Thickset (mudset) tile removal

Discussion in 'Remodel Forum & Blog' started by joefrank25, Apr 8, 2007.

  1. joefrank25

    joefrank25 New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Hello,

    I'm preparing to do my second bathroom remodel in my home (built in 1954). The thing that I learned from my first remodel is that removing mudset tile is a pain in the rear end. I did it the old fashioned way with a sledgehammer.

    Does anyone know of the best tool to use to remove this stuff "the easy way?" I'm thinking a reciprocating saw of some sort, but I'm not sure if the $100 kind from the home depot will be enough to cut through my mudset tile. The mudset is a combination of the tile, about an inch of concrete, and a wire mesh holding the cement onto the studs.

    I'd greatly appreciate hearing about any saws/blades that would work well for something like this.

    If anyone lives in the Washington, DC area and would like to come and remove my tile, please let me know that, too. :)

    Thanks!
  2. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

    Messages:
    2,051
    My first thought is to use a demo saw for this job and cut it out all at once. They are very expensive, so take your hundred bucks and go rent one.

    I can't imagine that any reciprocating saw could go through that.

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    Last edited: Apr 8, 2007
  3. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    Oops! I posted before seeing the above picture. Anyway ...

    Depending upon the size of the job, I can imagine blades could be a big expense!

    If can achieve sufficient ventilation, check with a rental place about a hand-held, gas-powered concrete saw -- or maybe there is an electric one -- and they should be able to tell you the best blade(s) to use. Like Eric just said, the rental should be far less than the cost of a comparable saw, and you might be able to use a rental diamond (or whatever) blade on a pro-rated (ending diameter and condition) basis. A place I used to work several years ago used to rent saw/blade combos that way.
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2007
  4. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,268
    Location:
    New England
    Never had to do that...the people over at www.johnbridge.com do it much more often...you might want to ask there. Seems like I remember them saying sledge hammer, but don't quote me on that. My guess is that if you get a chunk out, a good wrecking bar might get it loose from the wall, but the metal lath is vicious stuff.
  5. this is the stuff that needs to be snipped, after the concrete cracks when hit.

    david
  6. chassis

    chassis Engineer

    Messages:
    339
    Location:
    SE Pennsylvania
    If you're talking floor tile removal, I would reach for the SDS demolition hammer. Bosch and Dewalt make them, probably other brands too.

    If you're talking wall tile, it is probably more of a manual task. Sledgehammer, masonry chisels and possibly a masonry cutoff wheel for the circular saw. Don't think you need a diamond blade.
  7. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    Possibly not, but I believe a rented diamond wheel would cost less than a stack of masonry wheels and not wear out and need replacement.
  8. markts30

    markts30 Commercial Plumber

    Messages:
    630
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    A diamond blade for your circular saw would cost less than the rental of the chop saw...
    You could afford a good respirator and filters w;ith the ;difference....
  9. joefrank25

    joefrank25 New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Thanks!

    Thanks for the help guys. I've done the manual sledgehammer approach - EASIER SAID THAN DONE. It's a pain in the rear end and doesn't come off easily at all. I'll give the rental store a call and see what they say.

    Is a "demo saw" different than a reciprocating saw?
  10. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

    Messages:
    2,051
    As different as night and day.

    All the saws we have recommended have diamond (or masonry) wheels. A demo saw is like a circular saw on steroids. You may be able to get by with a good circular saw with a good diamond blade. But, then again, this kind of work might be too much for it.

    A reciprocating saw is like your hedge trimmer, in that the blade goes back and forth at a high rate of speed. It's okay for demoing wood and thin metal, but not tile or concrete. Other names for reciprocating saw are: Sawzall, Tiger Saw.
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2007
  11. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    Yes, if you have very much to do, I believe a rental would be much better. I have a tough worm-drive Skil framing saw that had served me well for many years until I trashed it cutting a couple of holes for egress windows.
  12. joefrank25

    joefrank25 New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Specific Demo Saw?

