Help needed for bathroom wall tile replacement project

ericsfoSeptember 24, 2012

Hi. Was wondering whether I could get some advice from folks here who are familiar with bathroom renovations.

We just bought a 10-year-old condo a couple of weeks ago and decided to attempt to replace the wall tiles in the bathtub area for cosmetic reasons. After watching a couple of youtube videos, it seemed like it would be very straightforward diy project. However, it was more difficult than we thought it would be.

The tiles were really difficult to remove. After 3.5 hours of pounding away with hammer and chisel, we only managed to remove about a quarter of the tiles. We also managed to poke a couple of holes in the drywall (probably 2-inch diameter holes). My arms are tired and I'm ready to call in professionals.

Does anyone think we should continue on? Are there tricks to removing tiles that we should know about? Do we really need to preserve the drywall or should we just cut out the drywall, which would obviously make removing the tiles much simpler? If we called in a contractor, would they typically just remove the entire wall or try to remove, resurface, and reuse the existing wall?

Thanks! Any suggestions/comments would be appreciated!

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Thought I uploaded a picture yesterday but looks like I forgot.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 10:39AM
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Heavens no, don't save the drywall. Is that why it's taking so long, because you're gingerly prying them off?

Also, it looks like behind the tile is greenboard (a form of drywall), and that's not the proper backing anyway. You want cement board. So go to work with much more force, cut out the greenboard, and then screw 1/2" cement board into the studs in its place.

Hang in there, you can do it!

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 6:03PM
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Yes, we wanted to save the drywall since it seems like it could've been a fairly easy diy project to remove old tiles and retile. I guess it was optimistic thinking on our part.

If we were to remove the walls, I assume we'd have to pull out the tub as well, remove walls on all 3 sides of the tub, replace with concrete board, retile and recaulk everything?

If we were to hire a contractor to do the work, any ideas how much they would charge for labor?


    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 2:17AM
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First, I am a DIYer so take this advice for what it is worth.

1- if you do succeed in removing all those tiles and reapply them to that greenboard, in a couple of years they will all fall off again anyway. I had that in a condo we were renting in the city a few years ago and as soon as the smallest bit of water gets through your grout (and it will) that board will rot away quickly, the tiles will pop off one by one, and the entire project will need to be done again.

2- if you call in a professional now, they will not apply to that greenboard either (not if they are reputable anyway) and will charge you for ripping it out and installing cement board.

Even if some DIY people would apply tile to green board, the green board has now been compromised by you removing the tile. Green board is only coated drywall. The green coating is a waxy coating that is supposed to keep it water resistant. If you look at it, do you think it is going to be water resistant now?

If I were you I would cut or score around where the tile currently is and was and remove the green board and tile. I would go buy cement board and screw it to the studs. It goes up just as easy as drywall, you patch it like drywall, and then you have a nice EVEN (your tile is not going to lay nice on that current surface), clean surface that is waterproof to go ahead and install your new tile on. And you are not going to have to worry about having to re-do it in a few years. I promise the extra time spent will be well worth it down the road.

It is up to you whether or not you want to call someone in or not. You should know that it will be more than the professional simply laying tile though, he will be charging you for re-doing the backing also.

Best of luck,

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 10:37AM
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Generally the drywall/cement board starts on top of the tub. No need to remove tub at all unless you want to change it out.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 11:32AM
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You could x-post on the bathroom forum too.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 8:55PM
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Most definitely remove the tile and the existing drywall. No need to remove the tub or to try to remove any drywall that is behind the tub; between the tub and the wall.

Once you get down to the studs the better way would be what has been mentioned. Adding a 1/2" thick cement board like Durock or wonderboard, and then "painting on" a topical membrane like Hydroban on the cement board. Then tile right on the membrane.

Anyhow, that's a start. Come back with additional questions, someone here will help.

Your main concern with that route is how well the bottom edge of the cement board, or the thickness of the cement board, marches up with the thickness of the flange on the tub. You'd want the face of the cement board to be in plane, or stand slightly proud of, the face of the tub's flange. Then the tile can overhang the flange without the thickness of the flange interfering with the tile, or "pushing the tile out".

Sort of like this drawing. Just think of the Hydroban being where the Kerdi is in the drawing:

If your tub's flange is thicker than the cement board, then you can pad out the cement board by adding furring strips to the faces of the studs. This drawing shows furring strips in place, but it's not drawn specifically for your situation. The intent of the drawing is to simply show the furring strips between the cement board and the wall studs:

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 1:56PM
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There's actually a lot involved in doing this small job properly. Even guys who call themselves "experienced" (yet without proper background) do tilework and/or prepwork that causes failure prematurely (cracks, leaks, etc.) or little things to make it look unprofessional.

If you wish to proceed, I would suggest some detailed reading on the john bridge tile forums. After reading there, you will learn more about how to proceed or find someone that really knows how to do it properly. They can walk you through it in great detail, also.

BTW, a "loose" ballpark figure might be around $1200 and up to rip it out and redo it. (Replacing fixtures add cost.) A lot depends on the little details like transitions, adding shampoo nooks, corner shelves, tile & grout size, etc.

Finally, as you continue to demo, I suggest cutting a piece of plywood nice and tight to protect the tub....and take off the trim for your fixtures and store it in a safe place. Also, try to cut the drywall cleanly at the outer borders before continuing.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 12:09PM
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