Tearing Out Tile Flooring

Tips for tearing out tile flooring and putting in wood flooring.
Putting in Wood Flooring

Q: How much cost and time would be involved if we bought a house with a tile floor in several rooms and wanted to replace it with hardwood flooring? Is it worth the hassle and expense?

A: The first step is to remove the tile floor. This part of the job can be easy or difficult depending on how the tile was installed, but often homeowners can do the demolition work themselves. Start by determining whether the tile was set into mortar or simply glued down to the subfloor. If the tile is set in mortar, the job will be much harder. Sometimes the mortar can be up to 4 inches thick. In that case, power tools such as a rotary hammer will be required to chip out the tile and mortar. Go to a home improvement center to rent tools and get tips on using them.

If the tile is simply glued down with an adhesive, you might be able to use a crowbar and hammer. Once you get a tile started, the rest come up easy. To determine whether the tile is set in a bed of mortar or is glued down, pull up the grate from a floor register and look around the rim below the floor level. If there is no floor register, you might have to pull up the threshold of an exterior door to see what's under the tile.

A local flooring company can give you a price quote on installing solid-wood floors (and removing the tile if you wish). It generally costs $5-$15 per square foot to have hardwood flooring installed and finished professionally. This price varies depending on labor costs, where you live and the type of wood you choose. (You can save money if you finish the floor yourself.) You can also install prefinished hardwood flooring. The price may end up being higher, but the job will get done quicker and with less mess.