I started removing what I believe to be 12x12 ceramic tiles which I’ve found out are adhered to a concrete backerboard which is adhered to a plywood subfloor. I’ve scoured the internet and have found some similar questions but nothing which fully satisfied me. Basically, my tiles are chipping in tiny pieces when I am manually chipping them off with a chisel/hammer and I’m looking for a more effective, less time consuming, less intensive method to remove them. I was initially going to try and keep the backerboard but it’s getting a bit chipped up and since it’s so inexpensive I’m thinking of just ripping it out as well. I was thinking about buying a rotary hammer with a chisel blade and going to town but I was wondering if anyone had any ideas or tips that might help me out? I do have a decent amount of power tools in the garage so if another tool is the answer I might have that lying around. I have not seen any screws in the backerboard so far (I’ve only gotten off like 8ft^2 of tile, though) but I was also worried that if I tried to lift/remove the backerboard and it did have screws that I didn’t find it could damage my subfloor, which I am obviously hoping to avoid.

Thank you so much for any assistance anyone can provide!

1 Answer 1


If the backer board is attached with screws, the easiest solution would be to find them, remove them and take the floor out in chunks. However, that's not gonna happen since there isn't a good way to find the screws and you'd have to chip up the tile to get at them.

I removed almost 600 sqft with a rotary hammer from Harbor Freight. I bought the mid-range sds model. I don't usually buy power tools form HF, but this is one that you will probably destroy during the process, so buy accordingly. I went through two of them (replaced under warranty) to finish the job.

Regarding the cement board. You won't know for sure that you have to replace it until you get the tile off and it cleaned up. depending on how much you beat it up and how much grout and mortar is left, it may be easier to replace it. You may need to pull it to level the floor anyway, you just don't have enough information to make that decision yet. Good Luck! Oh and get good knee pads, they are a life saver when chipping up tile.

  • 1
    A 6" wide hand chizzle works good a small air chizzle also works but usually there is more damage to the backer.
    – Ed Beal
    Oct 10, 2017 at 21:17
  • Thank you for the response! I did buy a small rotary hammer from Home Depot, the Ryobi 18v rotary hammer, and that coupled with smashing the tiles with a hammer has made removal a lot easier. Although I would have obviously preferred to remove the tiles whole they simply wouldn’t budge unless they were smashed a little bit first. I haven’t found a single screw in my backerboard yet but it’s kind of beat up now so I might as well rip it out because it’ll probably be a lot bigger pain to try & level it out.
    – Andrew
    Oct 11, 2017 at 15:26
  • Good news bad news, if you're having that much trouble getting them up then they were installed correctly. The bad news is that correctly installed tile will take that much more work to remove. I found that using one of the 2" wide sds chisels and trying to get under them from the side worked reasonably well.
    – Haendler
    Oct 11, 2017 at 15:43

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