Wear gloves, safety glasses, and a face mask. Tile shards can be very sharp, so wear thick work gloves and safety glasses when handling them. Wear long sleeves and pants while working to avoid any cuts. Though breaking apart ceramic doesn’t produce a lot of dust, wearing a face mask will prevent you from breathing in any that does get kicked up. If you’re working on a large tile floor, wear knee pads so you stay comfortable.
Some tiles may break apart and others may come up undamaged. Use a chisel with a wide-backed handle so you can easily hit it with your hammer. Chiseling out your tiles takes the longest amount of time, but ensures that you don’t damage anything underneath the tiles.
Use a chisel and hammer to lift the tiles. Hold the chisel with your non-dominant hand so the sharp edge is against the bottom of the tile. Hit the end of your chisel’s handle with a hammer to loosen the tiles from the floor.
Break the tiles with a hammer or sledgehammer if you don’t need to save them. Start with tiles on the outer edge of the room or wall. Use a hammer on small wall tiles or a 3–5 lb (1.4–2.3 kg) sledgehammer for larger floor tiles. Work across the whole room until all the tiles are destroyed. Wear earplugs if the sound starts to bother you. Don’t use a sledgehammer if you don’t want to damage drywall or flooring underneath your tile.
Scrape off the mortar with a chisel. Put the edge of your chisel against the mortar that was underneath your tiles. Apply a firm amount of pressure to your chisel to lift the mortar off of your floor. Hit the end of your chisel with a hammer if you cannot lift up the mortar by yourself. Make sure to remove all the mortar so the surface is smooth. That way, you can easily lay another type of flooring or wall coating on top of it.