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hkeiner 02-21-2013 01:26 PM

How to remove single 18" ceramic floor tile
I need to remove a single 18" porcelain floor tile (tile A) without damaging it. I need to remove this tile in one piece in order to move it to another place on the floor and replace a tile (tile B) that is damaged. This tile style/color is no longer available from the manufacturer so I need to use Tile A for the fix. Tile A is located under a refrigerator and thus hidden. I expect the best way to do this is to cut out the existing grout around Tile A down to the subfloor (through the underlayment) and then gently pry it up the tile/underlayment 'chunk' hoping the staples/fasteners holding the underlayment release before cracking the tile.

- If the above plan is the way to go, what is the best tool to cut out the existing grout? I would be willing to buy the right tool if it improves my chances. I already have a RotoZip and Fein Multmaster but I never used either to remove grout before. The literature fo these toos says that they can remove grout, but I am not sure if they are more of a toy for this type of work and not up to the task. The grout is sanded and I believe it has an expoxy ingreadient if that matters.

- Any tips on prying up the tile/underlayment chuck after the grout is cut out?

- If the above step is successful, what it the best tool to to remove the underlayment and thin set sticking to the back of the tile. I already have an angle grinder, but do not have diamond cup abrasive disk. While expensive, I would get one if that was the best tool for the job. Masonry cut-off blades are much cheaper of course.

While the above is easy to describe, I expect that it will not be so easy to do without risking damage to Tile A. Since I do not have extra 'hidden' tiles to practice on, I need to get this right the first time. If I am unable to repair/replace Tile B my wife will compel me to have the whole tile floor replaced which spans a hallway, dining room, and kitchen. While I consider myself a capable DIY person that generally does a job the right way, I am not quite sure what the right way is in this case. Is this type of task generally over the head of a DIYer and should such work be only done by tile installer/professional?

Your thoughts are appreciated.

DannyT 02-21-2013 02:56 PM

if the tile was installed properly there is very little chance of getting it up in one piece. if it was installed poorly then you might have a chance, but not a great one.

JetSwet 02-21-2013 04:29 PM

Remove grout around tile and try a metal coat hanger between grout lines throught tile grab the other end and pray it doesnt snap when you pull.. ...

jeffnc 02-27-2013 06:00 PM

Those tools should work (although slowly) to get the grout out. A grinder with diamond wheel would be much faster. They are inexpensive at Harbor Freight, and come in handy for other things if you wish to invest.

If you actually succeed in getting that tile out with the underlayment somehow (good luck!), then I would definitely not pry that tile off. I would use said grinder on the thinset/underlayment connection and work it off little by little. That way is tedious, but you definitely won't crack the tile. Otherwise, I'd be very surprised if you didn't crack it. Unless of course it was installed like most crappy tile jobs, it might just about fall off.

jeffnc 02-27-2013 06:05 PM

Is the tile in a very aesthetically convenient place? What many people do is add an accent tile in this case. You might even take up a couple other tiles if the location is aesthetically convenient. (This is if your other plan doesn't work.)


jeffnc 02-27-2013 06:32 PM


hkeiner 02-28-2013 02:28 AM

3 Attachment(s)
Thanks for all the respones. I decided to leave the floor tiles alone. Success in removing the replacement tile and then installing it in its new location seemed unlikely. Using an accent tile didn't seem like good option either considering the tile needing replacement is located at the base of a stairway (see third pic below). As an explanation, I am changing from carpeted stairs to wood tread stairs. The floor tile needing replacement was installed while the carpet was still in place. The person installing the tile (not me) left a 1" gap between the riser and the tile. A bit of sloppy work but the gap was not apparent while the carpet was in place.

Mycurrent plan for the stairs is to place 'retro treads' on top of the old treads and 'retro risers' in front of the old risers (being carefull to ensure the stairs remain within code). While a 1/4" retro riser is typically used for this type of changeover, I am just going to add an additional 3/4" risers to each step. This way the bottom riser covers the gap and problem solved. I am not too attracated to putting a baseboard and/or quarter round at the foot of the stairs to cover the gap. I am still mulling over my options, but "tile replacement" is very low on my list of options right now. This is my latest thinking anyway.

Thanks again guys...

jeffnc 02-28-2013 06:27 AM

Wow :-) Putting in a trim piece is so by far the easiest option there, wish we had known that first. But it's your house, your choice.....

maranello055 02-28-2013 09:56 AM

A little piece of base molding or quarter round would be perfect! You kinda want a little gap between the tile and the stairs to allow for a tiny bit of expansion just in case... Never know!

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