How to Remove Thinset

If you think it is easy to remove tiles or floorings and install the new tiles on the surface then you have never really done the task. People who have renovated their home will know the struggle behind getting rid of the thinset. Thinset is cement based adhesive material, which is used to set the tiles and floorings in their place.

During the renovating process, when some tiles are removed, you are left with a surface, which has the stubborn thinset stuck on it, and it is not a good idea to set new tiles on a surface which has thinset. Therefore, you need to remove the thinset before applying new tiles on the surface. It is not an easy task to remove thinset from a surface.

Removing thinset from concrete is a crucial preparatory step when applying an epoxy coating to your garage floor. It must be done correctly to ensure a smooth, even surface that allows for proper epoxy adhesion. Failing to remove thinset adequately can lead to an uneven finish, compromising the durability and appearance of your epoxy-coated floor, making precision in this process essential for a long-lasting, high-quality result.

Do not worry, after reading this article, you will get to know about a few easy ways to remove thinset from floorings or plywood. Before going to the ways on how to remove thinset, we must advise you to take proper safety cautions as some of the methods mentioned below require using sharp tools and pointed materials. Wear protective gears before using any sharp tool and keep a first aid kit handy just to be on a safe side.

What Things Are Required To Remove Thinset?

Given below is a list of the things you will need to remove hard thinset from a surface.

  1. Dust masks
  2. Eye protection goggles
  3. A hammer
  4. A chisel
  5. A floor scraper
  6. A grinder
  7. Sandpaper
  8. Scraper blades
  9. A broomstick
  10. A dustpan
  11. Hot water
  12. Putty knife
  13. Chemical mastic remover

This list is not exhaustive as we assume that you have other basic tools, which we usually use at our home.

You may want to read more: How to Choose the Right Flashlight for Home Use

4 Easy Ways on How To Remove Thinset

These are some of the most effective and easy ways to remove thinset from flooring and plywood.

1. Using Hammers And Chisel

Removing thinset by using a hammer and chisel is the easiest way to get rid of it, but it is a dusty task. So wear dusk masks and eye protection goggles to protect yourself from the fine pieces of thinset. Also, cover the things around the flooring with plastic so that the dust does not settle on them.

Now, tap with a hammer to break loose the bond between the thinset and the flooring. Make sure that you are not tapping too hard to damage the flooring. Keep tapping for around 20 to 30 seconds and you will notice that thinset has started breaking away from the flooring slowly.

Tap a few more times and thinset will disengage itself. Now, use a chisel to bring out the remaining thinset. Keep chisel at 45 degrees and apply pressure on it to pull out the remnant layer of the thinset. Keep on repeating this process until you peel off the entire layer of the thinset.

2. Using A Floor Buffer

Floor buffer is a machine which has a diamond disc cutter which is used to cut hard substances. A good quality floor buffer will cost you around $500 to $700 but the price is worth it. You can also rent the machine if it is available for rent around your home. It is advised that you should use a floor buffer carefully as the blade used in the machine is too sharp and can cause serious injuries.

You can also seek professional help if you don’t know how to operate the machine. You can go for wet grinding or dry grinding. Grinding will lead to a thick cloud of dust around the area of grinding, therefore, use dust masks to save yourself from fine particles. We admit that it is a time-consuming way to remove thinset, but you will get smooth flooring after the hard work.

After you are done with grinding, you will have to clean the things around as dust would settle on everything around the grinding area. You can use broomstick and dustpan to clean up the mess.

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3. Using Hot Water

Soaking the thinset in hot water will produce cracks in it within 40 to 60 minutes of pouring the hot water on it. Ensure that the water is hot enough to crack the thinset and handle the hot water with utmost so as not to injure yourself.

For a more promising effect, you can add vinegar or citrus degreaser as it will help in pacing up the process. After the cracks have appeared on the thinset, use chisels or a floor scraper to get rid of the thinset.

4. Using A Chemical Mastic Remover

You can buy a chemical mastic remover from any online hardware store of physical shops. It will cost you around 100$ for a bucket which measures 5 gallons of chemical mastic remover. Prefer a mastic remover having citric or acetic acid rather than the other mastic removers as they are quite safe.

If you are going to remove thinset from wooden plywood, then prefer the products which are good to go with wooden material otherwise it can cause damage to the wooden material. After using a chemical mastic remover, you can scrape off the remaining thinset using a putty knife or floor scrapper.


It is recommended that after removing the thinset, dispose it off as hazardous waste because it can cause environmental harm. Removing thinset is important because before installing flooring the surface must be clean and without any bumps. We hope that the methods which are given in the article will help you in removing thinset easily. If you have any method other than the methods mentioned above, you can write about it in the comments section. In case, if you are facing any difficulty while using any method, then you can contact us and we will be more than happy to help you.


  1. Removing tiles quickly is easy, but as you say, ensuring the surface below is perfect and ready for your new flooring option is another story altogether!


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