Easy Tile Removal

By Kate Riley February 2, 2011

I’m working my way down my Home Goals of 2011 list, and removing the backsplash tile in my kitchen has been Priority Numero Uno. If you follow me on Twitter, you know I spent yesterday morning removing tile!  

A few months ago, I received a cordless Dremel MultiMax and I’ve been waiting to break it in ~ yesterday was the perfect opportunity.  I realized it didn’t come with the grout removal attachment so while it charged, I grabbed the attachment at my local home improvement store. 

I always do the happy dance when I get to break in a new tool. 

You too? 

dremel multimax grout removal


Removing tile is messy and can be hazardous so I armed myself with tarps, safety goggles and some gloves. 

safety goggles gloves


The MultiMax was really easy to use ~ the attachments come on and off with the help of a simple hex key. 

hex key dremel


I was especially concerned with preserving the other surrounding white tile since it’s staying.  This grout cutting tool made perfectly smooth cuts, so it really helped achieve that.

 dremel and tile

dremel up close


The first few pieces came out pretty easy with the help of the Dremel.  About 200 more taps of the chisel and hammer . . . 

removing tile


. . . and here’s what we were left with. 



We had to repair some of the sheetrock that came out with the tile, so we fixed it with some patching compound and drywall mesh tape. 

drywall mesh tape


Now we have a nice clean ‘canvas’ for the new white tile going in today.

no backsplash


Today Ramon is coming over.  Ramon is our good friend.  Ramon has tiling skills.  Ramon has a big tile saw.  Ramon will teach Kate how to cut and install tile.  Kate is one happy gal !!

I’ve got a few other projects I’ve been working on too, can’t wait to share.  Until then, happy home improvement!





  1. I’d love to see this project unfold. We have some terrible forest green tiles as accents in our shower and I’ve been hating them since we got here…but have no idea how to remove and replace them.

  2. WOW! I need one of those. My husband and I were just discussing replacing the tile in our bathroom, and the dreaded demo work. This tool looks way to fun!

  3. I can hardly wait to see what you’ve chosen to replace the fruit basket!!! I love new tools too! We got my dad a multi-purpose tool for Christmas, and I’ve been thinking about getting one for myself!

  4. I can’t wait to see the final reveal! I bet it’s kind of therapeutic to rip out a bunch of tiles. I had some trouble viewing all the pictures on your post, but the pic of the “blank canvas” was pretty cool. I hope Ramon shows you all of his tiling secrets!

  5. Thanks for reminding me and inspiring me that I can do this project myself. I’ve been wanting to remove our kitchen tile since we moved in. Is the tool you used only necessary if removing partial part of the tile or is it a necessity if I plan to remove all the tile? I’ve never done this before. Thanks for your help!

  6. Thanks so much for posting this! I have to pull up broken tiles in my kitchen floor and didn’t know where to start. Like so much on your site, I will reference this. Good luck, I can’t wait to see it when its done.

  7. I was just thinking that I wanted to remove the grout in our bathroom and re-grout. Is that crazy? I actually just wanted to re-grout right over the stuff from the 40’s since it’s icky and no amount of bleach is getting it white enough for me. Did the attachment keep the tiles around it in tact? Maybe I’ll just forget about the bathroom and tile the kitchen. It can’t be that hard, can it?

  8. Thanks for the tips. I plan on removing my lovely avacado green back splash tile in my kitchen this summer and using the Dremel tool for the grout lines seems like the way to go. Can’t wait to see your reveal!

  9. I LOVE tiling! We recently did our backsplash, and did the entire kitchen/dining room in our previous house. We even got the MultiMax! We’d really like to redo the entry/hall/powder room in our current house but the thought of tearing out the existing tile with all of the underlayment has me intimidated. We also have accent tiles in our shower that I’m not crazy about that I’d love to do this to – I never thought of being able to just cut them out. Poor husband, another thing on our LONG to-do list!

  10. I haven’t ever removed tile, but installing tile is one of my favorites. Mostly because of the way it looks when it is finished. Less so because of the incredible number of muscles I learn about it. I hear tiling backsplash is a doozy :-) You go girl. ~Barbara

  11. Can’t wait to see what you come up with! We recently did our backsplash too (but didn’t have to remove anything). All I had to do was follow my husband as he grouted and wipe off the grout. That was hard enough work as it is!! Can’t imagine doing it all!! Good for you! I’d love to learn how to use some tools

  12. I can’t wait to see the big reveal. What a great tool. I hope you get a chance to drop by and join in on my first blog party. Thanks.

  13. I second the awesomeness of this tool. I haven’t personally used it, but my husband and I built a house last year, and toward the end of a series of snafus regarding the radiant heating under the master bathroom floor, all of the grout had to be removed and redone. Thanks to this tool, the tile guy was able to take all of the grout out relatively quickly and without hurting any of the tile.

  14. It might sound stupid, but it always makes me happy to see all DIY-girls out there that are not afraid to use the tools and go for the harder part of the DIY. It’s kind of sad when the guys are doing all the tool-related work and the girls just paint and add cushions, kind of.

    Your blog is a true source of inspiration. Can’t wait to see the after pictures!

  15. Oh awesome! I’m actually in the middle of removing tile myself. The small tile in the half bathroom came up easily, but the big squares are a bear. This technique will hopefully prove to be the answer.

  16. Girl, you are SO brave. My mother-in-law does stuff like that to her (beautiful) home, too and I’m always in awe of her “I’m doing it!” attitude. I just get sooo scared to do something to my house. But seeing you doing it to your lovely home gives me courage. As such, I’ll give my husband your blog address and tell him it was all your doing if I mess up!!

  17. Oh I’m so jealous! I want to remove my tile too! I have a vision of tin on my back-splash. I can’t wait to see what you put there.

  18. LIAR!

    YOU ROCK THE BUMPIT! and I totally laughed out loud and told Jamin the story and he was all, “good story” but this makes me VERY happy. PHOTO DOCUMENTATION! PROOF of the bumpit!

    You’re kind of my hero with the hardcore tile usage. and I’m super excited about your abstract. And I only wish my hair looked that good.

  19. you go girl! I just had my foyer tile ripped up and I’m working on a new design. I’m tempted to do a DIY if the quote comes in too big. Can I borrow Ramon and his saw?!

  20. Congratulations on getting this done! Isn’t it funny how our taste can change and something we once lived can sometimes be something that we need to get out of our homes immediately. Your kitchen is gorgeous and it looks like the final touch is coming out perfectly.

  21. I LOVE this! So helpful! I’m moving into a new house in a week and I know I’m going to have lots of little projects to do… putting up a tile backsplash is one of them, so I’m awaiting your next post anxiously!
    – Catherine at The Spring

  22. What a job girlfriend!! Could you come over to my house and help out with a 1949 pink tile bathroom??? Caught you on the Nate show today! You looked darling the your DIY projects presented beautifully!

  23. I bought a Dremel and am in the midst of removing backsplash tile in my kitchen. Sadly, there is plaster (ca. 1954) not drywall behind my tile, so there will be lots of patching to do. However, I focus on the nice new tile that I have purchased and how it will look so much better when it is installed. This happy thought keeps me going!

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