I'm finishing up my hardwood flooring project and realized I had enough material to replace a tile entry pad with hardwood. So I started removing the tile and thinset with my handy prybar. I'm finding it extremely slow going. The tiles are very difficult to remove, and most of the thinset beneath them is extremely well-bonded to the concrete slab beneath them. I'm having a hard time getting

Is there a reasonably-priced tool I can acquire to make this task less arduous? Or am I just going to have to bang and scrape at it over and over and over and over again?

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Hammer and chisel. That area should take about 10-15 minutes. If you pat the area with a hammer it will break the bond with the tile. The chisel isn't used much accept to knock off build up of thinset.

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  • I actually tried whacking the top of the tiles with a big hard hammer and all it did was dent them. – iLikeDirt May 3 '14 at 21:26
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    You don't whack them. Make it harder to get them up. You tap them. By tapping (pretty hard but not hard enough to damage tile) you are breaking the bond that the thinset has. Often the thinset will disengage from the concrete below and sometime just the tile. I use this method on bathrooms that have poured concrete because keeping that concrete is better and a time saver. With the bigger tiles a mallet makes things go faster but a hammer works too. – DMoore May 3 '14 at 21:29
  • Haha maybe that's my problem then! – iLikeDirt May 3 '14 at 21:32
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    Just a lot of little taps working your way around the tile. On these big ones it takes about 20-30 seconds per tile once you get it down. You will notice them lift up. Remove the tile. Then chisel out the excess thinset. – DMoore May 3 '14 at 21:38
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    Wow, this method works REALLY well. The thinset really does come up with the tile. Thanks! I've saved a ton of time and the money I was going to use to buy a big frigger floor scraper. – iLikeDirt May 4 '14 at 0:02

I've always used a floor scraper for jobs like this. The longer handle gives much better leverage, and some of the better ones have a kick plate or other attachment that lets you put some leg power into them too.

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  • Do any of those have hardened masonry blades? I'd worry that the tile and thinset would just mash up a blade designed to scrape buildup off of smooth surfaces. – iLikeDirt May 3 '14 at 19:10
  • Yep. The one I have has a hardened blade. The blades are also replaceable. – Comintern May 3 '14 at 21:35

I realize it's small job, but when I redid a bathroom floor recently, I rented something like this, a demolition hammer, from a local HD, or your local tool rental place. There are smaller models, but it makes the work go quick. You may get it done in under the 4 hour minimum.


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