Demolishing and Removing Marble Flooring Tiles

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    Materials and Preparations

    A construction worker is picking up marble tile which has been demolished between an interior doorway for a house remodeling project.
    BanksPhotos/E+/Getty Images

    While marble is a beautiful and elegant material, sometimes you need to remove an installation that may be worn out, damaged, or strained beyond repair. This will allow you to install new flooring in the same area.

    Basic Marble Information
    Marble Tile Options

    Difficulty Level: Hard

    Time To Complete: Several hours, and possibly multiple days

    Materials Required

    • Sledgehammer
    • Hammer
    • Nail Press
    • Chisel
    • Screwdriver
    • Medium and Heavy Grit Sandpaper

    Before you start, make sure that you cannot achieve the desired effect using a floating floor that can be installed directly over the surface of the marble. Materials such as vinyl, cork,
    bamboo, and hardwood are often available in click together tiles and planks that can be installed directly over flat surface floors, saving you the cost and hassle of removal.

    Breaking The Tiles

    If however the only option is to remove the floor then you are going to have to start off by smashing some things. Begin in the center of the room, and use a sledge hammer to crack several tiles. Aim for grout lines as these will be the weakest points, and will make it easier to shatter adjacent tiles.

    Throughout the entire process you should be wearing protective eye gear, as shards of stone and debris can fly up during impact and lodge in your eyes. You will also want to have a pair of heavy duty work gloves. If the area is not well ventilated you may also need a breathing mask due to dust particles which can fill the air.

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    Removing Tile Shards

    As you work with the sledge hammer, be careful not to get carried away. You want to crack the material so that it can be removed. However, you do not want to damage the subfloor in the process, as that will present problems later on when it is time to install a new floor in the area.

    Once you have the marble cracked and shattered in several places you can start to remove large pieces from the floor. Use the flat edge of a chisel to slide up under the side of individual tiles in order to lift them away. You may need to jab at the mortar underneath to try and crack its hold on the bottom of the material.

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    Chiseling Smaller Marble Tile Remnants

    The sledge hammer is only for breaking up the tile, not for removing everything. For smaller pieces of stubborn stuck on debris you can place the edge of a chisel against the bottom side, and then tap the handle of the tool with a hammer. This will dig the sharp edge of the chisel down under the mortar and will allow you to eventually lift away the entire shard.

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    Smoothing the Subfloor

    Use a scraper to try and lift up the last of the mortar that remains dried to the subfloor. In some cases, you may need to use medium or high-grade sandpaper to smooth out features sticking up from the surface. Filler compound can also be used to repair any damages that occurred during the removal process. You want to make sure that the subfloor is completely flat, even, and free of defects before you move on to installing a new floor on top of it.​

    Laying Out Tile Projects