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Old 04-10-2007, 03:20 PM   #1
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Shower Tiles Easily Pop Out - Bad Installation?


I started on a project to replace some cracked grout and one loose tile on my shower floor. After removing the loose tile, I was able to remove four neighboring tiles with my hands. Then, using only a screwdriver, I've been able to pop out all of the remaining floor tiles with no breakage.

Is this normal, or does this indicate that the tile was not installed correctly? I always thought you had to break tiles to remove them. [I've also noticed that the white thinset(?) beneath the tiles seems moist (e.g., with a slight grey tinge) after I remove the tiles. After a few days, the thinset is white and feels dry.]

Also, when installing the new floor tiles, should I grout between the wall and floor tiles (as previously), or should I use an appropriate caulk? Note that the wall tiles previously overlapped the floor tiles by about 3/8-1/2" with sanded grout in between.

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Old 04-11-2007, 08:08 AM   #2
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Shower Tiles Easily Pop Out - Bad Installation?


How old is the installation? You're right about the tiles, they should not be popping out. How thick is the base the tiles are on? The situation you describe is usually associated with an inadequate substrate. Caulk is put into areas where two different planes meet. But I wouldn't concern myself with that now. If the areas start to crack, then I would address it. The wet thinset is normal. Grout does not stop water from getting below the surface. There will be a liner and a special drain to funnel the water down the drain pipe. If indeed you have that construction. With a tiled base, that's what you should have.
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Old 04-11-2007, 09:00 AM   #3
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Shower Tiles Easily Pop Out - Bad Installation?


I think the people installing the tiles likely use those ready mixed cement rather than power mixing cement, which is quick and easy for them but not good bonding...
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Old 04-11-2007, 09:22 AM   #4
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Shower Tiles Easily Pop Out - Bad Installation?


The tile job is almost two years old, but the cracked grout and loose tile showed up after about 1.5 years. I assume that when you say "base" and "substrate" that you are referring to the thinset/cement that adheres them to the solid floor (concrete?) below. I haven't started scraping it up yet, but I'd guess it's about 1/8" or less beneath the tiles. The coverage on the back of the tiles is probably 90-100%

Thanks for your responses. When I started removing the tiles, I decided I'd only remove what I could using the screwdriver. But after so many came out, I started worrying that I was tearing out tiles unnecessarily. I'll be sure to use a good cement/substrate - thanks for that tip.

My next step is to scrape up all the thinset/cement. That sounds like fun! I'm obviously a novice, but I think I have the patience to do this correctly. My husband thinks we should pay someone to retile, but I like the challenge!
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Old 04-11-2007, 10:38 AM   #5
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Shower Tiles Easily Pop Out - Bad Installation?


2 Years old tile installation definitely consider a young installation, Good installations should last tens of years... There is definitely problems in original installation...
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Old 04-11-2007, 07:21 PM   #6
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Shower Tiles Easily Pop Out - Bad Installation?


It is NOT normal for thinset to be wet, unless you mean it was wet only on the surface. It IS, however, normal (which is this product's downfall) for mastic to be wet and soft if used in a wet location (doesn't get any more wet than a shower ).

When you replace it, make sure you use thinset(that comes in a bag and you have to mix yourself) and not mastic(which is probably what the "experts" at home depot or lowes will suggest).

Grout with sanded grout if the spacing is more than 3/16", unsanded if less. Caulk at any change in plane (like Ron6519 said).

EDIT: Read up on tiling a shower also. It's alot different than just laying a floor. Schluter makes kits to take the place of the liner, which will make it cost more, but easier. You'll need a 2 part drain and.....well anyway, read up on it, lol. If you have any questions, come on back and someone will help ya out.

Last edited by jproffer; 04-11-2007 at 07:24 PM.
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Old 04-23-2007, 07:43 PM   #7
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Shower Tiles Easily Pop Out - Bad Installation?


Yep, your discription is screaming out to me mastic not thinset.

As a side note though, we've removed thousands of square feet of tile from showers, floors and walls, and even perfect installations pop off with ease with the right tools, but what you are describing sounds like mastic which isn't the proper material for a shower and part of the reason they are coming off way too easily.

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