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How to Remove Glass Tile Safely

Glass tile can add elegance to any space. New glass tile, that is. If the backsplash in your kitchen or bathroom is outdated, it may be time for a makeover. With the right tools, a little planning, and general safety precaution, you can remove your old glass backsplash yourself to prepare for new tile.

Put Your Safety First

One of the most important things to remember when removing glass tiles is to consider your safety. Flying glass shards can pose a threat to your eyes and skin, so it's vital to wear protective gear. Stock up on eyewear, sturdy gloves, and a dust mask before you get started.

Next, safeguard any surfaces close to the tile you're removing with towels or blankets. This includes covering your counter, floor, and appliances. A flying piece of glass can ding a stainless-steel refrigerator or scratch a bamboo floor quicker than you'll have time to react, so putting in a little extra time on the front end will be worth your while.

Use Limited Force

The two essential tools you'll need to remove glass tile are a hammer and a flathead screwdriver. You can pick them up at your local hardware store if you don't already have them lying around. When you have your tools ready and your gear on, you can get started on the removal process. Follow these steps:

  • Position the tip of your flathead screwdriver in the grouted area between two tiles.
  • Aggressively tap your screwdriver with your hammer until you begin to feel the grout give way.
  • Position the screwdriver tip on the back of one of the tiles at a 45-degree angle, and gently tap it with the hammer.

The key to removing the tile efficiently is to make sure you exert the right amount of force during each task. Hitting your hammer too hard when you pry the tiles loose can damage your drywall or cause glass to shatter. Taking your time will pay off in the end.

Clean Up Properly

There's nothing worse than thinking your job site is cleaned up, only to step on a piece of glass the next day. Cleaning up the bigger pieces of glass you can see is the easy part, so start with those. Make sure to protect yourself with shoes and rubber gloves. To ensure a comprehensive cleanup, use a heavy-duty vacuum on all nearby areas and surfaces to pick up any tiny pieces of glass.

When the time comes to dispose of your glass tiles, check in with your municipality or local trash service to see if glass recycling is offered. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, only 28 percent of glass waste is recycled by Americans, so you can really do your part to help the environment while you spruce up your space.

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