DIY Guide: How to Remove Tile Underlayment

So you are interested to learn how to remove tile underlayment?

Remodeling tile floors is always a hard work. However, the right tools can help you make the job much easier. If you have no experience demolishing tiles and underlayment, there’s nothing to worry about.

You don’t have to be an expert to do the job by yourself. You just have to follow some useful and easy to understand tips. Today you’ll learn how to remove tile underlayment like a pro.

What is Tile Underlayment?

Tile underlayment are the different support layers that provide resistance and stability to tile floors, preventing them from breakage due to traffic. These layers are usually composed of sand and cement mortar, wire mesh, adhesive and other materials.

Usually, cement mortar layers are difficult to remove, especially when the concentration of cement in the mixture is too high. Overly resistant materials usually require power tools.

It’s true that a long hammer can apply enough force to break the mortar into pieces. However, demolishing a large area with manual procedures would take too much time.

When it comes to saving time, pneumatic and electric tools are the best for these cases. A demolition hammer is more than enough to reduce labor and runtime costs.

It’s necessary to know the working conditions to choose the indicated size and the tip of your tool. The more volume of material you need to remove, the larger the size of your demolition hammer must be.

When the material is too strong, as reinforced concrete, for example, it’s better to choose pointed tips. This will allow focusing the greater amount of energy in a small point, favoring the breakage of the material.

Step by Step Guide of How to Remove Tile Underlayment

In some cases, removing tile underlayment can be very easy. With strong arms and the right tools, you can do it by yourself in no time.

In other cases, tile underlayment is so strong that requires extra help from automated tools to not spend too much energy. Whatever the difficulty of the case, this is what you should do:

Use Safety Equipment

During demolition work, there’s always accident risk. Your head, eyes, hands and feet are usually the most vulnerable areas. Prepare a basic safety equipment kit that includes:

  • Helmet
  • Lenses
  • Face mask
  • Gloves
  • Boots

Prepare Your Tools

To remove tile underlayment, you basically need a long hammer, a conventional hammer and a chisel. If things get out of control, you could use power tools like a demolition hammer.

Start Demolishing

To weaken the concrete mortar, it’s necessary to apply sufficient energy. To do this, raise the long hammer as much as you can, avoiding touching the ceiling. Then push it down at high speed, using both arms.

The great energy of the blow will begin to break the mortar into pieces. Repeat the same process until all the mortar to be demolished fragments completely.

Then, with the help of a conventional hammer and a chisel, remove those small mortar pieces that didn’t come off the ground.

If the mortar is too resistant, use the demolition hammer. You just have to set the tip on a low point, then press the trigger and apply pressure while the mortar begins to break.

You must hold your demolition hammer tightly so that it doesn’t slip from your hands. Most accidents usually happen due to improper handling of the tool.

Also be sure to maintain a stable position with your legs slightly open, to prevent you from falling to the floor. These machines can transmit too much vibration to the body, affecting your balance.

To avoid accidents stay focused on your work and always alert. Your reflexes can be your greatest protection.

Shred the Biggest Pieces

When you’re done, try to eliminate the larger pieces for better handling and disposal of waste.

Clean and Discard

Using your hands, take the mortar pieces and store them in a debris bag. Beware of putting too much weight in the bag, because it could break when you lift it. If there are pieces of wire mesh, make sure to avoid contact with the bag.

Finally, clean the dust with a broom and a shovel. Discard everything in the same bag. Then seal and discard in a suitable place.


If you follow these tips, there will be no hard enough cement mortar that stands between you and success. Always remember to ensure safe conditions in the work area to prevent accidents and serious injuries.

Don’t spend too much time and effort on something that you cannot demolish manually. If you don’t have money to buy a power tool, you can also rent one.

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