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Boinker 03-05-2006 11:16 AM

Partial shower tile wall removal
Hi folks, great site here especially for a newbie and fairly clueless DIY'r. My questions, after a half hour of searching, relate to a leaking standup shower pan. I have two questions one regarding the floor and one for the walls.

I have a leaking shower pan and have removed the tiles on the floor. No all I have on the floor is I guess the "mud" (bear with me as I do not know the terminology to well). I chipped away in one section about a half inch and there seems to be nothing. Could this "mud" be the pan or do I need to keep removing this mud to get to the pan?

Question #2 is regarding the tiles on the wall. I was able to break a piece of one of the wall tiles off and the tile appears to be secured to plaster (house was built in the mid 60's. My question is, is there a trick to removing wall tiles from plaster? I am afraid to get to violent with them as I started using a hammer and chisel but I do have a small compressor and air hammer. My plan was to take the first two or three rows of tile off, repair the shower pan and retile the three or so rows on the wall (as opposed to the whole shower). I do also have a dremmel tool and thought of using a small grinding wheel to cut away a row of the grout or more??

Thanks in advance for any tips, tricks or general info.

cx 03-05-2006 12:46 PM

Welcome, Boink. How about a first name for us to use? :)

What kind of floor is the shower built on? As in, wood-framed subfloor or concrete slab? In either case, you'll need to remove everything that constitutes the shower and start over, but we can better tell you what to look for if we know how it was built.

For removing the wall tiles, you definitely want to remove all the grout from the line where you intend to stop your demo. Otherwise you'll be chasing cracked tiles until you need to replace the whole wall.........which may not be a bad eye-dee anyway. :)

You say the walls are tiled over plaster? Could it be a Portland cement-type "mud" wall instead? Mid 60s may well be a good mud box.

Have you read the Shower Construction section of our worl-famous Liberry? That will give you some good insight into the way the shower was probably built and for sure what you need to build as a replacement for the pan.

Might need to go up more than three rows if you have 4" tiles. You'll need to be six inches or so above the top of the curb to do an adequate job of pan replacement.

Posting pichers of what you've got is helpful. We like pichers. :D

My opinion; worth price charged.

Boinker 03-05-2006 01:58 PM

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Thanks CG, sorry I always use that name for forums my name is Paul.

Hopefully from the attached picture you can see what I am tlaking about. The wall behind the small piece of tile I have removed is "a hard rock like substance" :rolleyes: as you can see I am not sure of the technical term but I do think it is plaster as it is sharper and rougher then I thought mud was. It also has more of a greyish or concrete tone or color to it. If you look above the tile you can see where I used the dremmel to remove the grout between two rows of tile.

So getting back to the original question about the tile removal is there a trick? Do I remove all the grout from all the tiles I need to remove? Do I just accept that some of the plaster behind the tiles is going to come off?

With regards to the floor, can you tell from the picture what I was talking about? I can not tell if this is the shower pan or if I should keep removing this sandy mud.


cx 03-05-2006 02:27 PM

Looks to me like all you've removed is the tile on the floor, Paul. Likely you've got about three more inches to go.

Again, you'll hit the real subfloor at some point, either wood or concrete slab.

You don't need to worry about tearing out some of the mud behind the part of the wall you're removing; its all gotta come out at that level.

Don't need to be too gentle around that curb, either. You'll need to replace all the top and inside as a minimum. Starting over on it is usually easier in my experience.

Again, look in the Liberry. Once you get a good handle on the correct method of pan construction, you'll have a better idea what you need to remove to be able to do that.

You will have wheelbarrows of material to haul out before you're ready to start any re-building. :shades:

My opinion; worth price charged.

Boinker 03-05-2006 02:54 PM

Thanks CX, so if I have inches to go on the floor (yes all I did remove is the tile) would it be ok to use an air hammer with a 1/2" chisel bit?

For the tile wall, are there any tricks, should I keep trying to remove all the grout? Is there a tool or technique to getting the tiles off the wall as they are REALLY stuck on there?

