Help Me Learn How To Demo and Re-Tile

created on: 10/16/08

It's time to eliminate my handpainted tiles from the backsplash.  I've never taken down tiles from a vertical surface and we've only put down floor tiles.  Is it possible to get these off without much wall damage and if there is repair, how hard is it?  I am craving some white subway tiles, new paint, new art, reupholstered chairs and THEN I'LL BE HAPPY!!!  If there are any really good tutorials out there for backsplashes, send them my way.  We're having Thanksgiving and I have my hammer in chisel in hand.

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ModHomeEcTeacher on Oct 20, 2008:

I'm grouting to today!

lilybee on Oct 20, 2008:

YAY finito! Pictures?

ModHomeEcTeacher on Oct 19, 2008:

El Fin!

It looks Woncerbar!!  I'm searching for gray grout.  I think I could be a pro with a few more jobs. Ha!

Tedious work.  Mr. Mod ended up helping me cut tiles. Wheww!!

DIY Maven on Oct 19, 2008:

Short answer: Yes. Long answer: it's like wall board in new construction which is always primed before painting; also, everything sticks to primer, which means it'll stick to the fresh mud as well as the paint on top. With all the work that goes into these projects, primer is a good and cheap insurance policy. IMHO.

ModHomeEcTeacher on Oct 18, 2008:

Do I really need to prime over the new skimmed wallboard?

DIY Maven on Oct 18, 2008:

One more thing....if you need to paint any surface that was damaged beyond the area-to-be-tiled, you need to paint/prime the wall board where the paper pealed off FIRST (kind of 'scrub' the brush into those spots to help bond the fibers of the wall board back together) then mud, then prime, and finally paint. If you don't paint/prime before you tile in these areas, what happens is the paint could crack. (Seems the mud reacts to that raw surface and contracts as it cures.) This happened to us once. Very annoying after a remodel!!

DIY Maven on Oct 18, 2008:

Did the paper rip past the tile? If so, you'll want to mud and sand it smooth for painting. If it just ripped under the tile, that's expected. If there aren't any huge voids, I'd just pick off the loose paper bits (maybe use a utility knife to score it before it can rip past the area-to-tile, but that only applies to the edge, of course) and then put a primer over it to seal the wall board. I think I might have mis-spoke earlier. (Too lazy to read through the posts this a.m.) Large voids should be filled with mud; whereas the smaller stuff will fill with the adhesive as you tile. Can't wait to see how it turns out! We're hoping to start the floor this afternoon.

ModHomeEcTeacher on Oct 17, 2008:

Lil, Maven-I'm all ready to layout tiles and start cutting and adhering tomorrow morning.  Lowes was out of gray grout so I have to go to another Lowes tomorrow to pick up grout and spacers, then rent a cutter. I'm inspired!!!

lilybee on Oct 17, 2008:

YAY modhomeec for being all brave and GOIN' FER IT! YAY DIY Maven for
the useful knowledge. And YAY Curbly for being the place to share the
useful knowledge. This whole post has rather given me the warm fuzzies.
Can't wait to see the outcome, I bet it's going to look BRILL!

ModHomeEcTeacher on Oct 17, 2008:

Maven- First of all, Sarah Palin is speaking right now one county over. (no comment)

The tiles are coming off fairly easily, but occasionally it takes a section of paper of the drywall. When I'm done, should I sand the whole surface to smooth it out and fill in those missing paper spots or will the mastik fill it in?

ModHomeEcTeacher on Oct 17, 2008:

Maven,Send him down here, Mr. Mod said "I don't have time to help you!"  Just bought the supplies. Will start demo tonight. WooHoo!

DIY Maven on Oct 17, 2008:

That's why you want to get it flat-ish. If you do, the notched trowel you use to apply the mastic or thin set will leave enough adhesive behind to fill the voids as you press the tiles into it. We tiled our laundry room floor last winter and there were some places on the cement that did protrude. MWT used a cold chisel to knock those down. Generally speaking, it's easier to deal with voids rather than bumps. Like I said, small voids can be filled with adhesive. Also, as we tile, we are very mindful of how the tiles 'feel' next to each other. We constantly run our hands lightly over their surface to check for uniformity. If necessary, we'll add thin set or take some off as needed. We're very anal when it comes to tiling. Especially MWT. He must have snapped 20 chalk lines when we did that floor. There was blue chalk all over our clothes...all over the cat, even.

ModHomeEcTeacher on Oct 17, 2008:

That's great. My one other question is how to you make sure that your tiles are all on the same plane and not tilted or jutting out a bit?

DIY Maven on Oct 17, 2008:

No, you don't have to replace the drywall. If you're worried, you might want to use a utility knife to score around the outer perimeter of the tile slightly. That way, when you pry off the tile, the drywall paper won't rip into the part where there's no tile, if you get my meaning. We don't bother with this, but it might not be a bad idea. Once you get going, they peel off pretty easily. I wouldn't use a hammer if you can avoid it. That makes a HUGE mess. The pry-bar will take them off tile by tile. The mastic or thinset will stick on the tile for the most part. There may be some bumps here and there, but you can use a putty knife to sort of scrape those off to get the wall flatter. And speaking of 'flat'; flat-ish will do fine. You  don't have to get the wall perfectly smooth. Your thinset or mastic will fill in the voids as you set the new tile. Here's an up-close pic of a section from around our bathtub that's ready for tiling.

created on: 10/17/08

ModHomeEcTeacher on Oct 17, 2008:

Maven-So, if the drywall/sheetrock is damaged, I don't necessarily have to replace it, just mud it and put Kilz or Bin Zinsser on it?  It's scaring me to tear into it if it will entail replacing wallboard. I'll have to have your email on speed type in case I get in a quandry.

DIY Maven on Oct 17, 2008:

Your wall will suffer damage--there's no way to get around it. If you're re-tiling, it's not a big deal. Tile covers a multitude of sins. As far as getting them off, we use pry-bars (small and medium-sized) and peel/lift them off. We just did this in our bathroom. Hubby has become quite proficient at mudding, so on one part of the wall (the vanity back splash), he filled with mud and smoothed everything out beautifully. Around the bathtub, he mudded the more damaged spots and then put a coat of good primer over the entire area. Last weekend, we picked up the tile. We'll tackle the floor this weekend and the tub-surround next. At least, that’s the plan.....

ModHomeEcTeacher on Oct 16, 2008:

Dewonangus-I'm trying to tone down the stainless a bit in the kitchen.  What do I do?  Hammer, chisel, what? I'm going to price some subway tiles and actually plan this, unlike so many of my impulsive projects. 

dewonangus on Oct 16, 2008:

I have done it before and it was not hard to get the tiles off, but I had a little difficulty scraping off the old mortar.  I was told that it had to be real smooth as we were installing a stainless steel backsplash.  We just finished another kitchen renovation and again we did a stainless steel backsplash because we love the look of it and how easy it is to keep clean.  Our contractor said we didn't need to worry about it being ultra smooth and in some areas that did get badly damaged he just cut out the drywall and put in a new piece.  You could do this too even if you are tiling.  No need to tape etc.  There are stainless steel tiles out there and they look amazing also.

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