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Unread 07-13-2006, 08:55 AM   #1
CWB
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Question Install over old tile or remove tile (& bed) first?

Thanks for all the help so far! I ran accross this forum and it has been extremely valuable in planning my project (12 x 12 slate on 35 square feet of bathroom floor). Yes, I know that slate is hard to clean, etc... but my wife likes it so that is what is going down.

Anyway, I pulled the two layers of linoleum and found an original tile floor from 1947. This baby-blue-and-pink pattern is so ugly (and cracked in places) that I understand why it was covered, and once I started demolition I realized why it was never replaced! The tile is tightly bonded to a 3+" concrete base on tar paper, and I'm starting to think that it might be easier to remove the whole base rather than continue to try and work on the tile. The small amount of removel I have done has left damaged concrete below.

So finally to my question: Should I (1) tile on top of the existing tile floor which will raise the floor quite a bit, (2) chip away at the tile and add a leveling coat over the remaining concrete, or (3) pull up the whole tar paper & mesh slab and start with a clean subfloor?

A few notes:
  • This is the only bathroom in the house so I would like to minimize the downtime.
  • I've removed an original built-in cabinet which was NOT on the slab, so I have access to the edge of the slab and tile.

I really would appreciate any guidance you can provide as this is my first attempt and I am constantly running into things I did not expect.
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Unread 07-13-2006, 09:00 AM   #2
bbcamp
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We like to save the old mud beds where ever possible, but the condition of your bed is in question. Do the cracks in the tile go into the mudbed?

Rent an electric demo hammer and a 3" wide bit. That wil take the tiles off pretty quickly. If you decide to remove the mud bed, the demo hammer wil help there, too.
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Unread 07-13-2006, 10:01 AM   #3
CWB
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I agree that it would be best to avoid the massive demolition of the mud bed. I have only removed a few tiles from the exposed edge in order to determine how easily they come off (not easy, by the way). I did this bymallet and chisel, bit I had planned on going to The Home Depot and renting a electric demo hammer as you suggested. I have done this once before to demo a solid concrete step, so at least I am not afraid of the tool!

Anyway, the few removed tiles are nowhere near the cracks so I do not know how far they propogate. I can tell you that there are two main cracks that run accross the majority of the width of the floor (approx. 4' x 8' space). One of them comes from the corner of the shower surround and propogates primarily along a grout line so it is mostly hidden. The other crack runs from the wall behind the toilet, under the base of the toilet, then accross at an angle to the bath tub. I can also see a little "slope" towards the cracks. I have to assume from all this that the concrete bed has settled like the rest of the house (California earthquake country). I am not surprised that 3" of concrete laid on a raised wood subfloor has cracked given the condition of my garage slab!

So, if I remove the tiles and find that there are a couple of cracks in the bed, do I have to remove the whole thing, or can I just use a (necessary?) leveling layer to "glue" the cracks back together?

If I do have to remove the bed... given that the built-in cabinet was not on the bed, is it likely that it extends under the shower and tub as well? I am NOT planning on demolishing any of that, just the exposed floor, so that could be a problem.
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Unread 07-13-2006, 10:45 AM   #4
bbcamp
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Get the tiles off the surface, then scrape it as flat as you can. Use an antifracture membrane over the entire floor area, then set your tiles on that. Use a color matched caulk in the grout lines over the cracked areas.

Or, pull the entire mud bed out, using your demo hammer to slice the med at the shower curb.
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Unread 07-13-2006, 12:50 PM   #5
CWB
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Sounds like a plan. I will go ahead and get the power hammer with 3" chisel tip and get to work. With any luck I will not end up digging too deep into the cement under the tile. I will also have to be very careful at the walls where the "baseboard" tile meets the floor. The wall & baseboard tile was put down many years later, and it looks like it is not well bonded to the floor tiles (perhaps grout only). I will take my time and try to remove the grout and pre-shatter those floor tiles by hand so large pieces do not come up and chip the walls.

By the way, you guys are great about replying quickly! It will be extremely helpful to be able to work with you real-time on this project. Just so I am prepared...
  • If I end up uncovering significant fractures in the bed under the tile, will I need to dig and replace the entire bed or can it be "patched" if I feel that the movement is old settling?
  • How can I tell if a crack is bad enough to need replacement or patching?
  • If the power hammer leaves large gouges and chunks in the floor, do I need to use a "filler coat" of concrete before the antifracture membrane, or will that material be sufficient for the job?
  • The worst case scenario is that I have to dig out the bed in the area a want to tile. If that happens and I intend to build back up the 3", what is the best method? (I have heard about issues with successive layers of wood.)

Thanks again for advice! I found your bulletin board in a desperate Google search for help, and learned quite a bit from other posts in the forum before posting my question. I hope this string helps others in their endeavors.
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Unread 07-13-2006, 01:46 PM   #6
bbcamp
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I don't think you can or should patch cracked mud beds, but that's just me. The antifracture membrane idea allows for the cracks to still be there, but the tile would be isolated from the movement.

A crack that goes clean through the med and allows visible movement between one side and the other would warrent a tear out. A crack with no visible movement (i.e from a person walking from one side to the other), could be membraned. This is not a national standard, just my opinion.

Fill dings and gouges with thinset.

Best method would be to place a new mud bed.
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