My husband and I are updating our kitchen. I would like to reuse blue tiles from the original backsplash -- they are unique. Once they are off the wall -- is there a trick to removing the thinset stuck on the back of each tile?
Have you actually gotten off the wall without breaking them?
Ask at the John Bridge tile forum for the best way to remove and clean them.
Many experts there that actually do tile work for a living.
Even if you get them off the wall intact, chances are that they will have thin set or mastic fused into them in the back. To re-use them and to do a perfect job, all this junk has to be removed, and are you willing to do that, even if you knew how to do it?
Get new tiles.
You may be able to remove the mastic from the back, but don't count on it and don't count on having very many unbroken tile by the time you're finished. While it's admirable that you want to save and reuse, it just may not work out as you expect.
Having said that, all is not lost. Take a salvaged tile to a few specialty tile shops and see what they have that is a close approximation. While you may not find an exact match, what you're looking to do is bring the concept forward into your kitchen renovation.
I'd make some sort of shallow jig to hold the tiles, then using a right angle grinder outfitted with a diamond cup wheel , clean off the back sides.
If you want to keep them for decorative purposes, rather than utilitarian use, you might consider putting a few in a shadow box or frame. Or make a trivet.