    Looking at my local hardware rental place - I don't see anything labels "demolition saw." Even looking at lowes.com or *********.com and typing in demo saw, nothing really jumps out as the best tool to use. Do you have any specific saws in mind that I could use? Thanks again.
  13. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

    Messages:
    2,051
    You need some sort of hand-held concrete saw with a diamond wheel. There's no specific model I can give you.
  14. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    Just ask the rental folks what they have for concrete saws, then pick a small one (with maybe a 15"-or-so blade) that looks like the picture Verdeboy posted above. A respirator mask and lots of ventilation would be a great idea, and be sure to be prepared for dealing with a lot of dust ... and all of that might just make the old sledge-hammer drill a little more appealing, eh?!
  15. restore1920

    restore1920 New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Colorado
    I haven't had the luxury of removing thickset from a wall (mine's in the hearth and very stubborn) but I've removed a section of thick plaster over mesh from my kitchen wall. Regardless of how you dig into the wall I found using my pry bar at the studs did a half decent job of pulling the staples out of the studs leaving the plaster and mesh more or less still intact. The thickset, being harder and possibly thicker, will probably hold together even better. Less bashing or cutting = less dust and little bits = happier DIYer.
  16. rick.a

    rick.a New Member

    Messages:
    84
    Location:
    Palmer, Massachusetts
    I agree with Restore1920. I demo'd a 1928 bathroom which had thickset tiles on wire mesh on the walls. If you cut thru the tile, concrete and mesh on each side of the studs you will get most of it off, but DON'T do it. You will STILL be stuck with prying the fasteners out of the mesh to get it off the studs. So just do that ONLY. Start up high and dig in with a chizel to get started then pull the staples or nails with a nail puller or small crowbar. Roll the tile/mesh mess down as you go. It will just fall away from the studs like wallpaper (well not quite). Many tiles will justs pop off at that time.

    You will find that the mesh is in sections, so do one section at a time. The good part is that most of it sticks together and is easier to haul out, just heavy. Cutting with a saw will fill every crack in your house with dust.
  17. kattmanj

    kattmanj New Member

    Messages:
    1
    JoeFranK - How did it turn out?

    I live in the Washington DC area as well and am looking to tackle the same issue.

    What method did you use, and how did it turn out? I like the idea of having it all "peel down" after removing the staples from the studs, but as most have suggested, the sledgehammer method is all I've ever heard. I've also thought of using a demo saw and removing it in sections. However, I've heard a lot of people say they end up twisting the studs and ruining the wall on the other side if they remove sections with a stud in the middle.

    If you haven't completed the demolition yet, I may be up for a little quid pro quo helping.

    Good Luck!
  18. Seth

    Seth New Member

    Messages:
    11
    Rick A. -- I am about to tackle the same job. Your suggest approach sounds like a good one. One question: You suggest starting up high and digging in with a chisel to get started. I take it that the "digging in" follows removal of the ceramic tiles, at least where they sit in front of the studs. A second question: My wall tiles rise about 5 feet above the sides of a tub; where the tiles end (top role is bullnose) the plaster wall is in very good shape and I would not want to damage it; would you suggest prying off the top row of tiles, and then cutting/scoring a line in the plaster (or the junction of the plaster and wet bed) before proceeding? I imagine that I will need to use snips to cut the metal lath along this line, as well. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thank you. Seth.
  19. statjunk

    statjunk DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    542
    Unfortunetly I have a lot of experience with this! Lol.

    I've done it with a demo hammer and I've done it with a sledge hammer. I would not recommend a cement saw for this as you would then have an even tougher time getting it off. because you'd lose your leverage.

    This is the approach I take. Essentially I use the sheer weight of the wall to bring it down. I'm assuming that you have a half wall of tile but this can be applied to tile that runs all the way to the ceiling. I go around the room with the sledge hammer above the tile wall and break out the plaster wall exposing the studs. I usually use a 2.5lb sledge for this. So now you have a trench all the way around the room above the tile. You'll need at least 4 12" pry bars. Place them on the studs and drive them down the stud sheering the nails and lath. Once you have all 4 pry bars in place you should be able to pull down that section of the wall. Sometimes they are stubborn and then you get out the 8lb sledge hammer and by hitting the top of the wall knock it to the ground. Then you piece it out and take it out. Very heavy so watch yourself. A small 4' section of that stuff can way more than even a large man can hold in place for even a second so make sure you have a way out.

    The demo hammer is a good idea but only if you don't care about the wall on the other side and the studs themselves. I no longer use it because it causes me more work. You still have to take the walls out of there so just swing away. Also don't use really heavy sledge hammers. 2.5lbs is sufficient.

    Good luck and wear all safety gear including a real respirator mask.

    Tom
  20. frenchie

    frenchie Jack of all trades

    Follow Tom's advice. And in answer to your question: no, you won't be able to save the plaster anyways; so don't complicate your life trying to.

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