove the grout with something. The machine and after that i can pour the fresh new grout on the kitchen counter. Which tools that i can easy remove the grout without break the tiles? Hope u could help me how to solve this problem.

  30. what is the best method to remove current layed 12×12 floortilt without breaking them to replace broken ones in my home, thank you for the tie to help.

  31. Hello Earle and Others,
    I am looking for discontinued floor tile that is similar to the one that is in your photograph — Olean tile Carriage House Canvas CH75. I would appreciate any help in locating a few pieces of this tile.
    K. McCormack

  32. I see the questions but not the answers. Where might I look? I am looking for how to remove tiles without breaking them and what tool to use? Also once tiles are removed how to remove grout?

  33. Made kitchen bigger. Old tiles on splash back. Not replaceable with new. Wife is into this ‘feng shui’ thing.
    Few tiles are behind stove. Going to drill holes in grout all around to ‘soften’ the adhesion between them- then use utility knife – need three tiles- there are three only! Hopefully not attached too hard to wall- I actually did attach them years ago- and I think I am quite efficient.
    Bottom line- I wish myself good luck!

  34. The floor tiles in my entry, family room, dining area, kitchen and hall, virtually the hole living areas are all very drummy, there is no grout missing or cracked or broken tiles.
    How hard or easy would it be for me to remove the tiles
    (without breaking them) and have them relayed.
    Can you help.

  35. I have to replace 3 crack tiles in my kitchen. The only problem is I don’t have any replacement ,so I Thought Icould get 3tiles that are under the dishwasher. I don’t know how to get the tile out without breaking them. Can you help me?

  36. If the adhesive is rubber based – as many are these days I found heat to be a very good method to lift the tiles. Clean the grout out as others have suggested and then get a heat gun to heat the tile to about 120 degrees C. Then use a thin putty knife or paint scraper to gently lift the tile.

  37. My moms toilet is old . the tiles look dirty and the vanity is old. I wanted to replace old the vanity, mirror, and lights. my concern is that will the old tiles break if the vanity is replaced, these tiles are white and small in size . I don’t know if they will be available. Please if you can advise. also can these tiles can be polished to look better. thanks

  38. I wanted to remove tiles from my bathroom safely but I broke many of them. Now I have learned the technique of removing it without breaking. I will surely try this.

  39. Family member removed linoleum from floor but not adhesive. Put porcelain tile on floor except for one where subfloor had expanded from moisture. Realize not all tile is laid evenly. Want to remove tile. Can I still do this w/o breaking tile and, if so, how? I suppose I need a professional person to do this job.

    • Hi, ROG,
      We’re always looking for homeowners to call into our radio show and ask questions directly to Danny and Joe. We’ve reviewed your question and shared it with our radio producer, Marc, for consideration.
      Need immediate help? Connect one-on-one with a home improvement pro immediately through JustAnswer, a Today’s Homeowner partner:
      Take care. 🙂


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