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How to Remove Backer Board From a Wood Floor

Kimberly Johnson

Backer board is often made of cement or gypsum and looks similar to drywall. It is installed on a wall or a wood floor before installing ceramic tile. In the case of floors, the backer board creates a smooth, even surface so that the floor tiles lay flat. In addition, backer board protects the wood floor from damage if the homeowner decides to remove the tile. Removing backer board from a wood floor is a basic process, but often is strenuous.

  1. Move to the edge of the floor where the backer board meets another type of flooring, such as in a doorway.

  2. Place the blade of a putty knife on top of a grout line next to one of the tiles. Hit the putty knife handle with a hammer to chip out the grout on all sides of the tile.

  3. Insert the blade of the putty knife under the exposed edge of the tile near the doorway. Tap the handle with a hammer to pry the tile off the backer board. Continue until you can see at least an 8-inch area of backer board.

  4. Hit the backer board with a hammer to break it up. Scoop up the broken pieces with your hands and place them in a trash can.

  5. Insert a flat-edged garden spade under the chipped-out section of backer board, between the wood floor and the backer board. Push in on the handle with firm force until the blade is 6 inches under the backer board.

  6. Lean back on the shovel handle to pry the backer board up from the floor. Move the shovel to the left or right until you encounter resistance. Lean back on the handle again to pry up that section of backer board. Continue until the raised section of backer board is too large for the shovel to fit under. Hit the section with a hammer to break it up.

  7. Place the shovel back under the edge of the backer board that is still attached to the wood floor. Continue the prying and breaking process until all of the backer board is removed.

  8. Walk around the wood floor. Pry up any nails that remain in the floor, using the back of the hammer.

  9. Sweep the floor with a push broom to remove all broken pieces of tile and backer board. Place all debris in a trash can for disposal.