Removing and Reusing Old Tiles

Before you start

You’ll need to know what sort of surface the tiles have been installed upon, as this will have a bearing on how you take them off. Concrete is a more time consuming process than removing tiles from drywall, but both can be completed successfully with some patience.

Make sure you have some protective goggles to wear before you start, as bits of old grout and dust can fly off during the removal process. Get some gloves to protect your hand too, and if you are asthmatic or sensitive to dust, consider a facemask as well. Be prepared to take your time, as rushing the job is only going to cause damage to your tiles.

Removal from a drywall

Removing from a drywall is a fairly quick process. The drywall is usually drilled into the wall, so you can simply cut around the tiles and peel off the drywall layer with the tiles still attached. You can then remove the tiles from the drywall in comfort elsewhere.

Removal from concrete

Concrete removal is more complex, and will require you to carefully remove each tile one by one if you want to end up with a stack of tiles in good condition.

  • The first tile is the hardest to remove. Start at the edge of the tiling array, or see if you can find a loose tile or broken one that you can begin with.
  • Using a saw or rotary tool, remove the grout from around the tile. Be careful not to damage the tile surface while you are doing this.
  • Once you have removed all the grout, use a putty knife or a crowbar to prise the tile carefully off. Slide it under the edge of the tile, and gently tap the handle with a hammer to force it slowly under the tile.
  • Make sure your tiles have a soft landing surface in case they ping off the wall unexpectedly.
    Preparing tiles to be reinstalled

Once you have removed all the tiles from your concrete or drywall, you will need to prepare them for reuse in their new location.

  • Remove the adhesive and grout from the back and sides of your tile. You can do this with a simple scraper.
  • If there is mortar dried onto the tile, you will need to use a mineral spirit to remove this. Soak a sponge in the spirit and wipe the tile to remove the mortar.
  • Soak all your tiles in water overnight to remove any dust, grout or mineral spirits that might remain.
  • Once your tiles are dry, they are ready to be installed in their new home.