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Unread 12-30-2008, 10:44 AM   #1
apanda2
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Messy Thinset job - need cleanup help

Hello all

I love this site as I have picked up lots of great information for our bathroom remodel by reading other posts. I have an enormous amout of respect for all those tilers out there after doing battle with our tiling job. Nothing is ever as easy as it seems and you guys do this every day and make it look and sound easy. As first time renovators and tilers my husband and I have learned the hard way - making mistakes and then having to fix them when a pro wouldn't make them in the first place. Anyway now we have another mistake to fix as we weren't as clean in our thinsetting job as we needed to be.

I have not found anything in other threads about how to clean dried thinset from the front of tile or pebble and need help as we have just about finished tiling our bathroom walls and have noticed places where thinset had oozed between tiles and up onto the surface of the tile around some spacers. WE had dug out the excess thinset in the gout lines as we tiled but didn't do it neatly enough. In places some of thinset has dropped/splashed onto lower tiles as we tiled and we didn't notice it thinking it landed on our cardboard floor protector in other places we wiped it off but obviously didn't do a good enough job as now it is dry it is visible on the front of tiles and pebbles.

Anyway it is now rock hard and we will need to grout soon.

Does anyone have any suggestions for the best way to clean the thinset from the front of the glazed porcelain tile - and river rock pebbles without damaging the tile or more importantly the pebbles - as they seem to be much more porous. The porcelain is only an issue where is was custom bullnosed and doesn't have the factory glaze.

My husband suggested muriatic acid - but we don't know where to find it and he is not sure it will not dissolve the white pebbles- or pit them.

Any suggestions would be welcome.

Also any suggestions for how to clean off the grout between the pebbles when we do grout them?

Thanks for your help.
Anda
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Unread 12-30-2008, 10:51 AM   #2
bbcamp
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You can probably scrape the thinset off the glazed surfaces with a razor blade. I'd dilute the muratic acid with water, and try it on a spare pebble before using it on the entire surface. Better yet, use white vinegar full strength. It is an acid, but is fairly safe for both you and your tile. Use ammonia and water to neutralize the area after you are through.

You're gonna wish you got started sooner...
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Unread 12-30-2008, 10:58 AM   #3
themaniac
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muriatic acid

muriatic acid is nothing more than a fairly concentrated hydrochloric acid solution....typically in the 30% range. your bigbox store probably carries it. it is very corrosive...so read all of the warnings. I've used it for cleaning up thinset....but not from porcelain Some of the less corrosive grout cleaners, which usually are sulfamic acid based...should also work, with a little elbow grease. And you could even try vinegar (dilute acetic acid). I'd look at muriatic as the last choice. If you have an extra tile and extra pebbles...try whatever you use on that first, so you can make sure it doesn't do any damage. Good luck
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Unread 12-30-2008, 01:40 PM   #4
apanda2
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Lightbulb

Thanks for the information. See I was right - lots of knowledge out there. I would never have thought of using vinegar ! I'll try that first and work my way up to the strong stuff. Will teat it out on some remants of pebble and tile first, hopefully the pebbles won't just fizz and dissolve like one of those antacid tablet in water.

Looks like several hours of cleanup and elbow grease. Live and learn, it never pays to not be careful in the first place.

Thanks also for the quick response - I will see what I can do before hubby gets home tonight.
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Unread 12-30-2008, 01:42 PM   #5
apanda2
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Woops - should read before posting - not "teat" but "try it out"
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Unread 12-30-2008, 01:56 PM   #6
bbcamp
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Anda, you can go back and edit your own posts. I do it all the time, but I still let typos get through.

Yep, live and learn, die and forget it all...
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Unread 12-30-2008, 05:09 PM   #7
martgreg
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What color are the tiles and thinnset

i had a similar problem with greyish tiles and grey thinset...

but to make things easier to see if you use a damp sponge all the thin set will become easier to see and it will help keep the dust down...

good luck
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Unread 12-30-2008, 06:02 PM   #8
jondon
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Talking cleaning mortar off tiles

Hello Anda,

If you didn't teat it out yet, I have something else for you to try! Phosphoric Acid Cleaner by Aqua Mix, I know the big box stores don't have Aqua Mix though but great product for mortar off tile and removing cured grout off tiles too. Muriatic Acid is very strong and I see in previous posts you need to dilute it, catch a whiff of that stuff full strength and you lose your nose hairs! Not very user friendly, this stuff by Aqua Mix is great for what your needs are if you can find it. As for digging out dry cement out of joints there is no easy fix for that, just be careful as to not damage your tile with whatever your digging with. Good Luck, we've all been there! Jon
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Unread 12-31-2008, 06:34 AM   #9
merkretetyler
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apanda2,

I would not recommend the use of Muritic acid in your house. Just the fumes from it's use can pit stainless steel in the area.

I like your thoughts on starting a safe as possible, vinegar, etc. Seriously look into the only ANSI approved acidic cleaner for tile; Sulfamic acid. It should be available in most hardware stores. It is granular, so transportation is easy and safe. Still test the pebbles, leaving the acid on them as long as you would in a clean up situation. Make sure you soak the grouts joints first with just water, so the acid can not absorb into the joint and it will stay topical. After you are satisfied with the clean up, rinse everything with water real well, neutralizing the acid.

I believe I saw you were in the Denver area, consider calling one of the "Tile for Less" locations and ask for Mer-Krete's ProClean SA if you can't find it at your local hardware store.
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