How to Remove Tile Countertops

Wondering how to remove tile countertops? The weight of a tile countertop makes it difficult to remove in one piece, so it's necessary to take the tiles off individually. Luckily, other than the physical effort, removing tiles from the counter surface is a straightforward task.

How To Remove Tile Countertops Easily

  • Cleaning house. Before you can remove tile countertops, you'll need to prepare the area. Disconnect and remove any appliances or sinks installed in the countertop. Next, remove all drawers and cabinet doors adjacent to the counter to be removed. Finally, cover the floor around your workspace with plastic tarp to catch the dust and newspaper to cushion the floor from falling tile debris.
  • Removing screws. First, remove any retaining screws underneath the counter. These screws are typically installed into triangular wooden blocks or metal supports at the corners of the countertop.
  • Stay safe. Broken ceramic tile has very sharp edges. Be sure to wear goggles and heavy gloves as you remove tile countertops. Also, consider wearing a mask if tiles are to be cut or your work starts to generate a lot of dust.
  • Off the wall. Score any caulk or mortar where the countertop meets the wall. Cutting through these areas will help protect the surrounding walls. Next, remove the grout around the row of tiles closest to the wall-use a knife, small chisel or rotary tool to get the grout out. Finally, remove the row of tiles by either prying them out with a chisel or breaking them up with a hammer and prying out the pieces with a stiff putty knife.
  • On edge. Remove the decorative edge tiles along the sides of the countertop to expose the underlying support and the edges of the first row of tiles. Removing the grout from between these tiles will make removing them easier.
  • Prying eyes. Once the edge of the countertop is clear, start removing countertop tiles by wedging a putty knife into the gap between the tile and the board. Use a twisting motion to pop the tiles loose from the board underneath. Remove the tiles one row at a time, working from front to back.
  • Lose the underlayment. Once the tiles are removed, ease a pry bar between the wood underlayment and the cabinet base. Pry the underlayment up and remove it from the cabinet base.
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