Installing tile over a concrete mesh floor provides a durable, solid surface for the tile that prevents tiles and grout from shifting and cracking. Installing a tile-over-mesh floor consists of layering concrete onto a cement board or plywood sub-floor, laying wire mesh and then setting tiles in a bed of mortar or thin-set adhesive. Once the tile sets in a mortar bed, it becomes one with the concrete, which makes removal of both the concrete and the tile necessary. If the tile is set with thin-set adhesive, removing the concrete is optional as long as it is in good repair. This is a messy project, but is a job a do-it-yourself type homeowner will accomplish with success.
Tiles Set in Thin-set Adhesive
Don safety goggles, dust mask and gloves.
Place a cold chisel over the center of any tile on the floor. Hit the cold chisel with a heavy weight hammer to break the tile. Break out four to six tiles in this manner.
Place a heavyweight coal shovel at the edge of the broken tile, and forcefully push the shovel to lift and remove the surrounding tiles and wire mesh.
Scrape thin-set adhesive off the concrete with a wire brush or grinder, or use a heat gun to heat the adhesive and then scrape it off.
Hit the concrete forcefully with a sledgehammer to break it up and remove it. Continue until all concrete is gone.
Tiles Set In a Mortar Bed
Wear safety goggles, dust mask and gloves.
Chip away at the tile and concrete with an electric or gas-powered chipping hammer, which is a small version of a jackhammer.
Remove debris from the floor as tile and concrete becomes loose and movable.
Continue to chip the floor away until you expose the sub-floor.
If the bed is unknown, chip away at the tile to expose the materials underneath. If the material is a dark brown or black and very thin, it is adhesive. If the material is gray and 1/2-inch thick or greater, it is a mortar bed.
Do not hit the tile floor with a sledgehammer because sharp shards of tile become projectiles and will cause injury. Always remove the tile first.