How to Rip Out a Ceramic Tile Floor

I made a video of this process and I had the camera set up the wrong way. Vertically. Which is wrong. I wanted to address this before I addressed anything else about ripping out my floor.

So let’s watch the video.

Spending 3 days ripping out tile, cement, wire mesh and plywood tends to wear a person down. It wasn’t nearly as bad a job as I thought it was going to be, but … it was bad enough that I wasn’t quite thinking straight. Hence the vertical video. And the meal on Tuesday night of a Hungry Man dinner.

A HUNGRY MAN FROZEN DINNER. That is what I ate. I have no idea what the fella ate. Cat hair maybe. The most perplexing part is I thought the frozen dinner was going to be really good.  Anything that didn’t involve cooking or even chewing really, seemed enticing.

Mid demolition I had to run into my local drugstore for something and saw the Hungry Man dinners on sale. I grabbed 2 of them thinking they’d be as good as I remembered them being when I was a kid.  I’m a sucker for fake mashed potatoes. Mmmm.  The Hungry Man dinner was one of the weirdest things I’ve eaten in a long time.

It just occurred to me that this post isn’t about frozen dinners. It’s about ripping out a ceramic tile floor.

O.K. This isn’t a real tutorial because demolition is pretty much just breaking things, shovelling them and dragging them out of the house. All while looking as cute as a used vomit bag.

I do have 2 tips for you if you’re going to demo a ceramic tile floor though. You *can* rent tools to do this, but you don’t need to. It’s not fun, but it’s not that hard either. It can definitely be done manually.

What you *should* invest in is a Super Wonder Pry Bar.  Or something like it.




Also, buy yourself a roofing shovel. It’ll make ripping up the plywood floors easier.  I did not invest in a roofing shovel and used a flat end shovel instead.  It worked fine, but a roofing shovel would have been better. I just plain old couldn’t be bothered to go out and buy a roofing shovel. I ate a Hungry Man frozen dinner for God’s sake. I was obviously in a fragile state.



Lest you think from the minute long video, everything was easy, here are a few shots revealing the true mess of everything during the ceramic tile phase of this Big Spring Project. Click on the picture to see the full sized images.

Now just the heated floors, self levelling concrete, tile adhesive and the actual tiles to go. Please send help. Or yes … even a Hungry Man dinner.


  1. kelliblue says:

    good lord Karen! WHERE is the fella during all this and WHY isn’t he helping you??? *scoffing and snorting*

    At the very least, he owes you a nice long full body massage…because you’ll need it!

    Other than that…WOW. YOU ARE WOMAN HEAR YOU ROAR! Way to go…or is that LET’S GO?! :)

  2. Denise Leavens says:

    Thank you for having the flying hammer moment in your video! I laughed out loud – there is nothing relaxed or elegant about my laugh – and smiled for an hour after that.

    My propensity for cracking up to the point of laying-on-the-floor-until-I-can-catch-my-breath when my own hammer goes flying no longer amuses my husband.

    I guess the honeymoon is over.

  3. Rita says:

    Reminds me of when we reno’d our basement. We gutted it completely (had to fix the foundation and decided to remodel while we were at it). I got to destroy the fireplace surround with a 10 pound sledge. It was hard work, but oh so satisfying! The worst part was carrying out the debris.

  4. sera says:

    oh also, I laughed out loud at your vertical video. I ALWAYS do this because I’m using my phone. doh!

  5. Call Me Patty says:

    Karen, You’re my hero woman. Listen if I lived on your side of the country, I would so make dinner for you and drop it off until you were done with your reno. You would deserve someone doing that for you. Rock on!

  6. Lin says:

    You go girl! I like the occassional Hungry Man Turkey dinner. BIG job yer tackling….and with such elegance. Nice butt shot lol. Look forward to more video coverage from ‘Karen’s Latest Bit of Awesomeness’.

  7. Rondina says:

    Well, that went fast. But you definitely weren’t yourself when you bought those frozen dinners. I didn’t even think they sold those things anymore. Please, please show the self-leveling concrete. I have to do this in the mudroom and would love to see you do it first. They always mix it in giant containers that look way to heavy to carry.

  8. Susan says:

    Wow, I’m so proud of you! I’d never think of doing it myself. Does rendering leaf lard count? I did that yesterday.

    I’ve been making (melt and pour) soap, bread and gonna learn to use Mom’s spinning wheel she gave me yesterday, and got to hang up the laundry outside right now….see I’m OLD minded too. STILL won’t own a cell phone….at least I’m stubborn!

    Nope, not gonna redo a floor…”Oh John…can you….”
    Hugs, Susan

  9. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Did the Fella eat his Hungry Man Dinner? After the great meals you two have it must be a shock to your knew you could do it Karen! And quite elegantly too!

  10. Barbie says:

    OH and I forgot… favorite part of the video is when you swung the hammer and it went flying off. LOL been there done that!

