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Old 08-17-2009, 06:48 AM   #1
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How easily should new tiles come off?


Hi All,

I'm tiling my bathroom and had to remove a tile I'd laid a couple days ago. I haven't grouted yet. After cutting around the tile to the backerboard (or very close to it, really), I used a hammer and cold chisel to pry off the tile. It came off in one piece without a great deal of effort. It wasn't easy, but it wasn't as difficult as I'd imagined it would be.

Is that because the mortar is still only a few days old and not fully cured, or might it indicate that I've done something wrong? (I suspect I'll get the answer to that question in the coming weeks and months as tiles begin popping off if that is the case.)

Thanks,
--Derek

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Old 08-17-2009, 08:43 AM   #2
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How easily should new tiles come off?


Thinset is SET in one day or less. Getting a tile off the next day can be iffy, given the proper trowel size. Look at the back of the tile. Should be full or nearly full coverage. Spotty coverage on the back means wrong notches on the trowel, or not pushed down into the thinset.

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Old 08-17-2009, 08:56 AM   #3
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How easily should new tiles come off?


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Thinset is SET in one day or less. Getting a tile off the next day can be iffy, given the proper trowel size. Look at the back of the tile. Should be full or nearly full coverage. Spotty coverage on the back means wrong notches on the trowel, or not pushed down into the thinset.
There was full coverage, but the majority of the thinset stuck to the wall, not the tile. These two tiles were from an area I did at the end of the open time of my mortar and I was a bit concerned that I would lose proper adhesion. I'm using a 1/4" trowel, and the tiles are pushed down well and checked for coverage periodically. But I was using quick set mortar and these were laid at about the 20 minute mark. It hadn't skimmed over or firmed up, but it's still at the outside of the open time. Thoughts?

(Edited to add: There was no really discernible difference in the consistency of the thinset at that time from when it was first mixed, but the bag does say to work fast.)

2nd Edit: I pulled off two more tiles done at the same time, and they were brutal to get off. The backs were caked with mortar and the tiles broke as I removed them. The ones I removed with relative ease were the final tiles I laid with that batch. The ones laid just a few minutes before appear to be fine.

Last edited by Madroaster; 08-17-2009 at 09:19 AM.
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Old 08-17-2009, 03:47 PM   #4
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How easily should new tiles come off?


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Originally Posted by Madroaster View Post
There was full coverage, but the majority of the thinset stuck to the wall, not the tile. These two tiles were from an area I did at the end of the open time of my mortar and I was a bit concerned that I would lose proper adhesion. I'm using a 1/4" trowel, and the tiles are pushed down well and checked for coverage periodically. But I was using quick set mortar and these were laid at about the 20 minute mark. It hadn't skimmed over or firmed up, but it's still at the outside of the open time. Thoughts?

(Edited to add: There was no really discernible difference in the consistency of the thinset at that time from when it was first mixed, but the bag does say to work fast.)

2nd Edit: I pulled off two more tiles done at the same time, and they were brutal to get off. The backs were caked with mortar and the tiles broke as I removed them. The ones I removed with relative ease were the final tiles I laid with that batch. The ones laid just a few minutes before appear to be fine.
I had this same problem... I've been told that as long as the tiles don't come off "easy" then it won't be an issue. The thinset stuck very nicely to the wall, just not to the back of the tile... even the tiles I backbuttered... I think the tiles I was using - cheap home depot kind - where not adhering as well as tiles should.
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Old 08-18-2009, 07:26 AM   #5
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How easily should new tiles come off?


What kind of tile were you working with; stone, porcelain? The piece that came up easily, was it cut before application? Was the back clean or possibly dusty? It's possible the thin set was skinned over before you applied the tile, which would explain the adhesion difference. I don't know about the rest of the members, but I tend to stay away from the quick set, just for that reason. It has it's place...
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Old 08-18-2009, 07:55 AM   #6
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How easily should new tiles come off?


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What kind of tile were you working with; stone, porcelain? The piece that came up easily, was it cut before application? Was the back clean or possibly dusty? It's possible the thin set was skinned over before you applied the tile, which would explain the adhesion difference. I don't know about the rest of the members, but I tend to stay away from the quick set, just for that reason. It has it's place...
They are tile store ceramic. Nothing at all special, but not bargain basement, either. I don't particularly like the quality, but they're not awful. The tile that came off easily wasn't cut, but I can't guarantee it was clean. No reason for it to be dirty, but you never know.

My guess is that it had skinned over as you say.

The reason for the quick set is thus: We overestimated our abilities. We gutted our only bathroom to the studs and joists and wanted to get it back in working order as quickly as possible. The reconstruction went fine until we hit tiling; a day to gut the bathroom and make repairs, the next to put in the new plumbing, electrical and subfloor, then the tub...all was going fine. But we chose 3x6 subway tile, brick pattern with some glass border stuff. In such a small bathroom there was a lot of cutting and figuring and the job just didn't go fast. We bought the quick-set because we didn't want a 48 hour hold up before we grouted. That was a long time ago now and in hindsight, we should have gone with the regular mortar. It's not been a real problem to work with; we keep it down to ~15 sq' at a time, but the overall job is more complicated than we thought and it's taking forever (mainly because the few days we took off from work have run out). If we'd used the regular mortar it would have made no difference, except in cost and occasional stress about open time.

It's coming along fine enough, but as is sometimes the case, I'd have done things differently knowing what I know now.

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