Removing Shower Tile Cleanly

Discussion in 'Shower & bathtub Forum & Blog' started by ericpd, Sep 18, 2008.

  1. ericpd

    ericpd New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Hi all,... first post. HGTV and DIY Network are going to be the end of me yet. I've taken on the project of replacing the shower head and faucet in our master bath. I do not have the option of going in from the back as the back wall is the left side of the double sink vanity. So what I'm hoping I can do is to cleaning rip a 3x3 tile or 4x4 tile square to gain access. This would make it easier to patch and re-tile,.. right? In none of my research does it explain this, the running assumption is that the wall is being completely torn down OR a new wall is being constructed. Now I've knocked out a few tiles already, but I also crumbled and destroyed the green wall behind the tile in the process. I'm ok with replacing the Moen faucet assembly and shower head. Research went well on that stuff. I think I'll also be ok with the actual re-tiling.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,995
    Location:
    New England
    Is this on the shower side or a dry area? If it's in the wet side, greenboard is a lousy material. National codes no longer allow it in a wet area, and regular drywall is fine in dry areas.

    But, that aside, are you trying to save the tile, of just remove it?

    It's usually nearly impossible to remove a tile intact if it was installed correctly. To get it off, first cut or saw or rout out the grout all the way around the tile you desire to remove. Then, take a hammer and a chisel, whack it in the middle, and then work out towards the edges with the chisel, chipping it out. Make sure you wear eye protection and long sleeves wouldn't hurt, as shards can be sharp depending on the type of tile.

    If the greenboard is on the wet side, you'll likely find that it is deteriorating low down where it gets the most spray. Neither tile nor grout is waterproof, and with enough moisture on top, will eventually cause it to rot out.
  3. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    If your shower tiles are installed over greenboard, then you have a complete shower redo in your future. Best to attack it now, before you are completely molded up.

    Tile grout lines are poroues .. Moisture gets on the greenboard, which really does not stand up to any moisture.

    When you pull off a tile, you remove the paper layer on top anyway.

    Are any parts of your wall mushy yet when you put a fist on a tile? They will be soon.
  4. ericpd

    ericpd New Member

    Messages:
    8
    This is the wet side I imagine,... all three sides get pretty wet during a shower in my case. I was originally talking about the wall that contains the shower faucet and the copper up pipe to the shower head and copper lower pipe to the bath tub, and the two copper horizontal pipes bringing in the hot and cold. Based on your post, I'm thinking that's called the wet wall. Okay,... learned that. My intent was not really to save the tile, as it is the standard gloss white small square stuff. I priced replacements at 72 cents each at Home Depot. I just confirmed that it is green board under the tile, so now I'm thinking just take a hammer and whack away to expose the studs.

    I'm at a point where I can easily change directions if I must. Since opening this thread, I've opened up a hole that's 4 tiles wide and 4 tiles deep. Used a pipe cutter to cut all four pipes leading to the faucet's cartridge housing. The pipe feeding the shower head exits out of just green board (no tile) and I left it just hanging inside the wall. It's attached to a horizontal 2x4 nailed between two vertical studs. The down pipe is still connected to the tub fixture and can wait til I figure the rest out. I ended my night by capping off the hot & cold copper supply lines with Shark Bite End Caps so I could safely turn the house back on and do some more research.

    So,.... you folks are saying that if there's green board under the tile, the safest and more economical thing to do is to do all three sides and get it over with? No mushiness that I can feel. But I think I'll price out some Cement board in the morning. I understand that's the standard now.

    Big thanks! I'll be back. LOL!
  5. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    Cement board is the most common, but membrane systems ( Schluter ) are becoming popular. Remember that cement board is also NOT water proof. It is immune to damage from being wet, but MUST have a moisture barrier behind it ( 6 mil poly, or 15 pound felt)
  6. ericpd

    ericpd New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Interesting! I not too long ago returned from Home Depot and talked with a guy that seemed knowledgeable. He said something very similar to what you are saying. He suggested using a staple gun to attach this thick rubbery stuff to the studs, screw down the cement board avoiding seams to touch one another, then use a special type of adhesive (the one in the blue-n-white plastic bucket as opposed to the green-n-white plastic bucket) to do the tiling. I forgot the name that fast,.... sorry! Almost exactly what you're saying.

    I tell ya something else I discovered. They also have these three-sided fiberglass shower liners for a couple hundred bucks. Thinking seriously about that option. For someone not really knowing what the hell they're doing and just OJT'ing their way through this,... that might be safest. What's your opinion on these liners? Now I understand they make them to cover existing tiled walls OR a slightly different type that's designed to cover bare sheet rock.
  7. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,995
    Location:
    New England
    Avoid pre-mixed mastic (even if it says thinset on the label). The reason mastic stays pliable in the bucket is that it can't dry out. When it gets wet again, it can re-emulsify. You don't want that in a shower! If you are going to go to the trouble of redoing things, might as well do it right. The vapor barrier needs to run down and over the tiling flange of the tub. CBU down either to or preferably over (but if the flange is not recessed or you shim out the studs, you DON't want it to bow out over the flange) the flange. Caulk the changes of plane (corners) and tub/tile junction, no grout there. Or, for a caulk-free shower, you can use expansion joints like those made by www.schluter.com. Your walls need to be plumb and square to use these, though, or it will be a pain.