  11. Sera says:

    Wow Karen! You’re amazing! I am totally worried about the bathroom side of things. How on earth are you going to do under the tub? It’s clawfoot right?
    Anyway, we took easily six full days to demo our kitchen area. I have no idea how you did this in one day!

  12. Barbie says:

    YOU ROCK! How is your back feeling BTW? I can hardly wait to see the finished product….it is going to look so awesome!! I’m sure the Fella thinks your a Goddess…..well…..he already knew that I am sure!

  13. Jeannie B says:

    Karen, I have so much admiration for women who take on projects such as this. I had a lovely neighbour who used to take on jobs, that most of us would hire out. She put a new roof on her house, all by herself. She vinyl sided her house, all by herself. She also designed and built a home up in Muskoka and that’s where she lives now. Bottom line, she saved a lot of money doing things herself. And yes, she does have a husband. Women who keep their fingernails short can do most anything. More power to you!

  14. toekneetoni says:

    very impressed. go Karen go!

  15. Nicki Woo says:

    OOOOHHHH. I thought you said invest in a Super Wonder Power Bra. I was thinking. . .my husband might really consider this project. But you said pry bar. . .darnit to heck.

  16. U rockstar — go girl!

  17. Karen??? Forget me not??? I SWEAR my gmail account and kelleycreekfarms account are one in the same, but I don’t know how to reply from “” *lol*
    I need to know how to get my awesome lookmatic glasses and also know how fragile you are ripping out floors eating tv dinners!!
    I ripped out a parquet wood floor once. OMG never again…

    • Karen says:

      Kim! I’ve forwarded your information to the Lookmatic people. They’ll be in touch. I’ll contact them again to remind them. ~ karen!

  18. Janet says:

    Love the music for your video! I’m really, really, really, glad you used safety glasses. You are so inspiring…I feel energized. I wish my hubby would leave town for a few weeks. It’s the only way my floor would get done. Keep up the good work, Karen.
    Can’t wait to see the results.

  19. RuthyJ says:

    I’m tired just watching you. *sigh*

  20. ruth says:

    I would so give up after the first tile. You are my hero.

  21. jackie says:

    Weird, I click on play and it switches to an old man coming in to an apartment elevator. NO jokes. Footage from a security camera. WTH??? Then it goes back to you so I press play again and the same thing happens, switches from you to that. Normally I would think this was your sense of humour, but nope, everyone else is commenting on the video of YOU doing work. This is weird.

  22. LOL I was rockin’ that music in your video this morning, Karen. What is it? I want it! Love the shoes. Love the tools. Love, love, love it. It just all screams “relaxed and elegant manner.” ;-) Best of luck.

  23. Brenda says:

    We (myself & hubby) ripped out our entire kitchen, (cabinets, flooring) two years ago. It was horrendous. We have 2 teenagers that just kind of got in the way. BTW – my daughter took pictures of the process and snapped one of my butt while I was on the counter ripping out wall cabinets. It was promptly deleted. It was nowhere near as photogenic as yours. We still have to redo 3 bathrooms and I’m just dreading it, because they are tiled — tiled walls and tiled floors. Blech.

  24. natalie says:

    – a Man Hungry (for) Dinner is just not happening.
    couldn’t resist.

  25. Feral Turtle says:

    I would say you looked extremely elegant!! I love the President Choice frozen dinners, butter chicken, chicken korma. I keep them in the freezer for my elegant days, except I am usually dressed in my Chanel or Dior. Radiant floor heat rules!!

  26. Lisa says:

    had to watch again, had volume off! Nice job!

  27. Nancy Eileen says:

    Huge job …I’m so very impressed!
    We’ll be doing the same in a few months.
    I suppose I’ll avoid the Hungry Man and do a little precooking.
    Have a good one!

  28. Debbie W. says:

    Wow, you rock!!! There is something about watching someone else work (in fast forward was my fav!) while you sit idly by and drink coffee!! Where is the fella in all of this?! Thank heavens the weather is warming up this week, and you have a beautiful backyard to retreat to!! Thanks for sharing!

  29. Jeff Walker says:

    Oh my God Karen. You are an animal! Fearless! Hey did you ever decide on a gray? Would love to know what you decide.

  30. Amanda says:

    Mmm. Corn niblets and chicken nuggets.
    I’ve removed tile once. You couldn’t pay me to do it again. You definitely earned your Hungry Man. And probably a bottle of wine.

  31. Ann says:


    You can easily get a portable loo to use when the toilet has to be taken out. It is simply a toilet seat that can be put over a 5 gallon bucket. It is a great thing to have put away for true plumbing emergency so it is an essential for someone who only has one bathroom in the house. I would not want to use one for long but it sure can be handy if something happened to take out your water supply or your sewer pipes get seriously clogged by roots.

