Tile can be difficult to remove if you do not have the right tools. This is especially true if you want to preserve the tile for use in another location. One of the most common tools used for renovation or demolition work is the rotary hammer drill.
Can I Use a Hammer Drill to Remove Tile?
You cannot use a regular hammer drill to remove tiles since they are designed with rotary motion for drilling and driving. What you need is a rotary hammer drill for tile removal. Rotary hammers have a chiseling or hammer only mode (with no rotion) that you can use for chiseling.
I know that these terms can be confusing. Just remember that the rotary hammer is the one with a “hammer only” mode. The hammer drill is more like a regular drill where the hammering action occurs as the drill bit spins.
Is rotary hammer drill the best tool for tile removal?
It will depend on the type of tile that you want to remove. A hammer drill is an excellent option for tile that is made from softer materials. This is because the hammering action can get underneath and separate the tile from the flooring.
The hammering action of the drill with the right attachment can get under the tile quickly and efficiently. Plus, it removes the burden of having to use your muscles to achieve the same thing, only slower and with more soreness once you have completed the task.
The versatile hammer drill takes the burden away from your muscles and applies mechanical force to the tiles and flooring. You can remove a wide range of tile materials from the floor, but what about ceramic tiles?
How Do You Remove Ceramic Tile with a Hammer Drill?
The answer is that you do not use a hammer drill to remove ceramic tile. Unless you do not care about the ceramic tile at all, then you should choose another tool to do the job. This is because while ceramic tile is quite hard, it is also quite brittle when trying to separate it from the floor. However, there is an exception to this answer if you use the right tool attachment.
A hammer drill alone will not do the job if the goal is to preserve the tile. If you do not care about the tile, then go right ahead, although it may still not be the best tool.
So, what is the best tool for removing ceramic tile?
A rotary or demolition hammer is generally better thanks to the type of motion it uses to remove the ceramic tile. This means less chances of breakage and having to clean up small pieces. Plus, it will avoid at least some of the dust and debris common with ceramic tile removal.
Use a Tile Chisel
The old-fashioned chisel is the time-honored, but laborious way to remove tile, particularly ceramic tile from the floor. The tile chisel is a hardened steel bar with a sharp shovel-like shape on one end, and a blunt end where it can be struck by a hammer.
The tile chisel is effective, if rather slow. And for those who have not used a manual tile chisel, it can become quite tiring if you are removing a considerable number of tiles. But there is a precision and pace that you can set by doing it manually that a mechanical device may not be able to duplicate. Of course, that may not be enough of an advantage. An alternative is putting a chisel attachment on the hammer drill.
Hammer Drill Chisel Bit
The tile chisel attachment to the hammer drill alters the type of impact being delivered to the tile itself. You use it in the same manner as a manual tile chisel, but the difference is that the drill is doing all the work.
Depending on the tool holding system on your roto hammer, you either need an SDS-plus or SDS-max chisel bit. Attach the chisel bit and place it at a 45-degree angle at the edge of a tile. Be sure that you can turn on the drill while it is in the hammer mode. Then flip the switch and guide the drill so that it breaks under the tile and lifts it up from the floor.
You generally work from side to side, lifting rows of tiles horizontal to your position. Then once a row is complete, move forward and set the tile chisel attachment under the next row of tiles and repeat. You may want to stop every so often to clear away the dust and debris. But then again, more dust and debris are going to build up as you work.Warning: Make sure that your power tool is in the right mode. If you use the chisel bit in drill mode, the broken tiles could fly and may cause serious injury.
Removing the Mortar
In many cases, you will find after the tile has been removed the mortar that held it in place. Since few people want to preserve the mortar, you can use the same hammer drill with chisel attachment to power away the material. You can create any pattern you want, but it is generally best to work in sections to fully remove the mortar.
The bottom line is that removing ceramic tiles using a rotary hammer drill and chisel bit attachment can work if you are careful. That assumes the goal is to keep each tile intact. If you do not care, then by all means hammer away.