Removing Old Floor Tile

In our previous article in this series on tiling our front hall and laundry room, we provided a description of the current state, with the 23 year old tile in the front hall and the linoleum flooring in the adjacent laundry room.

Today, we describe the process used by the contractors to remove the old tile in the front hall.

The first thing that they did was to have me turn off the central air system. This was done for the entire floor tile removal in order to prevent the fan in the central furnace, which of course runs when furnace or the central air is engaged, from pulling the dust from the broken tile and cement throughout the house.

Great idea!

Before starting the tile removal effort, they also placed plastic drop sheets in the doorway from the front hall to the kitchen, along the Bannister of the stairs leading to the basement and again in the opening between the front hall and the adjacent living room.

 Removing Old Floor Tile

Next, how did they remove the floor tile?

Well, not a mini jack hammer as I had thought.

Instead they used a large crowbar and a hard rubber mallet.

 Removing Old Floor Tile

They started at the lip of the current tiled floor by the door to the laundry room. If you recall from the previous article, the laundry room flooring was not tiled by had a linoleum covering. The prior owners or, because the flooring looks to have been installed when the house was built 23 years ago, the original construction crew left the height of the front hall floor a god 1/2 inch higher than the floor of the laundry room.

This gave the current contractors a good place to begin.

Once they used the crowbar to lift up the marble end and the first adjacent tiles, they noticed that like a lot of non-professional tile installations no screened mesh was used as part of the front hallway’s underfloor. When done properly with a mesh as part of a tile underfloor, in the future when the flooring is replaced it makes it much easier to pull up (sure with some effort) the mesh and the tiles with it.

However, that was not our case. It was straight plywood under the concrete thin-set which was under the tile.

However, it did not take as long as they feared to remove the tiles. Why?

 Removing Old Floor Tile

Well, even without any mesh screen, the amount of concrete thin-set upon which the original tiles had been placed was, well, thin. Very thin. This, sadly, is not an uncommon practice which I have seen in my limited experience when builders are simply trying to get the house put up so they can sell it or so they can meet a pending deadline for a house sale.

Occasionally, complete tiles came up when the crow bar was used as a ice scraper is used to remove ice on a car’s windshield in the winter.

 Removing Old Floor Tile

The hard rubber mallet was used to help loosen the floor tile on other parts of the floor.

Notice here that the tile goes into the front hall closet. In order to ensure that all of the tile was removed in the closet floor they first removed the closet door and then removed the existing baseboard trim. Our plan was to not simply have them tile up to the existing baseboard trim and then use quarter-round to finish off the space between the new tile and the existing trim.

 Removing Old Floor Tile

When it came to the narrow marble ends of the flooring by the adjacent living room, first the contractors removed the narrow wood molding.

 Removing Old Floor Tile

Once removed, it was again surprisingly easy. These narrow marble ends were simply installed on top of the same concrete thin-set, just more of it.

 Removing Old Floor Tile

So, is that it? Is that all there is to removing the original floor tiles?

Not quite.

Continue to the next article within this front hall and laundry room tile removal project series where we finish up the job of removing the existing hall way floor tiles and show you pictures of the end product.

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