    Good for you on getting that floor up. I am all for do-it-yourself projects but I have gotten to the age where I simply can not do the heavy stuff. So we have to hire it all out. We are getting ready to take the ceiling down in our sunporch and re-do it with a nicer wood planking. We shall see if we can even handle this. I have a stinking suspicion that we will start to get into the project and find out that we can’t do it and have to find someone to finish it for us. Getting older sure has its down side!!

  32. Jackie says:

    Oh goodness, I’m having flashbacks to when we ripped up the pink marble tile in our foyer. We started out with a pneumatic chisel, which should have “just lifted them right up”. 15 minutes into it my husband just started smashing it with a hammer… We still have yet to get up of the thinset left on the hardwood floor.

  33. susan w says:

    Yet another testimonial for your Bogs.

    Why not pull out the toilet and reinstall (unless you don’t have an alternative beyond the back yard). It seems it would be simpler to lay the floor then reset toilet atop the new surface.

  34. Sally says:

    You are a marvel! Well done. I will be very interested in the self leveling concrete process. I have a bathroom that is awaiting this process. Really, you should feel great, in spite of the Hungry Man dinner.

  35. jane says:

    Are you keeping the tub? If not, will you have to cut it in half to get it out of the house? Those tubs are HEAVY.

  36. Mary Kay says:

    Ohh the memories – I do not fondly recall – I hope you have a bathroom #2 – Having only one bathroom and living in construction just plain sucks.

  37. Reg says:

    Brave Karen. I don’t know which was worse. The whole demolition mess or the Hungry Man Dinner. After all that work you should reward yourself with something better than Hungry Man. Maybe fella could bring some favourite take-out home? You deserve it.
    Note to fella: Take better care of Karen.

  38. Aimee says:

    You are so brave!

  39. ev says:

    Hats off to you! Your house will be a palace when you get done remaking it! Thanks for the vid and pics. And you are going to cook, too? I would not be able to handle cooking. Good luck, Karen. If it can be done, YOU will do it, and well!

  40. Candice says:

    Cool Ramones tune! My husband is impressed with your taste in music and we’re both exhausted after watching your video! lol!!!

  41. RosieW says:

    I hope you’re proud of yourself!

    Next time around, try large squares of really absorbent cotton dampened and tied like a banditos mask, instead of those fog everything masks. Cotton diapers work great. Have several.

    If you’re doing more flooring removal, treat yourself to the Red Devil Slamscraper. It has a ratcheting action, been around a long time, super effective tool.


  42. Auntiepatch says:

    I’ll say it again: you are my hero!

  43. Kat says:

    Way to go Karen, I am awfully proud of you. That is/was some nasty crap. Please no mosaic tutorials with all that broken tile. Keep the craft ideas at bay during the remodel! Laughing Hysterically!!!

  44. kate says:

    Wow you did a lot! And is that another tile floor I see underneath the plywood?! – don’t blame you for getting rid of the tile – I don’t like it a bit, either. Glad you keep the safety glasses on but, please, keep the face mask on during all the demolition – all that old, cruddy dust and all – I worry about you.

    • Karen says:

      I’ll be fine. Don’t you worry about me. I had the mask on for the majority of it but OMG it’s so hot and it kept steaming up my safety glasses so I couldn’t breath AND I couldn’t see. It was a nightmare. ~ k

  45. Toronto Boy says:

    Holy shitaki mushrooms dude/dudette! =O

    I’ve got the similar style of tiles in the main foyer area, hallway and kitchen. Weird!

    Okay, I gotta ask …

    In photograph # 4, since you’re installing heated floors, did you remove or leave the tiles under the kitchen cabinetry?

    • Karen says:

      Tiles removed from under stove, fridge and dishwasher. Tiles only but up to other cabinets, so didn’t (and wouldn’t have) remove any underneath. ~ k!

  46. Karen B says:

    You are a brave and crazy lady.

  47. Anemone says:

    Your butt looks good btw.

  48. Anemone says:

    I don’t know why I read super wonder ply bra. You are doing great. Look at all that dust. I don’t know how you are dealing with it. Very elegant indeed…that pic of you among the debris in your kitchen…and of your butt in my face at 0:11.

  49. Wendy W says:

    Karen, where are your safety glasses?

    • Karen says:

      Wendy W – They’re on my face! You might not be able to see them in the video. They’re completely clear. Clera lenses and clear arms. ~ karen!

    • Karen says:

      Wendy W – They’re on my face! You might not be able to see them in the video. They’re completely clear. Cleat lenses and clear arms. ~ karen!

    • Karen says:

      Wendy W – They’re on my face! You might not be able to see them in the video. They’re completely clear. Clear lenses and clear arms. ~ karen!

  50. Marti says:

    Is that the “roofing shovel” in the photo there, all by its lonesome?

    I actually do think that main still of you squatted down in the middle of the destroyed room is rather elegant. “Suitable for framing,” as it were.

    Well done!

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