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Can Old Tile Be Removed And Reuse

Sometimes, a situation arises where there is a need to reuse ceramic tiles, or any tiles for that matter. Ceramic tiles create beautiful designs on walls, floors, and counters. And they offer low-maintenance options for these locations.

You may find it hard to bid goodbye to the familiar tile patterns when it comes time to remodel your bathroom or kitchen. With some care, you can remove the old tile and clean away old mortar so that you can reuse the familiar patterns in a new location.

Such a situation sometimes does come up. In this review, George Ceramic shares underlying reasons, and what to do when you need to keep your existing bathroom tiles and reuse what is currently there.As you remove your old tile, you may wonder if you can reuse the tiles you remove.

Unfortunately, doing so will not usually work. One main reason for this is that tile is often installed using mortar and epoxy. The mortar becomes another portion of the tile on the wall when it dries and, even if it comes off of the wall or floor unbroken, the bottom will not be level.


All of this said, it is unlikely that you’ll be able to reuse ceramic tiles, but it is not entirely impossible.If you are replacing just a small section of tile, you may find you wish to reuse the existing ones since it is sometimes hard to find an exact match. Manufacturers often change things, meaning the older designs and styles might no longer be available.

Alternatively, you might want to try to save a bit of money on the project. If you are taking the time to redo an entire area, however, you may find it’s worth getting a new tile to ensure the best possible result.

We also have a previous article about Repurpose Your Leftover Tiles, I hope it will be helpful to you.

Effort Required

To remove tiles, you will need to place a chisel near the grout line and gently tap it to get the tile loose. It may crack or chip in the process, however. It takes a lot of time and the correct tools, so you may find it better to get new tiles.

If you do want to try to reuse ceramic tiles, you’ll need to clean and re-level them following removal. Once you have removed the tiles, you will need to soak each of the tiles in a cleaning solution and then scrape off the mortar if you want to reuse them.

You can then rinse off the tiles and wipe them down. It is best to wipe a warm, wet sponge over the tile’s surface to get the rest of the dust off. You can also use some steel wool to rub over the grout, which may help it come off better. Still, you will want to avoid scratching the surface of the tile itself.

Once you have cleaned the area and there is not any remaining grout, you can give it a final wipe-down and let it dry out. However, you will want to inspect the tile since this process may not get all the mortar off. If the tiles are not even, they will not lay consistently. 

Another issue with reusing tile is that the ceramic is relatively brittle. Even if you were able to clean them off after removal, they could easily break. Removing tile is relatively tedious, and the process is fairly rigorous, particularly if you want to use them again. Salvaging these tiles is not very typical since they can easily break during the removal process. 

When it comes to ceramic tile, you are often better off purchasing new ones. In addition to saving you time, effort, and possible injury, new tiles will look nicer than ones that have been in place for a long time. The right supplier can offer you advice on picking ones that look similar to the old ones you had.

How to Remove and Reuse Ceramic Wall Tile

Ceramic tile is one of the more durable kinds of tile, especially if it’s glazed and has been properly cared for. If you want to take the tiles off one wall and apply them to another, it is possible, but it’s a lot of work to get them off the walls undamaged, so make sure it’s worth it.

If the tiles are unique and you can’t just buy replacements, you’ll need to extract the grout and the tiles one by one and clean them up for reuse. Make sure you only use them on walls, not floors, as wall tile isn’t suitable for foot traffic.

Porcelain tile is one of the more durable tiles, especially if it is Glazed Porcelain Tile and is properly cared for. If the tiles are one-of-a-kind and you can’t just buy replacements, you’ll need to extract the grout and tiles individually and clean them for reuse.

Extract the grout from around the tile you want to remove, using a grout saw. Score and dig at the grout with the sharp edge of the saw, breaking into the surface and gradually digging down. Remove the grout from all around the tile, taking care not to scratch or chip the tile or the surrounding tiles.

Hold a steel putty knife into the line on one side of the tile, with the flat end pressing against the base of the tile at an angle.Hold a steel putty knife into the line on one side of the tile, with the flat end pressing against the base of the tile at an angle.

Hammer gently at the back of the putty knife, getting it under the edge of the tile. Pull the knife out, move it to another part of the tile, and repeat.Continue working your way gradually around the edge of the tile, tapping the putty knife between the tile and the wall, until enough of the mortar loosens to release the tile.

Use the putty knife to clean up the wall, scraping off the residual mortar and getting it flat and smooth.Scrape the back and sides of the extracted tile with a razor scraper,removing all the residual mortar and grout. Don’t scrape the face of the tile.

Repeat the process for each tile that you want to salvage. Reuse the extracted tiles by spreading thin-set tile mortar over the new wall with a notched trowel. Press the tiles into place with 3 mm (1/8 inch) of space between them. Let them set overnight, then spread grout into the spaces with a grout float, wiping up the excess grout with a damp sponge.


If you decide to reuse ceramic tiles, whilst there is a ‘cost’ saving to be had, in our opinion it’s more beneficial to the aesthetic appearance of the bathroom.If you had to buy new tiles, they would cost anything from around £15 per meter upwards.

In all fairness to quantify the labour time taken in soaking the tiles overnight and cleaning them up would probably work out considerably more expensive. As a general rule of thumb, most tilers would charge approximately £25 per meter to fix the tiles to the wall.

Reusing tiles in a standard bathroom with approximately 10m of tiles would save you £400.The aesthetic gain of having all the tiles in your bathroom match each other far outweighs any cost implication, especially if you are unable to find even a close match to the existing tiles.

In conclusion, this article has shown that tile once installed can be removed and reused. Several genuine reasons could warrant such a decision to reuse, such as; unavailability of exact design, design out of stock or out of production, or it could even be for economic reasons.

Whatever the reason, it is a decision that should be thought out. Once you are cleared in your mind, be prepared to observe safety tips for injury-free removal of your old tile and follow the three-step guide summarized below.

Gear Up for Safety

Before you start any tile removal work, grab safety gear to prevent injury. Wear protective goggles when removing tiles, grout, and mortar. Removal efforts can produce dust and small pieces of stone or tile that can easily damage your eyes.

Wearing long sleeves and long pants can prevent scrapes and cuts. If you use any chemical products for removing mortar from the tile, keep the area well-ventilated to keep fumes out of your workspace.

Chisel Out the Grout

Before you can remove the tile, you need to get rid of the grout that fills the gaps. This lets you get your tools under the edges of the tiles. Cut into the grout surrounding the tiles with a sharp utility knife. You can also use a putty knife and hammer to chisel away the grout.

Or head to the home improvement store to get a grout remover tool to help chip away the grout. Remove all grout surrounding the tiles you wish to remove so that you have access to the edges of the tiles.

Remove the Tiles

With the edges exposed, you can carefully pry the tiles away from the wall or floor. Insert the putty knife under the edge of the first tile as low as it will go. Lower the handle so that the knife is as close to parallel with the floor as possible without cracking the tile. Use care in this step so you can keep the tiles whole and undamaged.

Gently tap the back of the knife with your handle to drive it under the tile. Continue until the tile pops free of its location. Pull or pry up the tile and set it aside. Continue removing tiles until you have all of them clear from the wall or floor.

Start Removing Mortar from Tile

With the tiles free from the wall or floor, you can now start cleaning them so can reuse the tile. Lay the tiles face down, and use the putty knife to scrape across the tile back, removing as much old mortar as possible. Be careful not to exert too much pressure downward on the tile, or you could cause it to crack.

Click to learn:What Tiles Are Available

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