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Old 12-29-2009, 10:42 AM   #1
JimmyH
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Replacing kitchen floor tile w/out removing cabinets

Hi Everyone!

I'm about to attempt my first tile project. I am replacing my 1/4" kitchen tiles (several cracked) and having granite countertops installed. Is there anyway to do this without removing the tile under the base cabinets? The flooring system is 3/4 T&G plywood with a 1/2 sanded plywood overlay (nailed every 2" square) then the 1/4 tile. I was thinking of removing the base shoe, finding some kind of a saw that will let me saw the tile close to the bottom of the cabinets and scraping the old tile out. Is this possible? What are the pitfalls? I really don't want to remove the cabinets. I have a 6' x 3' island in the middle. I can remove the frig and stove to go a few inches under them but the dishwasher might be more of a hassle.
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Old 12-29-2009, 11:42 AM   #2
RedRock
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Hi Jim, welcome to the forum.

You certainly have your work cut out for you. Its messy, tedious, and a PITA.

I did a flood restoration job about 2 years ago and did the exact same thing that you are wanting to do. This floor had 3/4 TG subfloor, with 1/2 particle board on top, then 1/4 inch hardiboard just screwed down and 13 inch tile on top. The water got under the hardiboard and swelled the particle board causing the tile to crack and pop.

We started off by chiseling up the tile and the hardiboard with roofing shovels, chisels, and wrecking bars. Then cut the subflooring into 3x3 foot squares and pryed the sections up. We used a reciprocating saw to cut around the walls and cabinets. If I was to do it again, I would buy a toe kick saw to cut the subfloor. I didn't know that kind of saw existed or I would have bought one for the job. There is a pneumatic floor scraper also that is designed for chipping up tile. This tile did not have full coverage of thinset underneath so it came up pretty easy with hand tools. And since the hardi was not mudded down either, it also came up pretty easy.

After that we installed new T&G subflooring, ditra, and tile. There was a height difference from the old and new floors but the new baseboard covered it up and we used a shoe moulding around the cabinets.

Hope this helps. Good luck on your project.
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Old 12-29-2009, 12:02 PM   #3
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WoW - Thanks for the reply!! That does sound like a lot of work!! I was hoping to use the T&G subfloor AND the 1/2 plywood underlayment and only replace the 1/4" tile. Hopefully when I remove the 1/4" tile I will not wreck the 1/2" ply U/L and just sand the surface down..although I might be dreaming?
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Old 12-29-2009, 12:05 PM   #4
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Yep. If they did anything near like a good job when they installed the tile, your plywood will be compromised during tearout. And if they didn't, you don't want to install it back the same way.
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Old 12-29-2009, 12:22 PM   #5
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I have done 4 jobs like that this year. It is not easy or fun, but can be done. I usually put SEVERAL layers of wide masking tape on the toe kicks of the cabinets. (if you can remove them, then do so) also tape carboard on the faces of the cabinets, and plastic everything else cause it's gonna be messy.

I use my mini-grinder with 4 inch diamond blade to CAREFULLY groove the tile along the toe kick of the cabinets. then chip up the rest of the room, and it there are little bits that stick out far enough to not be covered by your shoe molding, then use a cold chisel to break them back a bit. You need to run a shopvac to keep the dust down and have a steady hand on the grinder, but it works well.

Also I would scrape the extra thinset off the plywood, and then add a layer of ditra on top of it, followed by your new tile.
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Old 12-29-2009, 12:24 PM   #6
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Ouch - I may have to go down to the joists. He did a good job when he applied the 1/2 ply U/L. He nailed each sheet every 4 inches sq and may have glued it as well...he didn't want the U/L to move at all.
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Old 12-29-2009, 12:25 PM   #7
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Jim, consider that the job I referred to was caused by flood damage. It was the opinion of the general contractor, the insurance adjuster, and the tile professional (me), that the only way to ensure there would not be any additional mold problems or subsequent tile problems (mainly from the particle board layer) was to completely tear out the floor down to the joists and rebuild. The house also went through a renovation of the basement where the water had soaked the walls and ceiling. Its amazing how much water damage can be caused by a broken refrigerator line.

In your situation, I would start with the plan of a complete tearout and hope for something less. If you begin with the top layer and carefully work down, you may find that you have a workable substrate and not have to completely rebuild.
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Old 12-29-2009, 12:28 PM   #8
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I would simply clean the surface of the 1/2 inch ply (the thinset should come off fairly easily), add a few extra screws, and then use either 1/4 inch wonderboard or ditra on top of it.

You absolutely do not want to tear out everything down to the joists without taking out the cabinets, and there should be no necessity for it.
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Old 12-29-2009, 01:22 PM   #9
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Great!! Thanks Guys!! My plan of attack is to start by removing tiles from the center and see what I have to deal with respect to the condition of the 1/2 U/L. I would prefer to use the ditra since it's only 1/8" and would create less hassle where the tile meets my hardwood hall floor (it's level with that floor now).
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Old 12-29-2009, 02:28 PM   #10
Edthedawg
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Jim,

You'll thank yourself in the long run to just chop up the floor, replace EVERYTHING w/ new materials, and not a) kill yourself trying to delicately remove all that mess, and b) every have to wonder what might fail first.

You do it right, yourself, to proper specs and you never have to worry. and trust me when I say it's easier. there's just no value in trying to salvage old flooring.

good luck w/ your project
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Old 12-30-2009, 01:47 PM   #11
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For anyone else trying this project I found a cheap "toe kick saw" at Harbor I'm going to invest in. I have a lot of cabinets to work around and this is made for the job...I'll check renting too.

http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/cta...emnumber=94626
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