Thanks again for any advise and yes I have been visiting the library. Some great information in there!

cx 03-05-2006 04:22 PM

Yeah, I'd use a pneumatic chisel if I were you. 'Specially if you're on a slab, which is how it looks to me from your picher. But if you ain't gonna tell, you ain't gonna tell, I guess. :D

On the walls, I think I'd wanna cut that grout line about the third row where you have it. Cut it real well and try to remove that row of tiles with minimum damage to the wall. Then I'd cut the mud wall all the way to the studs at about the horizontal center of what had been that row of tile. Then I'd tear out everything below the cut, leaving a couple inches of the old wire lath hanging out if possible.

When you've built the pre-slope and installed the pan liner, you can mud the walls back flush with the existing. There's a bit more to it, but let's see what you end up with after the tear-out, eh?

My opinion; worth price charged.

Boinker 03-05-2006 04:35 PM


Originally Posted by cx
But if you ain't gonna tell, you ain't gonna tell, I guess. :D

Unfortunatly I cant tell only cause I dont know.... :bang: remember I'm not the DIY'r like most people here :bow:


Originally Posted by cx
Cut it real well and try to remove that row of tiles with minimum damage to the wall.

Now is there a way or some trick to removing these wall tiles with minimum damage? I tried the dremmel with grinding wheel to remove the grout then I used a hammer and chisel to remove that little piece you see. It was hard not to really mess up the wall, so if you have any tricks of the trade i would GREATLY appreciate it!

cx 03-05-2006 05:30 PM

No tricks here, Paul. Everybody takes'em off about the same. Some pieces will be smaller than others, but they'll all be in pieces. :(

My opinion; worth price charged.

jdm 03-05-2006 05:39 PM

Paul --

By slab, CX means is the entire floor of the house a slab of concrete sitting on grade, or is there a wood structure somewhere under that shower?

Boinker 03-05-2006 06:08 PM

Sorry JDM I didnt understand, I should have said from the begining that this stand up shower is on the second floor of the house. When I say I am not much of a DIT'r I REALLY mean it. Therefore re the slab, the whole house has a wood frame and wooden joists on a standard concrete foundation. I forgot the this John Bridge is based in Houston where many houses are on a slab. My house is a typical two story colonial in New England with a basement and walk up attick.

Does that make sense?

Mike2 03-06-2006 10:30 AM

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Don't worry none about damaging the tiles. They are all going to get broken up any way. You can do that the hard way with a hammer and cold chisel, or rent a tool like this.

kdzgon 03-06-2006 01:51 PM

I think you should just bite the bullet and decide to remove all the tile before going any further 'cause I'd say the odds are good you'll end up there, anyway, and it'll make the removal so much easier... :) IMO, the shower pan is the most work by far, tiling the walls is easy from there. Plus, you'll have a beautiful new shower rather than just a repaired one, with added bonuses of increased beauty (and likely value) and everyone will admire all your hard work rather than just the few that know about the repair!


(look out though, this DIY stuff can get you hooked!)

Boinker 03-06-2006 07:56 PM

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Mike how big is that chisel on the tool? I have a small 150 cfm air hammer (still have not broken it in yet :devil2: ) with a 3/4" chisel bit as well as a round point and another type of bit (not sure - as you can see in the pic) would these work as well?

Also, I am not sure if you can see in the picture but behind the tile is a string like mesh, then a concrete like grey plaster, then another layer of mesh that is on the wood (like all those technical terms). I had been trying to remove the tile from the grey plaster (am I trying to be to delicate?) but I think now I really want to remove the plaster from the wall. Is that correct?


jdm 03-07-2006 12:02 AM

It sounds like your tile is on a cement backerboard like WonderBoard or DuRock. They are composed of grey grainy concrete with a fiberglass mesh embedded in each surface. Is your "gray plaster" about 1/2" thick?

And I agree with Laurie. You're going to do a bit of work, and wind up with a well built shower that was obviously repaired. Not a lot of value there. But if you take out all the walls, you will be able to pick out new tile and wind up with a finished product that is worth all of the time and effort you invested.

Now go have some fun with that air chisel. (Don't foget your eye protection!)

Boinker 03-07-2006 08:29 AM

Thanks JDM, the width is about 3/4" from the stud to the front face of the tile. The house was built in the mid 60's and I am pretty sure this is original construction you are looking at. I guess I will go with the sledge hammer and air chisel tonight now that you all have helped me (why I ever thought the tile would come off the plaster is beyond me).

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