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mark2741 08-23-2009 11:05 PM

Removing Bathroom Ceramic Tile Laid in 1970
I recently purchased a new (used) house a few weeks ago. We love the home but knew coming into it that the 2.5 baths are in need of remodel, as they are the originals from when the house was built in 1970. Even the fixtures/cabinets (all they need is a disco ball to complement them!) : )

I'm not super-handy but was able to manage finishing my last house's basement and doing a decent job, and prior to selling my last house I replaced all the fixtures (toilet, mirror, lighting, and cabinet/sink) in the powder room.

So, I'm going to start with the powder room in the new house. First thing is I need to remove the tile flooring. Unlike the two full bathrooms, this powder room ceramic tile flooring isn't pink or blue : ) But it has a dark gray grout lines and I figure if I'm going to learn how to tile this is the place to start as it's fairly small compared to the other bathrooms.

So I've been reading online about how to remove tile and the articles all say that you have to know what the tile is attached to before removing them. Well, how do you find that out? The home inspector we hired before purchasing the house (he was also a structural engineer) told me that most likely the two upstairs bathrooms' tile floors were laid on backerboard, but I didn't ask him about the powder room. The powder room is just off of the family room, which is the one room in the house that I was told was on a concrete slab. So I'm guessing the powder room floor under the tile is concrete. If so, can I simply take a small sledge hammer and chisel and start chipping this tiles off? Or do I run the risk of damaging the concrete underneath?

Thanks so much for any advice/help!!

MI-Roger 08-24-2009 07:15 AM

Our 1979 home did not use backer board..........
From peering under the marble thresholds during re-carpeting projects, and opening the plumbing access doors, I am confident the 1x1 ceramic floor tile in the full bath of our 1979 vintage home was laid in a mortar bed rather than on backer board. With your home being even older (pink and blue baths sound like the 1950's or 1960's, not 1970's) I would be surprised if the tile was installed on backer board. An original installation on a mortar bed could make floor replacement more challenging.

The "Durock" website identifies this product, the best known brand of cement backer board for ceramic tile installations, as having been on the market for 25 years. I guess it can be assumed that any home older than the mid-1980's will NOT have backer board under the tile. Experts can give better answers than I, but the entire mortar bed may have to be removed with the old ceramic tile. With the old mortar bed removed you would need to install new backer board for the new ceramic floors.

If the powder room is constructed on a concrete slab, the tiles were probably applied on thin-set directly on the concrete. A thin ceramic tile will fracture much much easier than a 4-inch thick concrete slab! If you use a tile setter's hammer and a cold chisel to break the tile (rather than a heavy sledge hammer) you should have no worries of damaging the slab underneath

mark2741 08-24-2009 08:23 AM

Thanks Roger.

I'm gonna start with the powder room and give it a go later this week. I first have to remove wallpaper and fixtures. I'm *fairly* confident I won't do any irreversible damage to the concrete.

As for the upstairs bathrooms (the pink and blue ones) - yeah I'm worried about those. At least I get to start off with the powder room : )

The house was definitely built in 1970 - it was part of a large development of houses that were all built in the same time. It was a 'green' development (in 1970!) - mostly all electric, very well-built homes in terms of insultation, etc.

Everything in the house was redone except for the 2.5 baths. The master bathroom is tiny and that can't be fixed no matter what I do. But the center-hall bath is huge and the powder room, which is adjacent to the 'sunken' family room that sits on the concrete slab, is pretty big too. So I'm eager to get these bathrooms done. I recently got one of those cool 'flip' HD video cameras (a Creative Vado, to be exact) and will film the progress and surely have questions to post (with video!).

Thanks again!

Snapstr 10-15-2011 11:25 AM

removing tile floors
I am no expert but have tiled over 10 floors in my house and rental properties.
At first reading your post, it appears you don't like the dark grout. If that is the major problem, might consider scouring the dark grout and reapplying new grout that you like. I have not done this myself, but saw it on TV (Flopping Houses) and it seemed to work.
I have torn up several bathroom floors and it is a nightmare unless you have a tile remover. You can go to Home Depot/Lowes or local rental and get one for about $50 for a day. It is like a vibrating chisel that breaks up the thin set (mortar). I did my two bathrooms by hand- there was cement board underneath (15 yr old home) and it was still a nightmare-- chiseling out 4 by 4 inch tiles one at a time. Took twice the time to remove the tile than to put in the new floor. Good luck.
PS would recommend using porcelain tiles vice ceramic, as they are much more durable. I went to Lowes and Home Depot and got the tiles for over 50% discount as they were clearance-ing them out. I got about 270 12-inch tiles at Home Depot for 19 cents each... the pallet was sitting there for some time w/o a sign and Home Depot kept marking it down. I asked what the cost was and fell on the floor when I found out the cost -- I got all they had for remodeling some of my rentals.

Bud Cline 10-15-2011 12:27 PM


PS would recommend using porcelain tiles vice ceramic, as they are much more durable.
Porcelain tiles ARE ceramic tiles.:eek:

By the way Snapstr, why are you digging up bones that are more than two years old?:)

Snapstr 10-16-2011 01:18 PM

This forum to for helping others
My first point is that this is a forum to share information with others to help them with issues ("digging up old wounds"); I assume there are others that have the same issues

Secondly, Bud is technically correct that porcelain is ceramic; but this is the same as calling tomato a vegetable. All of the stores that I have been to differentiate between porcelain and ceramic tile.
I recommend people installing tile do research before they select porcelain or ceramic tiles. If you install tile outside you need to use porcelain. If you are using a wet-saw, you need a blade that says use with porcelain vice ceramic tiles.

I hope there are others out there who feel this information is useful and not trying to criticize others that provide no useful purpose.

Bud Cline 12-08-2011 08:55 AM

Your information isn't new, it has been posted here hundreds of times.

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