Replacing wall tiles in small bathroom

Celes33November 23, 2013

Hello. I finally decided to take down the ugly pink tiles in a small bathroom. Breaking down the tiles took off most of the wall. I was left with some cracked and brittle chunks of concrete, or plaster, not sure. Since my son and my brother took turns in taking down the wall, without being monitored, now there are about three deeper holes that go all the way to a wire mesh. I thought I should bring down the wall, but only half of the wall from the floor down needs to come off; the rest is drywall that is intact and in place. If I take down the lower half, there are no studs for me drill in a new backer-board for new tiles. I hope you can visualize this. I want to know if it is safe to just apply mud, thin-set, or something to cover the hole, patch and fill in the cracks, and then apply the new tiles and not breakdown the wall that would create more damage and dust. If I can apply some plaster or mud to fix the damaged wall, how will I ensure that the wall is nice and even to place the new tiles? If I choose to bring down the lower half of the wall, will the upper half stay safely intact since there are no studs? How did that original wall come up with no studs? Seems like the wire is strong enough to just hold concrete wall. I don't think so. However, I took off the mirror, and through the hole where the cabinet was, I could see there are studs, but they don't seem to come all the way down to the bottom half of the wall all the way to the floor. I thought I would be brave enough to do this project by myself...and I still need to tile the floors and install the toilet. I know I need a professional contractor here, but your opinion will be invaluable for now.

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Celes33-You could remove any loose concrete and use a rapid set patching mortar to seal it up. However, I would remove the lower part of the wall since it looks pretty bad. I would then install studs and backer board in order to mount the new tiles evenly. You probably won't see what needs to be done to install a stud frame until you remove what is there. Hope that helps.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2013 at 11:35AM
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Thanks, that is exactly what I am asking, ship4u. If I remove the lower half of the wall (the portion that shows in the picture) I will have a wire mesh. That current 'wall' is only an inch thick. If I break it down, I cannot put up studs, or can I? The bathroom is already small. Do I bring down the wire mesh (is that how you call it?). Sorry, every person, supposedly knowledgeable, that I bring over to consult, takes forever to make an appointment, then they do NOTHING. So I called Lowes for a contractor, and while I am waiting on someone, I would like to know what other options I have so as not to depend only on the expertise of those who come quoting me thousands of dollars. I know that if I put up studs I am going to lose space. I would like to know how that wall was constructed with no studs...Currently, there are studs only on one wall where the mirror hangs.

Thanks for your advice!

    Bookmark   November 24, 2013 at 3:00PM
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I've been in the remodeling business for over 30 years. If there are no studs in that wall, it will be the first time I've ever seen that happen.

You should try to patch first. It's cheap, easy, and may turn out fine. If not, you're not our much.

If I may be so bold, you sound like you're getting in over your head. Find a reputable contractor and get our your checkbook.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2013 at 4:47PM
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Not sure how I sound like I am getting in over my head, Trebuchet. I was just asking for advice, while I search online. I can't just find a reputable contractor, I first need to know what I am looking for. Thanks for your time.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2013 at 6:16PM
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I meant no offense, but when you claim to have a situation that I've never seen in 30 years, no studs in the wall, when you identify a plaster and lath wall as "drywall", worrying about a collapsing wall due to no studs, this is what makes you sound like you're getting in over your head. The nature of your questions is giving you away.

Contact www.homeadvisor and you will see the customer ratings of a tile or general contractor. It's a free service; you can't lose.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2013 at 8:05PM
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Hi Celes33. There are easy mix plaster patch products that would work for you. My concern is getting the rest of the old mastic (tile adhesive) off the wall and obtaining a flat and strong surface to install your new tiles. It can be done, but using backer board will make the job easier.

As Trebruchet says, it is hard to imagine what could be holding the wall in place without studs. Your wall looks to be plaster that was applied to a wire mesh. I'd lay dollars to donuts that there are studs behind the mesh and the mesh is nailed to the studs. You did say that you thought studs were on the top half of the wall.
If you remove the lower portion of the wall, you will see what you have to work with. I think you will find some studs. You may need to add more by framing them in to give your new backer board the proper strength. Please post when you find out more about what's behind the wall.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2013 at 7:21PM
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