    Check out www.johnbridge.com to guide you through your tiling and use thinset you buy in a bag and mix up in batches, not mastic bought in a bucket. Too many horror stories about mastic (which is okay, but still a lot more expensive to use than thinset in dry areas).

    While you are at it, now would be the time to consider a niche to hold the shampoo, etc. Use a paint on waterproofing called Redgard for this, or buy a preformed niche. they care really handy, and don't cost much.
  8. ericpd

    ericpd New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Ok fellas,... all three wall came tumbling down. Boy was that fun. You should have seen the mess and sloppy stud work Ryland left behind. Even I could recognized this level of shoddy work. Aren't the studs suppose to be 16 inches apart? Well not in my bathroom. But with all three walls exposed, I began to see and understand what this stuff is about,... no expert, but a beginning to a good understanding. Rented a industrial stapler from them ($5 for the day) and stapled the liner they recommended on the studs for all three walls. Bought enough cement board to cover the walls and put them up, taking care to fold the liner material as recommended where the walls meets the tub. The wife picked out some 12x12 wall tile HD had at a rediculour price by the front door (some tiles were cracked in the box so we bought two extra boxes just in case. Was lucky to find matching 3x12 end pieces and 3x3 corner pieces. But we're toying with the idea of tiling all the up to the ceiling. Originally it was only tiled up to maybe 3/4 the way up and wall papered the rest of the way to the ceiling. Taking you advice and using the thin set you have to mix as opposed to the pre-mixed stuff. Even bought this very long auger type thing to stir it with a regular hand drill. The plumbing is done,... the Moen is in nice and snug. I hope these SharkBite things work,... I'm not putting a lot of confidence in these things. They just don't seem like they're gonna do the job over time. I mean you can turn'em and twist'em and they just don't seem tight enough. But no leaks after removed the caps and turned the house back on with everything in place.

    Well my Saturday will be dedicated to tile work, so I'll prolly be back asking some detailed questions on that. I'm sitting down now to do some research on grout work and the like.

    Again,... I wanna thank you guys for the advice you've already given me. It has turned out to be very valuable,... especially on the green vs cement deal and the backing between the studs and the board.
  9. ericpd

    ericpd New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Done,... thank God for SharkBite and Hardie Backer! These two products really helped this novice get through this with a minimum of headaches! Well along with the advice here.
  10. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Oh boy!
    How about a picture of this valve installation before you close things up...
  11. ericpd

    ericpd New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Didn't know I could attach photos in here. The job is done,... completed, fini. But luckily I took some pics with my phone's camera to help me explain my needs to the guys at Home Depot. Gonna post them now,... hope they turn out good enough to see my work at that point. Trust me,... it really looks nice in there now.

    Well here goes.

    Attached Files:

  12. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    You need to get the valve supported better. Those sharkbites will allow it to turn. Also is the tub spout using a drop eared sharkbite elbow? How is it secured?

    What are you doing for the wall Repair?

    This was kinda what I was worried about when I read your post.
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2008
  13. ericpd

    ericpd New Member

    Messages:
    8
    You are so right about support and SharkBite allowing movement. I ran another horizontal 2x4 from stud to stud directly behind the valve and strapped the hot and cold supply lines to it. The line going to the tub has an elbow SharkBite that is identical to the one you see at the shower end. Three wood screws and a copper strap.

    As far as wall repair, the wife and I took hammers to what you see and we've replaced the three sides with new board and 12" tile. The pic you see is early on in the project, so you're still seeing my attempt to save the wall. As the titled to this thread suggests, I was trying to just get in there and close it up, but that project turned into an almost complete bathroom renovation. I used 3/4" Hardi Backer for the board regular thin set to do the tile. The edges of the tile were designed with bumps and imperfections so that there was need for maintaining grout spacing, just butt them up against one another and they create there own grout spacing. That's it! I'll take some pics of the finished project and put them up if you like.

    But the shower in the basement I'm not going to replace the wall. I will be repairing the wall. I've already cut my hole in the wall,.... 3 tiles wide by 3 tiles deep, just like the one in the pic. So if you have any tips on wall repair, I'm all ears. Before we decided to put up new tiling and realized that the wall under the tile was pretty much soaked and molded, I remember the fear of not knowing how to patch things up. I imagine I would have had to frame up something to screw a Hardi Backer patch to, then putty the edges of the patch, then tile directly onto the Hardi Backer board.
  14. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Redwood doesn't do walls...
    Not even in his own house!
    Some of the others will chime in shortly!
  15. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,995
    Location:
    New England
    You may have to screw some wood backer so you have something to screw the hardie to. Use thinset and the special mesh tape on the seams and it should be fine.
Similar Threads: Removing Shower
Forum Title Date
Shower & bathtub Forum & Blog Removing a Rusting Wall Anchor from a Travertine Shower Wall Jul 7, 2014
Shower & bathtub Forum & Blog Removing Stuck Shower Arm and Drain Dec 18, 2013
Shower & bathtub Forum & Blog Removing a shower pfister valve Aug 3, 2013
Shower & bathtub Forum & Blog Removing Shower Drain Problem Mar 16, 2013
Shower & bathtub Forum & Blog Need help id'ing and removing bath/shower cartridge Feb 16, 2012

Share This Page