Home>Discussions>BATHROOMS>Removing tile without damaging original tile beneath
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cdale
Removing tile without damaging original tile beneath

Hi everyone,

Let me start by saying I have no idea what I'm doing, so please be patient. I purchased my first house last summer, a 1938 Spanish eclectic bungalow. Yesterday, I removed a vanity in my (only) small bathroom to find some vintage green and black tile hiding underneath a layer of DIY 80's tile. Of course, I couldn't help but begin ripping out the 80's tile.

The tile is coming up fairly easy, but it's stuck to a layer of cement (thin set?) that is a pain. Underneath that, there appears to be some sort of cloth padding that is glued onto the tile with a gray gummy adhesive.

So far, I've been using a hammer and a small chisel sc****r, but it's VERY slow going. Especially the gummy stuff+fabric+cement stuff. Is there a tool I'm missing? Or a solvent product? Is this something better left to a pro? Any ideas what it would cost to hire someone to remove this stuff?

Thanks!
Crystal

dj1
Re: Removing tile without damaging original tile beneath

With thick and hard thinset, I run my saw with a masonry blade randomly back and forth and then use a masonry cold chisel to smooth it out. A lot of labor.

A. Spruce
Re: Removing tile without damaging original tile beneath
dj1 wrote:

With thick and hard thinset, I run my saw with a masonry blade randomly back and forth and then use a masonry cold chisel to smooth it out. A lot of labor.

Yes, but the OP wants to save the original tile under all the mess, in this instance this method isn't going to work. You are right about a lot of labor though. :cool:

Mastics from the 80's and 90's were solvent soluble. Try pouring a small amount of paint thinner in a small area and working it with a wooden paint stick. The wooden stick will give you something you can scr-ape at the hard stuff with without damaging the tiles underneath. You will likely need to let the paint thinner sit, as well as agitating and working it around. Don't be in too big a hurry to wipe it off, the thicker the mastic, the longer it will take to soften and get it off. Your only other alternative, really, is total demolition and replacement of the floor or covering it up with something new.

Mastercarpentry
Re: Removing tile without damaging original tile beneath

There was a reason the old tile became hidden with new, and it very well could have been because it was too badly damaged to be repaired. Or maybe they got sick of the color and the tile underneath is good- but do you really want to invest that much time into it, knowing that there is a good chance that you may get 90% done and then find the unrepairable damage?

I'm all for saving materials and restoring things right up to the point where it becomes impractical or too risky. A whole-job gut and retile is a known quantity and I'm sure you can find tiles you'll like to do it with. Besides, today's waterproofing and tile substrates are light years ahead of what was common 10-15 years ago and that alone makes it worthwhile to me.

Phil

cdale
Re: Removing tile without damaging original tile beneath

I'm about half way through, and no damage so far. I'll keep my fingers crossed for the rest. It's 1930's green and black, so that could very likely be the reason the previous owner covered it up with 80's fake marble tile.

Unfortunately, a total gut and re-tile is out of my budget for now. The original tiles are cemented in, and the walls are lath and plaster, so I think just demo-ing the original tile will be a HUGE expense. I'm also a teacher home on summer break so I have the time to sit and chisel away :)

Thanks for the tip, ASpruce, I'll try some paint thinner.

A. Spruce
Re: Removing tile without damaging original tile beneath
cdale wrote:

I'm about half way through, and no damage so far. I'll keep my fingers crossed for the rest. It's 1930's green and black, so that could very likely be the reason the previous owner covered it up with 80's fake marble tile.

The most likely areas for damage will be around the toilet and along the front of a shower/tub. If you don't find anything there, you might have smooth sailing.

cdale wrote:

Thanks for the tip, ASpruce, I'll try some paint thinner.

You are welcome, just be sure to ventilate the area well, the fumes are both flammable and overwhelming in quantity.

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