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Best Way to Remove Tiles Easily – Which Tool to Use?

Last Updated on August 18, 2020

a tool to remove to tiles

We are tempted to say “sledgehammer,” when asked to name the best tool to remove tile easily. It doesn’t get much easier or more satisfying than to let off a little steam wielding the mere mortals equivalent of Thor’s Hammer. The sledgehammer fills the “easily” requirement nicely. But what if you want the surface behind the tile to remain intact? Well, that spoils the fun.

These reviews will look at the best tools for turning tile removal into an easy job. The secret to tile removal is to find or create an edge. It becomes the chink in the tile’s armor. Once you have that, you can remove tile with the best of them. Most tools for this job are simple hand tools.

This last point may disappoint those readers seeking an excuse to buy a cool tool they’ve had their eye on for a while. So, to keep that segment of our readers happy, we’ll include a review or two in the “Overkill” section. Let’s get this show on the road.

Comparison of our Favorites in 2020

Image Product Details
Winner
Crescent Tools DB18X Crescent Tools DB18X
  • Rugged, solidly made tool
  • Wide chiseled edge
  • Adjustable handle
  • Second place
    Crescent Tools DKB44X Crescent Tools DKB44X
  • Quality tool
  • Adjustable angle
  • Double fork design
  • Third place
    Bosch 11255VSR Bulldog Xtreme Bosch 11255VSR Bulldog Xtreme
  • Bosch quality
  • 3-in-1 functionality
  • Great power
  • XtremepowerUS Heavy Duty XtremepowerUS Heavy Duty
  • Plenty of power for DIY
  • Comes with a case and accessories
  • Has the required scraping chisel
  • The 6 Best Tools for Removing Tile

    Tile is a simple adversary. It is held in place with a mastic (fancy word for glue) and has a fine-grained cement (grout) filling the gaps between the tiles. In combination, this creates a solid and long-lasting surface, be it on the wall or floor. People often ask if what the tile is stuck to makes a difference in the removal effort. For example, is the best way to remove tile from a concrete floor the same for tile mounted on sheetrock.

    You can be rough and use a lot of pressure when removing tile from concrete. You need a little more finesse if you are working with drywall and want to limit the damage to it. The difference with drywall is you need to use more driving force parallel to the wall and less prying force.

    Normal Tile Removal Tools

    1. Pry Bar and Hammer – The Undisputed Heavyweight Champs of Tile Removal

    Mr. Tile sits there smugly confident in its resistance to being moved. Until you show up with the two things, a tile installation fears the most, a hammer and a sturdy pry bar. The hammer doesn’t matter that much. It just needs to be full size, like a 16-ounce claw hammer or a 3-pound hand sledgehammer. It has a straightforward job, either break out the first tile or drive the pry bar under an edge tile. After that, it just needs to pound the pry bar under the next tile.

    The pry bar has more specific requirements. At least one end must be flat, so it can be driven under the tiles and wide enough to exert plenty of pressure on the tile being removed when you use lever action to break it free. Our recommendation is the Crescent Tools DB18X Crescent DB18 x 18″ Indexing Flat Pry Bar.

    Crescent Brand BLACK DB18X 18 Indexing Flat Prybar
    581 Customer Reviews
    Crescent Brand BLACK DB18X 18 Indexing Flat Prybar
    • Head indexes over 180 Degrees and locks in 16 positions
    • Head has raised striking surface allows for striking to loosen and penetrate
    • Angled head with nail slot for prying and pulling nails and boards
    Pros
    • Rugged, solidly made tool
    • Wide chiseled edge that can be driven under tile
    • Adjustable handle for hard to reach tile
    • Great for many residential-scale projects
    Cons
    • It is more expensive than some other alternatives

    2. The wrecking bar and sledgehammer –Second Place Finisher

    If you are removing floor tile, bending over and using the pry bar/hammer combination of our number 1 finisher can be hard on the back. The #1 combo works great for getting things started on your floor tile removal. After that, being able to stand up and work is a pleasure. No need to make the task any harder than necessary.

    To accomplish this more ergonomically comfortable floor tile attack, you will need tools like those in the first-place position with longer handles. The technique is to create an opening with the shorter tools, then continue with the long-handled ones. For this, we recommend the following dynamic duo, the Crescent Tools DKB44X Home Hand Tools Pry Bar paired with the AMES Jackson Fiberglass Handle Sledge 8-Pound Hammer.

    Crescent Tools DKB44X Home Hand Tools Pry Bar:

    Crescent 44' Indexing Deck Removal Bull Bar -...
    218 Customer Reviews
    Crescent 44" Indexing Deck Removal Bull Bar -...
    • For every home renovation project, DIYers and tradesmen alike can count on the new dual claw...
    • Double fork design provides balanced Lift on both sides of the nail. Boards are removed faster,...
    • Rugged indexing joint allows for maximum flexibility and increased leverage
    Pros
    • Quality tool
    • Adjustable angle
    • Double fork design for increased leverage
    Cons
    • Small striking surface

    AMES Jackson Fiberglass Handle Sledge 8-Pound Hammer:

    Jackson 1199300 Sledge Hammer with 36 in....
    16 Customer Reviews
    Jackson 1199300 Sledge Hammer with 36 in....
    • 10-Pound hammer head
    • Double face forged steel for maximum strength
    • 36-Inch fiberglass handle
    Pros
    • Price
    • Durability
    • Fiberglass handle
    Cons
    • No handle protection under the head

    Hint: To compensate for the small striking surface, take a piece of scrap 2 x 4 lumber, place it on the floor behind the Crescent tool and use that as a larger striking surface.


