Removing Ceramic Tile

There are three methods for removing tiled floors.Jack hammer for tile removal One can choose to do it themselves, hire day labor, or hire a company that specializes in such. When considering our experiences and costs, option #3 is the most reasonable. Why?

Do It Yourself

I don't know about you, but as an installer, I had better things to do than unskilled dirty jobs. Sure I got paid for it, but it took away from the the actual installation work I preferred to do. Let's take an example of working alone and renting a demo hammer from Home Depot. As a ballpark guesstimate, the time spent to remove tile and thin set averages 20-25 square feet per hour on a concrete subfloor.  

Removal time does not include disposal from the premises. The garbage guys won't take it away for you, so another cost is incurred by hiring a construction removal company, unless you have a friend and pickup. This stuff will get heavy and landfill dumping costs are based on weight.

Other considerations with these demo hammers include the weight. I can't imagine someone 120 pounds for example, who works in an office five days a week doing this kind of work. Not only is it hard on the body, but the noise as well. If you're determined to do so, use eye protection, long pants, long sleeved shirts, gloves, ear plugs, and whatever else that may protect from flying chipped tile.

Employ Some Day Labor Removing The Tile

We tried this technique several times before some Workers remove ceramic tilecompanies that specialize moved in. Day labor is a great resource in that you don't have to be concerned with insurance and scheduling the guys. Costs will vary depending on your area, but the last time we used day labor (June 2007) the going rate was $ 12.50 per hour. To hire some help, simply pay a visit to an office nearby, tell them what you want done and ask that you prefer some guys that may do a good job for you.

Ask them what? Yea, I know, it can be a crapshoot in who may show up at your door. I had a slight advantage because years ago I worked in day labor for a few months. I'd always tell the boss in the office..."I know how these places operate, and I don't need any slackers, drunks, or guys that can't handle the work." I got lucky most of the time and treated the guys well. It did pay off in production, opposed to being a slave driver.

Local labor pools only provide the labor and other small necessities for their workers. If you plan on using this method, they do not provide the tools needed. Demolition hammers can be rented on a daily basis from nearly all the big box stores these days.

Hire A Specialty Company - Option #3

No mess, no fuss. We got together with a company that specializes in ceramic and marble floor removal to see how specialty machines actually work and if they're cracked up like they advertise. The situation was a private residence that had just been sold. New owners wanted tile ripped out to install hardwood flooring. The job consisted of 575 square feet. Guess how long it took? From pulling up to the curb, busting up tile and thin set, removal and locking the doors...fourLarge tile removal machine hours!

Large Tile Removal Machine

Looking at the machine pictured one would think; “how can they get it in my house?” This battery operated removal machine can fit through standard doorways, on elevators and up a few steps. It cannot make it up a flight of steps as the weight is substantial. It is also something that cannot be rented to a home owner if you were thinking so.

Comparing the above example to our labor pool guys and an example of hand removal averaging 20 square feet per hour, it would have taken four guys one eight hour day to do the same job. Probably more because sometimes you may get a guy that's only worth 25%

Costs? Depending on where you reside, prices will vary. Our experience was South Florida where the contractor had a going rate of $ 2.50 per square foot. Other types of removal these companies handle include hardwood glued to concrete; a very time consuming job. The beauty of this battery powered machine is that it is extremely quiet and scoops up the hardest part of removal, thin set, like spooning peanut butter off a floor.

Some Preparation Notes Before Tearing Out Tile. Dust!

Foremost is the mess it creates. Dust will get everywhere! Inside kitchen cabinets, on drapery, and Taping doors to keep dust containedfurniture. It will even find it's way under doors leading to other areas that aren't on the demo schedule. Folks plan ahead of time. Cover everything in sight with thin painters sheathing (1mm) if some items are to remain in the areas.

For example, a piano is too large or heavy to move out of the work area. Wrap that baby up in sheathing and tape the seams. Light fixtures are another source of dust collection. You may not notice it right away but down the road you may wonder why you're sneezing all the time. Stuff some towels under doors, tape the door casings with blue painters tape. Kitchen cabinets? Tape those off too. Dust will find it's way inside.

Going Through A Retail Store

With the above scenario, a local retail store would probably charge four to five dollars a square foot. They won't be doing the work, but hiring the actual installer that will be doing the wood floors for the work. They may pay the installer two to three dollars a square foot and keep the rest.