07:39AM | 05/24/04
Member Since: 05/23/04
2 lifetime posts
I need to remove ceramic tile in the kitchen. Practically all tiles are cracked. The problem is that kitchen cabinets with granite countertop were installed over this ceramic tile. Kitchen cabinets and countertop are in a great condition.

Could you, please, advise me how I can remove tile and leave kitchen cabinets untouched? Are there any tools on a market that I can use to cut tile on a floor?

I will appreciate your advice so much... Thank you very much in advance, Irene.



11:24AM | 05/24/04
Member Since: 06/06/03
1250 lifetime posts
Hello Irene,

I'm not a tile pro but I've done quite a few tile hope I can be of help.

First, remember that there is generally a decent size (4"-5") trim piece in the toe kick. There is a lot that you can do with trim after your new tile is installed--say, if cabinets were to be damaged a little when removing flooring.

I'd be concerned as to WHY most of the existing tiles are cracked. You will need to install a concrete backer board (such as Hardiebacker) before laying new tile. Tile is only as good as what it's put down on!

As for removing old tile, I'd first cover up anything desireable with thin plywood or other such protection. Shards will fly!

As for tools to cut existing tile--remember that you don't need to be too dainty! I've had good luck pulling up old tiles using a hammer and an old hatchet. WEAR SAFETY GOGGLES and gloves!!!!!

You put the edge of the tile under the tile (flat), and pop the back of the hatchet with the hammer. It takes a knack (at first you'll either smash'em or not get anywhere). After a few hits you should figure out how much to hit them to get the tiles up "somewhat" intact. (There will be plenty of breakage--but sounds like they're mostly broken anyway!)

As for tiles that go underneath the cabinets, probably the most difficult to remove will be those with just a small visible portion exposed. One problem might be finding a way to break them while working in tight quarters (toe kick area). But my temptation would be to try to break them into as large pieces as possible and pull them out, leaving anything remaining under the cabinets where they lie.

I think you'll have some luck with a pry bar if you don't lift cabinets much...just enough to break or remove tiles. I wouldn't lift more than about 1/8" or so.

There is some rather heavy physical labor involved, but there aren't too many better activities that look so great when complete!

And remember that trim work can work wonders! If you don't get all the tile out (say, there's little 1/2" pieces remaining you can't reach), you can slap up, say, a 1x4 flat against the toekick and run new trim along that!

Any questions keep responding, and hopefully one of the Flooring regulars will respond with some more advice!


-k2 in CO

Moderator, Miscellaneous Forum


12:05PM | 05/24/04
Member Since: 05/23/04
2 lifetime posts
Thank you very much for the response and very good process description. I was thinking about something like Dremel with Advantage Rotary Saw to cut tile just near cabinets, but I found on Dremel web page that it is not good floor tile.




01:23PM | 05/24/04
Member Since: 06/06/03
1250 lifetime posts
Hello again Irene,

Yes, forget about the Dremel. Floor tile is pretty tough stuff.

I've had little Makita tile cutting saw for many years. I use it for close cuts and creative work; it's an old 9.6v diamond bladed saw with built-in water cooling. (It puts water on the tile as it cuts, to keep it cool.)

I have used this tool on SOME already-installed cuts. It's a cute little tool; it MIGHT be able to fit in the toe-kick area. But even with that, you're looking at a pretty long day, and you may wear out a diamond blade or two, at $20 a pop.

If you choose to go that route, what I'd suggest (assuming it even fits down there, with the attached water bottle) is SCORE the tile with it, maybe 1/4 of the way through. This would allow you to possibly pry up the tile from underneath and snap it at the score line.

One problem I foresee using this method is that the Makita saw sits on a base, like a small circular saw. So you won't be able to get in real close; the closest I see you getting might be 1/2" or so--if you're lucky.

I didn't mention this before, but have you REMOVED all the trim work at the toe-kick area? This will get you at least 1/4" closer. Pry the trim up carefully....Try and save the old trim for possible re-use.

And depending on the type of cabinets in use, it might allow a surprising amount of access beneath.

By Jove, I just found this web site on the Makita tile cutter: I have had mine, I believe, about 15 years, and they still make it. I really like their tools; you can still find batteries for old models. And with subsequent (higher-voltage Makita) tools I've purchased, I can charge all my old Makita batteries in them. DeWalt, Porter Cable, Milwaukee, etc owners stand by their tool collections as well--but when I first started buying Makita, Makita had no competition! (Plus, I'm still not sure if anyone else makes a tile cutter like it).

All that said, you might still end up using the hammer and hatchet method.....let us know how it goes when you start getting into it, OK, Irene?

Best regards,

-k2 in CO

Moderator, Miscellaneous Forum


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