    Overkill

    We promised some reviews that qualify as overkill for most residential projects, and we deliver in this section.

    1. Rotary Impact Hammer – Our Top Overkill Choice

    The rotary hammer is the first cousin to the electric drill. In some kits, both tools are combined. That’s a nice feature. The rotary hammer converts rotational force into striking force. It is an excellent solution for removing frozen lug nuts on your car or blasting tile off a floor. It is definitely a specialty tool. But, like all specialty tools, when you need its capabilities, it’s worth its weight in gold. This specialized application is a prime reason why the rotary hammer is filed in the Overkill section.

    For this tool, we recommend the Bosch 11255VSR Bulldog Xtreme Rotary Hammer.

    Bosch 11255VSR Bulldog Xtreme - 8 Amp 1 Inch...
    956 Customer Reviews
    Bosch 11255VSR Bulldog Xtreme - 8 Amp 1 Inch...
    • 3 modes: Multi-function selector offers 3 modes of operation; Rotation only, rotary hammer, and...
    • Ease of use: The Bulldog Xtreme Bosch Drill has vibration control for comfort in all day...
    • Ergonomic: D handle design provides comfort and optimal control; Especially for overhead or downward...
    Pros
    • Bosch quality
    • 3-in-1 functionality, rotary only, rotary hammer, hammer only
    • Great power
    Cons
    • Accessories are extra

    To equip your rotary hammer for the tile removing job, we recommend you buy the SPKLINE 3-Inch-Wide Tile & Thinset Scaling Chisel SDS-Plus.

    SPKLINE 3' x 6.5' Concrete Tile Thinset Scaling...
    41 Customer Reviews
    SPKLINE 3" x 6.5" Concrete Tile Thinset Scaling...
    • Made of high quality hardened steel alloy with heat treatment process this scaling chisel is very...
    • 3"(75mm) wide and 6.5"(165mm) long, compact and flexible for operation. Drop forged body with a...
    • Optimal geometry design offers comfortable use with less vibration, machine sharpened edge...
    Pros
    • Bosch quality
    • Good price
    • SDS-compatible
    Cons
    • Dulls quickly

    2. Jackhammer – Our Fantasy Overkill Choice

    What tool lover hasn’t fantasized about taking over the throttle of a jackhammer and laying waste to some bit of structure? We thought so. Most of the time, jackhammers are associated with large air compressors. That isn’t a viable option for the tile removal projects most will encounter. Unless you have a contract to remove the tile from the local shopping mall.

    Happily, some smaller models run on electricity. They are best applied to remove floor tile unless you have Hulk-like strength and can hold it up to work on the wall tile. These powerful implements of tile removal can cost a small fortune unless you hunt around and look for affordable options. For this tool, we recommend the XtremepowerUS Heavy Duty Electric Demolition Jack Hammer, Concrete Breaker w/Scraping Chisel.

    XtremepowerUS 2200Watt Heavy Duty Electric...
    2,329 Customer Reviews
    XtremepowerUS 2200Watt Heavy Duty Electric...
    • It is perfect for demolition, trenching, chipping, breaking holes in concrete, block, brick, tile...
    • Adjustable 360 degree foregrip provides extra control that makes it easy to conveniently adjust...
    • Available for Home and Commercial with the voltage of 110v/60 HZ, it's suitable for you to use it at...
    Pros
    • Plenty of power for DIY and small contractor projects
    • Comes with a case and accessories
    • This version has the required scraping chisel
    Cons
    • Your neighbors and tool friends will try to borrow it

    Buyer’s Guide

    When looking for tools in this project category, you want simple and rugged. Hardened prying edges and hammer faces are essential for tool longevity because there will be a lot of pound, pry, and repeat. To achieve this, you need to look for quality materials. All the tools in these reviews will fill the quality bill for DIY and light contractor work.

    We also want to emphasize the need for personal protective gear. Eye, ear, and face protection are a must. There will be lots of flying shards, plenty of mastic and grout dust, and uncomfortable noise levels for both the manual tools and the powered ones.

    Conclusion

    Our reviews focused on the hand tools you need to remove tile successfully. We also tossed in some power tools for the “more power” aficionados in our reader ranks. Your tile removal kit should contain these two tools at a minimum:

    If you face a floor tile job larger than 100 square feet or so, consider investing in this combination:

    For the power tool folks, we feel the Bosch 11255VSR Bulldog Xtreme Rotary Hammer is plenty of overkill.

    Happy smashing!

    About the Author Adam Harris

    Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!