Removing Tile - Help! [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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07-08-2001, 08:39 AM
Help! My wife and I recently bought a house built in 1985 that had some horrendous-looking tile throughout the foyer. Never afraid of a challenge, we hastily decided to tear the stuff up. Now, six weeks later, after spending countless hours on my rear end with a hammer and chisel in hand, all of the tile is up, but there is a ton of the setting material - mortar, I guess - remaining on the floor. I am exhausted after using a heavy-duty scraper (the kind with the 5 ft. handle and carbide blade) for the past week to get about 16 sq. ft. cleaned down to the slab. There is still a ton to go.

There's got to be a better way to do this! Is there any easier way (other than a jackhammer) to remove this stuff? Is there any way I could just float something on top of the remaining mortar and start from scratch? Please help - I'm at my wit's end.


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Rob Z
07-08-2001, 09:40 AM
Hi Raider

Thanks for stopping by. Assuming what is left is thinset on a concrete slab, you could:

1. rent a pnuematic tool that is made to knock off floor covering residue.
2. rent a bush hammer and remove the thinset ( a bush hammer is a bit that looks like a meat tenderizer that goes in an electric demolition hammer).
3. use a product like ARDEX feather finish and skim over the existing rough surface.
4. use a self levelling compound.


5. float a thin mortar bed over the existing surface, bonded with thinset.

Numbers 1 and 2 are fairly easy and quick, although noisy and dusty. Number 3 is fairly quick, but the feather finish compounds can get expensive and require decent troweling skills. Number 4 is very quick, expensive, and I have found that SLC's require absolute attention to the instructions to get a good pour.

For number 5, look at John's book to see if it is something that you want to tackle.

Don't spend any more time with the hammer and chisel-that takes all the fun out of it. Let us know which option you think is best for you, and we will spend some more time talking about it.


07-08-2001, 09:51 AM
Thanks for the prompt reply.

Where could I rent a pneumatic tool or a bush hammer? Those seem to be the options I'm leaning towards.

Thanks again.

Rob Z
07-08-2001, 09:55 AM
Any large tool rental store should have what you need. Explain to them what you need to do and let them guide you to the right tool.

Tape up plastic and wear a good dust mask and eye protection. There will probbly be a lot of dust.

Let us know how it goes.


John Bridge
07-08-2001, 09:59 AM
Rob has been pretty thorough. I would add option 6. Just knock the high spots off the thinset and use a little extra when you install the new tiles. That's assuming you're going to install ceramic tiles or stone. If not, revert to options 1 through 5 :-)

07-08-2001, 10:56 AM
A large "rub-brick" works extremely well and will remove virtually all the old thinset fairly quickly.It requires a little crawling around but is so fast it's really worth the effort.A large foyer,say 150sq.ft., should take about an hour to clean up using the rub-brick.They're available at HomeDepot,Lowes and some tile stores.

07-08-2001, 04:34 PM
All done! I went down to the hardware store, and they had an electric floor stripper for rent. I brought the thing home and had everything up in a matter of hours. Now I just have to clean up my mess!

Thanks to everyone for their help!