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Old 09-14-2011, 11:14 AM   #1
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Re-tiling a small entryway


Just moved in to our newly purchased home (built in '83) a few months ago, and we're feeling stuck on our first big DIY project. We have an entryway to our split-level house that has very thick tile, over what seems to be a wire mesh/mortar layer, that then has the subfloor underneath (see attached).

We've been breaking up the tile to get down the the mortar level, but not sure where to go from there. The mortar itself is very hard to break, so I'm not sure if it will be possible to get back to the wire mesh. The tile we'll be using is at least half the thickness of what's there now, so we're thinking we'll probably need something underneath (not to mention, to level out the irregularities left behind with the mortar).

Any suggestions you folks have would be appreciated!
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Old 09-14-2011, 11:58 AM   #2
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Re-tiling a small entryway


The mortar and the wire must be removed.

It appears you have a plywood or OSB subfloor under the mortar but hard to tell at this point.

What you do have there is what has become known as "Jersey Mud Job" meaning that thinset mortar was used along with chicken wire to install your tile. That particular method is frowned on strongly by the Tile Council of North America and has failed all tests performed using that process over the years. That's not to say that particular method can't work under certain conditions but it is considered unacceptable by the industry.

First remove everything down to the wood substrate then we can get you moving in a positive direction. Won't be the easiest thing you have ever done I'm afraid.

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Old 09-14-2011, 12:12 PM   #3
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Re-tiling a small entryway


Thanks for the quick reply. What would be the best method for removing everything down to the wood (I do blieve it's plywood, but haven't verified from below) - I've got family coming this weekend with a maul, but if there's an easier way I'd be glad to hear it So far we've just been banging on the tile with a 4lb hammer and scraping off the bits with a "floor chisel" The mortar itself seems pretty resilient to the hammer - any that's actually come up has been with a piece of tile.
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Old 09-14-2011, 12:12 PM   #4
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Re-tiling a small entryway


Get a short handled 3# sledge hammer and start beating on it, make sure you wear safety glasses, chipping away with a chisel you will be there for a week as opposed to about 2 hours.

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Old 09-14-2011, 12:33 PM   #5
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Re-tiling a small entryway


I imagine at this two-minutes it would be hard to convince you that that method of installation is unacceptable.

I use what is called a "heavy-bar" and it is a stand-up scraper that weighs about ten pounds. It does a fair job but it also isn't easy.

I also use a stand-up air chisel, works okay but still isn't easy.

You could rent an electric "chipping hammer" and try it that way but be careful not to dig into the subfloor. The stand-up air chisel is also available for rent in some areas. The tool I am talking about is made by the EDCO Company.

It appears modified thinset was used and that stuff has some real staying power and is in fact resilient when it comes to hammer blows.

Elbow grease is the only way in this case.
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Old 09-14-2011, 12:40 PM   #6
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Excellent, thanks for all the information!
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Old 09-14-2011, 01:44 PM   #7
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Bud is correct, anything that you use with power can tear up your subfloor. I found that elbow grease and a heavy bar is a really good method. Leverage is your friend on the job, and beverage is your friend after the job. Try not to get them mixed up too often.
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Old 09-14-2011, 03:18 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob1975 View Post
Leverage is your friend on the job, and beverage is your friend after the job. Try not to get them mixed up too often.

Thats what my problem is.......darn..... I always get them mixed up..........
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Old 09-14-2011, 03:23 PM   #9
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Thats what my problem is.......darn..... I always get them mixed up..........
Me too!
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Old 09-14-2011, 05:03 PM   #10
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Re-tiling a small entryway


OK, good news is they tiled right over linoleum. I got a good chunk up in 20 mins just with a pry bar. Bad news (I think?) is I think the subfloor is OSB. I chipped a bit off and it kind of came off like cardboard, rather than wood. I'm guessing I should replace that..
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Old 09-14-2011, 05:27 PM   #11
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Quote:
Bad news (I think?) is I think the subfloor is OSB.
Nothing wrong with that, leave it. Unless what you have there is 1/4" ply don't worry for now.
I see two layers and that's a good thing.

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