Removing Tile Floor Material: Dos and Don’ts
Whatever ultimate flooring goals you may have for your home, one thing is certain: if you have tile floor material down now, you will find yourself having to remove it before installing anything else—even if all you want is a different type of tile!
Perhaps you like the look and feel of a hardwood floor. Maybe you prefer the easy care benefits of a laminate floor product. If you would rather vacuum than mop, you will likely carpet your home. Whatever ultimate flooring goals you may have for your home, one thing is certain: if you have tile floor material down now, you will find yourself having to remove it before installing anything else—even if all you want is a different type of tile!
While not exactly rocket science, removing tile floor material has a fixed series of steps. If you want to do the job correctly, it makes sense to know the correct way to do it.
Be safe, not sorry: invest in a pair of protective eye goggles to prevent injury from stray tile chips that might fly up during the removal process. Additionally, even though you are unlikely to encounter hazardous materials in Las Vegas’ newer construction, a face mask is highly recommended to avoid inhaling excessive amounts of concrete dust.
Use a utility knife or masonry hammer and chisel. Begin by removing the grout. This aids in the subsequent phase of tile removal. In Las Vegas, you will probably have to deal with a cement subfloor, so be conscious of the effect you are having on that ground-zero point.
Once you have opened up the grout area on all four sides surrounding the tiles, start tapping each to locate loose tiles. Use a hammer and chisel to pry them up. If the first attempt fails, crack the tile with the hammer, then pry up the smaller pieces. After clearing all the loose tiles, tackle the remaining ones by hammering the chisel underneath each tile to lift it up. Clear out all rubbish and debris.
Finally, you will need to clean up the old mortar or thinset left behind. You may be able to accomplish this using a hammer, chisel, and scraper. More stubborn underlays can require some heavy-duty tools, such as power scrapers.
Problems and Pitfalls
Flooring containing asbestos is not common in Las Vegas. Since these materials were used primarily during the 1970s and earlier, and since the majority of Las Vegas homes were built after that period, chances are good that your Las Vegas home does not pose a threat. If you do have a home built before the 1980s that still has its original flooring, you should consult a professional before removing tile floor material.
In the ranch-style home common in Las Vegas, you will most likely deal with a concrete subfloor. It is important to take care not to damage this surface during the removal process. It would be wise to begin in an inconspicuous corner or even a closet. If you experience problems keeping the subfloor intact, you should call a professional before costly damage occurs.
Remember that flying debris or tools can cause unnecessary damage to walls or other fixed construction, such as cabinetry or countertops. Place a protective covering over these areas before you start.
Know Your Limitations
Although removing tile floor material appears on the list of the most common do-it-yourself projects, it is not easy, nor does every homeowner succeed at it. If your tiles are set in a deep mortar base or present other issues during their removal, do not be afraid to call a professional.
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