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Old 05-28-2012, 04:21 PM   #1
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Removing tile in kitchen, need advice on how to prep for new tile


Today, one of the 13" square ceramic tiles in our kitchen cracked when I stepped on it. This was not a surprise, because the floor started "rippling" about a year or so ago in one spot and was spreading throughout the floor. My wife and I have been wanting to remodel the kitchen at some point, so we knew the floor would need redone.

I removed the broken tile and discovered that it had been laid onto linoleum squares, which were in turn laid directly onto the foundation slab (no subfloor). My wife told me to go ahead and remove all of the tiles and we would start working on flooring as our next project.

Apparently, when the tiles were laid, the linoleum around the perimeter of the room had been removed, because as I approached the walls when removing the tiles, I found those were set directly onto the slab.

The area in the center of the room where the tiles buckled upwards was on the vinyl squares, and I found standing water between the slab and the vinyl. There's no obvious defect in the slab, so I'm guessing the moisture was absorbed upward through the slab, loosened the vinyl and "floated" the ceramic, while the outward tiles (directly on the slab) remained anchored.

So, I now have two questions:

1. what is the best way to clean the slab? There's a mixture of sticky adhesive and thinset on the slab that I need to remove. I want to get the floor clean but not damage the slab.

2. how do I prep the slab for new tile? I don't know anything about tiling, but I'm assuming that I should use some sort of subfloor? Do I need a vapor barrier?

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Old 05-28-2012, 05:45 PM   #2
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Removing tile in kitchen, need advice on how to prep for new tile


No sub floor or backer board--clean off as much adhesive as you can with a scraper--wash and soak the remaining with hot soapy water---scrape again---

DO NOT USE CHEMICALS--they will soak into the porous concrete and make for a bad bond--

If you still have a mess---rent a floor buffer with carborundum stones
Or bury the remaining residue under a thin coat of self leveling compound--Be sure to prime the area or use a self leveling compound mixed with liquid latex.

Jifset and Linewebers liquid is a good example of that type--

Then set your new tiles with a modified thinset---

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Old 05-28-2012, 06:47 PM   #3
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Removing tile in kitchen, need advice on how to prep for new tile


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No sub floor or backer board--clean off as much adhesive as you can with a scraper--wash and soak the remaining with hot soapy water---scrape again---

DO NOT USE CHEMICALS--they will soak into the porous concrete and make for a bad bond--

If you still have a mess---rent a floor buffer with carborundum stones
Or bury the remaining residue under a thin coat of self leveling compound--Be sure to prime the area or use a self leveling compound mixed with liquid latex.

Jifset and Linewebers liquid is a good example of that type--

Then set your new tiles with a modified thinset---
Thanks for the advice! One follow-up question... the area with water stinks! There's a strong mildew odor. Any concerns with using a mild bleach solution to kill the mildew, or would that cause damage to the concrete (or react badly with the adhesive residue)?
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Old 05-28-2012, 06:49 PM   #4
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Removing tile in kitchen, need advice on how to prep for new tile


If you bleach it--let that 'off gas' for a few day--after rinsing well--
If it still smells like bleach--that might cause a bonding issue---
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Old 05-29-2012, 09:26 PM   #5
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Removing tile in kitchen, need advice on how to prep for new tile


So, I've reached the perimeter of the room and ran out of linoleum. The remaining tiles are set directly on the slab, with a layer of thinset that's about 3/8" thick. I went to the big orange box after my daughter's softball game tonight and got a long-handled floor scraper, but it's not doing too much other than nibbling the tile edge and making me sweat. I suppose a tool rental is in order for Saturday. From what I've read, I need an electric chipping hammer. Any specific features/specs I should try to get?

The upshot of this whole thing is that I'm pretty confident that the new tile is likely to stay put once I get it on the slab.
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Old 05-30-2012, 05:36 AM   #6
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Removing tile in kitchen, need advice on how to prep for new tile


Nothing special about the chipping hammer--ask them to sharpen the blade if it's old and rounded over--and WEAR YOUR GOGGLES!!!!
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Old 06-02-2012, 05:45 PM   #7
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Removing tile in kitchen, need advice on how to prep for new tile


As an update, a friend loaned me a Bosch hammer drill (yay, no rental fee!) and I spent about six hours today demolishing the remaining tile and layer of thinset in the kitchen. There's a few spots that I couldn't reach until the base cabinets come up, but they are small enough that a cold chisel will do the trick. Still need to scrape, mop, scape (and also repair a few small dings I put in the concrete while I was figuring out the technique with the drill), but it's coming along.

Need clean up all that busted tile now and get my fridge back in its cubby so I can get to my beer.
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Old 06-11-2012, 11:59 AM   #8
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Removing tile in kitchen, need advice on how to prep for new tile


It's a little late to mention this, but for future reference, if the linoleum is old enough (mid 1970s or earlier), the "paper" backing is actually a layer of asbestos felt that shreds when you pull it up.
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Old 06-11-2012, 04:25 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Chilidog View Post
It's a little late to mention this, but for future reference, if the linoleum is old enough (mid 1970s or earlier), the "paper" backing is actually a layer of asbestos felt that shreds when you pull it up.
This stuff was not that old, and had barcode stickers on the back of it. I'm guessing it was probably about 10-15 years old, and the ceramic tile was laid down on top of it by the flippers who sold us the house.

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