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Old 03-11-2009, 08:37 PM   #1
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Using old tile

I have an early 60's bathroom which has those 4 x 4 ceramic tiles that are typical of that era. The tiles in this bathroom are in excellent condition and I want to keep the bathroom looking nice for now. I do have a handful of tiles that are cracked and need to be replaced. These tiles are going to be near impossible to locate. I have two questions.

I have some left over matching tiles that I can use but there is one problem they have concrete backing material left on them and I don't know how to remove the backing material without cracking these tiles.

Also, how can I remove the individual cracked tiles on the wall without cracking the surrounding tiles (I did remember seeing a grout remover tool somewhere).


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Old 03-12-2009, 06:01 PM   #2
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Old 03-13-2009, 03:36 PM   #3
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Maybe an orbital sander would be gentle enough to not crack the tiles, but using a rough enough grit sandpaper to grind it off for you. Just a suggestion, never tried it.
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Old 03-14-2009, 03:00 PM   #4
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The best way to salvage old tile with mortar attached is to take your time.

Had to do this to some old decorative tile that fell off the wall of the mother-in-law's pool...

A Dremel is good and a dental pick (available at many hardware stores) is helpful, too.

Whatever you do, don't do something that causes an inpact to the tile, like chipping away at it; grind and pick instead.

Removing the old tile is more of a dicey proposition.

First, there is a reason for the crack in the tiles.

Maybe someone slipped and whacked their head on the wall-tile, cracking it and their skull, and you inherited the house... but probably not. It's possible that the crack is where two wall panels meet and shifting over time cracked the tile.

So, the tile is set on something... like greenrock or cement board.

If it's on greenrock, when you try to take the tile off the wall, you could peel the cardboard off the core and you can't stick something to the crumbly core.

If it's on cement board, you can pull it off without worrying about that.

To pull a tile, first remove the grout between it and the adjacent tiles. I generally have the best luck removing ceramic by shattering it... just lightly tap it with a hammer until it busts and pick the pieces off the wall.

Before you begin the replacement, make sure the cracked tiles aren't just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. Tap the tiles with your fingertips to see if you hear any evidence that some are loose. Push on the walls to see if there is motion/softness. You may have a larger issue...
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