Removing and replacing wall tile

Written by katherine kally
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Removing and replacing wall tile
Removing wall tile can be a time-consuming process. (Thampapon/iStock/Getty Images)

Removing wall tile is a time-consuming process that can be streamlined with the proper tools. Your first step is to remove the grout from between all of the wall tiles. You could use a firm putty knife to crush and scrape the grout, but if you have a Dremel or other electric tool with a small grinding wheel, the job will be easier and faster. Your wall tile may be attached to a cement backer board which will make removing the tile much easier. Begin by removing the grout along the edge of the tile that meets a wall with no tile. Wear protective gear to avoid the dust. To remove individual tiles, angle the edge of a putty knife between the tile and the wall and tap with a hammer until the tile comes off. It will likely break into pieces, so wear safety glass during this process. If you see a sheet of cement backer board, begin removing the tile enough so that you can make a hole about 8 inches in diameter, large enough to angle a pry bar between the cement board and the wall. Pull the spade and remove the backer board and the tile. Continue until your wall is clear. If there is no cement board, you will have to remove the tiles individually, using your putty knife and a hammer.

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Removal

Removing wall tile is a time-consuming process that can be streamlined with the proper tools. Your first step is to remove the grout from between all of the wall tiles. You could use a firm putty knife to crush and scrape the grout, but if you have a rotary tool with a small grinding wheel, the job will be easier and faster. Your wall tile may be attached to a cement backer board which will make removing the tile much easier. Begin by removing the grout along the edge of the tile that meets a wall with no tile. Wear protective gear to avoid the dust. To remove individual tiles, angle the edge of a putty knife between the tile and the wall and tap with a hammer until the tile comes off. It will likely break into pieces, so wear safety glass during this process. If you see a sheet of cement backer board, begin removing the tile enough so that you can make a hole about 20 cm (8 inches) in diameter, large enough to angle a pry bar between the cement board and the wall. Pull the spade and remove the backer board and the tile. Continue until your wall is clear. If there is no cement board, you will have to remove the tiles individually, using your putty knife and a hammer.

Preparation

Clean up all of the debris from the tile removal. Attach new concrete board to the wall studs with roofing nails. Concrete board is inexpensive and gives you a smooth surface to install your replacement wall tiles. Concrete board is not a structural element--it acts as a moisture resistant back for your wall tile. Apply the fibreglass tape to the seams to finish the installation. Find the midpoint of your wall using intersecting chalk lines. Place a row of tiles across the bottom, beginning at the centre of the wall and working your way to the ends. Adjust your tiles so that they are evenly spaced.

Replacement

After dry fitting the first row of wall tile, apply tile adhesive to the wall behind the centre tile. Make ridges in the adhesive with the edge of your trowel. Replace the tile by pressing it firmly into the adhesive, twisting it just a bit to get it securely seated. Work your way to each edge, adding spacers on all four sides of the tile for a uniform grout line. Finish one row and then build up until your wall is tiled. Add grout when the adhesive is dry. Finish your tile wall with the appropriate sealer.

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