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Cost to Remove Ceramic Tile from Floors or Walls
The average cost to remove tile is between $1.50 – $4.15 per square foot, with an average cost of $4.15/sqft for professional tile removal. The cost of DIY tile removal is less than $1.00 per square foot to about $2.00 per square foot based on the size of the job, what tools you purchase or rent and the cost of tile and debris disposal.
When hiring a professional, expect them to include the removal of all tile, disposal and clean up after the job is finished. Adding new tile comes at it’s own cost, based on whether you want to tile floors or install tile to walls.
Average Removal Costs
Overview of a Ceramic Tile Removal
Removing tile from walls and floors is a tough, messy, time consuming, and loud job. Precautions must be taken not to damage surrounding materials such as a tub, countertops, pipes or floor boards.
This Costimate is a tile removal cost estimate. It includes cost factors plus itemized costs for supplies and labor. We’ve also gathered prices from homeowners to submit costs from their tile removing project. Feel free to return to our site to submit your own project details and costs once you’ve had the work done.
We also make a DIY Yes/No recommendation below and what to consider if you do tackle the work yourself. There are three basic methods for removing tile:
- Manual hand tools: A ballpeen hammer can be used to break a tile to create a starting point. Then hammer and chisel or prybar can be used to remove the rest. A floor scraping tool requires a bit more muscle and is hard on hands and wrists, but can speed up the process. When tile thinset is reinforced by metal lath, you might need snips to cut and remove it.
- Powered hand tools: A demo hammer is like a small jackhammer. It’s an ideal tool for removing tile cemented to a concrete floor. Tile over wood subflooring can be removed with a powered cutting tool. This is appropriate when the subflooring needs to be replaced, perhaps due to water damage. Cut down through the tile and subfloor, and cut out sections 1-2 feet square. A starting point between floor joists must be located, and care must be taken not to cut joists as the work proceeds. An angle grinder is used to remove thinset from concrete to prepare the surface for new flooring. Some contractors may incorporate a heavy duty vacuum into this as well, making dust free tile removal a much desired choice.
- Large tile removing machine: These are useful for removing tile from large areas of floor. They come is a range of styles. Those used in residential settings are walk-behind tools.
If you choose to do the work yourself, see our supplies list below. Powered tools can be rented from many rental centers and home improvement stores. Hiring a handyman for this job may prove to be the best choice for many, as they can come in, get it done and dispose of it for an affordable price.
Tile Removal Project Cost Factors
These factors will determine where on the price spectrum your tile removal cost falls.
- Tile Location – Tile comes off walls more easily than floors, so cost is at the low end. This is because once the wall cavity has been exposed, it is easy to pull off large sections of tile and the drywall or backer board behind it. Tile on cement flooring is the most difficult to remove, so costs are the highest. The cost of removing tile on a wood subfloor or on a countertop with a wood base is priced about average.
- Who Does the Work – A day laborer or handyman service is often the cheapest way to have tile removed. Paying tile contractors is the costliest. In between is a tile removal specialist that has the tools and expertise for quick, effective work.
- Tools Used – Companies that use large machines can cost more than those that employ hand tools or demo hammers. If you’re removing the tile yourself, you can buy hand tools for about the cost of renting power tools for a couple days.
- Dust Free or Not – Like any added task, when having a company perform dust free tile removal, which incorporates a heavy duty vacuum system attached to their tools, it also cost a bit more per square foot. The benefit however, is that you’ll save quite a bit of money and time on cleanup, including the possibility of needing to relocate for a night or two during the removal process.
- Disposal – Paying the company that removed the tile to also dispose of it will cost more than if you have the means of hauling it to the landfill. Your local recycling facility might also take it, and that could be your lowest cost option. A final option for those with local garbage and recycling pickup is to put 15-30lbs of it per week into your garbage container or recycling bin for pickup.
- Cost of Living – How much it costs to live in your area will impact this work, as it does all goods and services.
- Scope of Project – If you plan to have tile reinstalled to your walls, bathroom or kitchen floors, the removal costs may be cheaper since they can be rolled into a larger project.
Cost of Removal Tools and Supplies
It takes more than just hard work to remove tile. Tools and supplies are needed too. This list will prepare you for DIY work or help you see what expenses pro tile removers have (in addition to overhead, various types of insurance, wages, etc.). Here’s a tool list and some how-to’s from Home Depot.
- $45 – $100 | Hand tools including hammers, a prybar, chisel set and floor scraper. Price depends on the quality and size of the tools.
- $225 – $900+ | Purchase of powered hand tools such as a demolition hammer or a circular saw or angle-grinder and blades and pads made for use on tile and concrete.
- $30 – $60 per day | Rental of powered hand tools per day. You’ll need a tile removal hammer or saw. If the subfloor is concrete, you’ll need an angle grinder to remove mortar to create a smooth surface for new flooring. A blade ($12-$25) for a cutting tool or saw might not be included in the rental price since it is a disposable part.
- $48 – $70 per day | Rental of a walk-behind tile hammer like the one from Pearl Abrasive.
- $40 – 125 | Safety gear. You’ll need “the whole works” including leather gloves, hearing protection, safety glasses or entire face shield if using powered tools and knee pads. Steel-toed footwear is a good idea too.
Permits, Inspection, Related Costs and Removal Time
Permits and Inspection Cost
- $0 | No permit is required for this work.
Related Costs and Installation Time
The costs for professional tile removal listed in the top table include tools, supplies and labor charges.
If you were to hire laborers or a handyman and provide all the tools and gear, then labor charges would be the only expense.
- $12 – $18 per hour | This is the going rate for unskilled, unlicensed labor for a demanding job like this. Using hand tools, manual or powered, 20-30 square feet of tile can be removed each hour. That does not include disposal and cleaning up the debris.
Tile Removal Time Schedule
The time the job takes is a factor of the location of the tile and the tools used to remove it.
- Manual hand tools: 25-35 square feet of wall tile per hour or 15-30 square feet of floor tile.
- Powered hand tools: 35-60 square feet of wall tile per hour or 25-50 square feet of floor tile.
- Powered floor machine: 75-125 square feet of floor tile per hour.
- 1-2 hours | Job cleanup based on the size of the project.
We’ve found the projects listed below to be commonly related to demolition or ceramic tile jobs.
Are You a Tile Pro?
If so, head over to our Costimates Pro’s page, and help us make this page better and more accurate for both our visitors and your future customers.
DIY or Hire a Pro?
You can remove tile yourself. It’s hard work, and you’ll likely have to buy, borrow or rent some of the necessary tools and gear.
I hired a high school student (Son of a friend) that was looking for some extra money, and together we removed about 300 square feet of ceramic floor tile with hand tools including a floor scraper. The tile was in the kitchen and dining area, and we had to work around an island. It was tough work and took 7+ hours from prep to cleanup. In hindsight, a demo hammer would have been well worth the rental cost. Goggles are a MUST!
The risk of injury is very real. This video, starting at about the 2:40 mark, demonstrates the point. Protect yourself from head to toe whether using manual or powered tools. Watch tutorials to learn about tools and techniques that are most effective on the type of tile you have.
Bottom line: If saving money on a tile job is essential, then consider DIY tile removal. If not, paying someone else to do it is money well spent. And due to the danger of damaging other materials in your home, hiring a licensed and insured contractor is the best way to protect yourself.