If I remove (break) the existing ceramic tiles with the intention of replacing them with new porcelain tiles, there will be hardened thinset left on the subfloor. I suppose I should just remove the entire plywood subfloor and replace it with a new one, instead of bothering to grind off the thinset?


No, unless the surface is so severely damaged (or you can't remove enough mortar) that installation of new tile would be difficult.

You might find that a commercial floor sander with a coarse grit works well to smooth the remaining mortar, which is not terribly dense.

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