What's involved in taking down newly installed tile?

tartanhabitSeptember 7, 2012

Oh that sinking feeling. Our tile is up; it's a tile that we've used in another bathroom and loved. It's a white tile, or at least was meant to be but it has more of a subtle yellow warmth in this batch this time round than we were looking for. It's subtle but we are not loving it and it doesn't quite work the way we intended it to with the rest of our choices.

What's involved in taking down newly installed tile? Will the tub get wrecked? Will the walls behind get wrecked? What will need to be redone? It has been grouted.

Agh. Need to know the consequences of our decision before making such a decision.


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The tub can be protected with tape on the rails and a blanket on the tub itself. The walls, on the other hand are a different story. If the tile was put up properly, the cement board won't survive.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 10:14AM
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Thanks Bill, I had a feeling that would be the case.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 11:46AM
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Just want to say that I sympathize. Our statuario is yellow and ugly. I hate it, but replacing it isuch more labor and cost extensive than we are willing to put up with. It's so frustrating.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 12:43PM
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Sorry to hear you're in the same boat threeapples. We loved the tile we used in one bathroom so much that we picked it for another bathroom. Clean and modern look, that's what we were going for. And looking at the tiles individually as they were being installed, the yellow didn't seem to register. Then they grouted and the white of the grout (same choice as last time too) suddenly popped so white and made the tiles look yellow. I am heartbroken. My contractor said it would need to be a demo job but I will talk with him more on Monday.

Also having the bath unveiled from the blanket that has been protecting it made the contrast more shocking.

I don't know whether to just bit the bullet, shell out more $$, etc or adjust my expectations. I'm a picky perfectionist so that last option is pretty tricky. And my husband just went on a business trip for a week and I'm left dealing with it all!

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 9:23PM
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Think really hard, and learn to love it.

Just alter your choices of other materials in there, and ponder also what sort of light you're viewing it under. Maybe you're not seeing it properly.

When finished, a different lighting colour temperature will make a big difference - eg daylight bulbs.

Otherwise, go for it, but it's going to cost and take a lot.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 2:53PM
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Could you color the grout so it's not so white? Maybe it will lessen the contrast and you won't notice the yellowness as much. I would think paint color could also affect the tone of the tile, via contrast and reflection, so maybe that would be easier to adjust than taking off the tile.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 11:57AM
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Would this also be the case if only the lowest row of 12x12" ceramic tiles around an alcove tub was removed (to change either to another tub or a shower)? Would it just rip up the Hardiebacker up to the next row of tiles, which could be replaced with new tileboard, or would the whole wall need to be retiled? I have lots of extra tiles of the same type already on the walls.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 10:46AM
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lee, it depends.

If it it tile over gysum core board, the gypsum board will likely be wrecked. Which is fine. lol

If it's over cement board, it depends on the strength of the bond between the tile and the backer board.

If it's over a floated mud wall, you can usually pop the tiles off and then just make repairs to the divots in the mud.

Every case is different.

Lastly, it depends on the type of waterproofing or drainage plane you have in your shower.

If you have 6-mil poly behind the backer board, that will usually remain intact. In that case, you can repair or piece in new backer board as needed, then retile.

If you had a topical membrane, then you'd want to try to maintain your existing backer board, and the membrane can be recoated.

My preferred way to remove existing tile with minimal damage to the backer board is to chuck a diamond wheel in a grinder.

I first cut out the grout around the perimeter of the tiles that I want to remove.

I then cut out the grout around a tile in the middle of the wall.

Next, it depends on the size of the tile, but I'll usually cut an "X", or on larger tile, a # pattern through the depth of the middle tile.

I then use a chisel at a low angle and cleave the tile sections off the backer board.

If the tile has a weak bond with the backer board, you might b able to pop the remaining whole tiles right off the backer board without damaging the board.

If the tiles take the backer board with them, then you might have to section the remaining tiles with the X or # pattern. The smaller the pieces you section the tile in to, the less damage you'll do to the backer board. It's easier to pop off small pieces than large pieces.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 11:14AM
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All I know at the moment is that the tile was attached using mastic (not thinset which I would have preferred - I fear mold/mildew problems if there isn't airflow behind those 12" tiles), and that's it's mounted on some sort of Hardiebacker, which is mounted to the studs I think. I'll have to dig up some pictures of the work when it was in progress.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 12:45PM
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Mastic can make things easier. You can sometimes pry them off the backer board with a thin drywall knife wedged in behind the tile.

Or nowadays, you can use an oscillating multi tool with a thin scraping blade. Once you get the first tile off, cut between the tile and the backerboard.

Easy peasy, except for the hard part. ; )

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 6:33PM
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