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Removing original ceramic tile

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Joined: May 15 2003

Once again, I need help with a remodeling issue. We're right in the middle of new windows installation and have the furniture pushed back to accommodate this. Now the ceramic tile is exposed and we can see what a sorry state it is in. It is the original tile (35 years old) with years of wax, etc. build-up, discolored/uneven coloration, grout problems. It just looks really bad now that the rugs are off.

So I had a "tile restoration" person give me an estimate for bringing it back to life. The estimate came back rather high and neither one of us could predict whether the "acid wash" would even fix some of the problems, e.g., the black shoe polish that had been brushed into the grout in years past, part of which had regained its original color of gray while other spots are still jet black.

This is leading us to consider the other option, being to re-tile. My biggest question aside from the cost, is how does one remove the ceramic tile without damaging the Eichler cement underneath - the one with the radiant heat pipes in it? Ceramic tile is applied with a kind of cement base, is it not?
Sigh,
Bernie

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Joined: Apr 2 2003

I'm a little confused--happens more often than I'd like to admit ;-) What part of California are you in and what is the age of your home? Is this original ceramic floor tile in a loggia area?

Personally, I haven't heard too much from people about trying to preserve original ceramics. If the presentation is substantially affected and currently available materials are a reasonable match, I'm not sure anyone would fault you for replacing it.

Jake
Fairglen tract in Willow Glen

eichfan at rawbw dot com

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Joined: May 15 2003

I'm in Los Altos. My worry with replacing the tile, is whether removing it will damage the cement underneath? And subsequently damaging the radiant heat pipes? Or is this not an issue?
bernie

Tod
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Joined: Mar 21 2003

I did not know that any Eichler was originally outfitted with ceramic tile. I would not be surprised if you find old linoleum mastic under your thin-set once you get the tiles up.

Our Sunnyvale Eichler had ceramic tile floor from a 1970/80s remodel in most of the public areas. It actually came up pretty easily: A hammer and a cold chisel was pretty much all we needed. On ours, we could put the blade of the chisel against the side edge of a tile then take a pretty good whack at it with the hammer and break the bond of the tile to the thin-set. There were actually a pretty surprising number of tiles that came off in one piece.

I must caution you that the 1970/80s remodel had lots of signs of a "do it yourself" job. (No permit and a bunch of questionable workmanship.) It could be that our tile came up easily because it was not well installed.

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Joined: Mar 20 2003

Tile is usually applied with thinset mortar. If you chisel it up yourself, get a chisel with a hand guard. Apparently the depth of the radiant heat pipes is highly variable. I think your question about damaging the underlying concrete is wise. Post that question in the John Bridge Tile Forum.

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Joined: Aug 28 2003

Whenever chiseling out tile be sure to wear safety goggles. :)

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Joined: Mar 21 2003

Bernie:

We put new tile over our old loggia tile 2 years ago. There have been no problems with the new ceramic tile. I know of at least one other Eichler (Walnut Creek 1968) in our neighborhood that had the same process done. Why restore when you can have superb looking new tile that matches the surrounding tile and is at the same level as the surrounding floor? We tiled our entire house, about 2300 square feet with porcelin tile and are very pleased with the results.

Michael

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Joined: May 15 2003

Michael,

How did this tile on tile affect the heat generation from the floor?

Bernie

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Joined: Mar 21 2003

Bernie:

The radiant heat works fine. I can not feel any diminishment in the loggia area compared to surrounding areas.

Michael

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Joined: Apr 10 2003

Hi. My husband and I removed all the old slate tile from our Walnut Creek Eichler with a hammer and a cold chisel, as well as a long-handled flat thing (technical term) that you put under the edge of the tile and then push on. We had no trouble with the slab underneath; although there was a pipe here or there that was closer to the surface than it should have been, we did not cause any damage to the underlying concrete. On the tiles that didn't pop up easily, we used a hand-held air hammer (quite small) carefully to remove the tile and any mortar that wouldn't budge. We've re-tiled almost all the house and we love it! Radiant heat works better than ever! Good luck!

Marianne D.

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Joined: Jan 29 2004

bernie wrote:
I'm in Los Altos. My worry with replacing the tile, is whether removing it will damage the cement underneath? And subsequently damaging the radiant heat pipes? Or is this not an issue?
bernie

Not an issue at all if you have a good tile contractor. We just had the original ceramic tiles removed and put slate. It will take little nics of the concrete slab with it but it does not expose any of the rebar or radiant heat pipes.

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Joined: Nov 21 2003

This past summer I removed the ceramic tile that was in our Kitchen/Entry and although a pain a very worthwhile project. Combination of the Chisel and Hammer, and the Red Fiberglass Handle Tool Scraper thing located at Ho@# De*&T on the tile isle. It took more time scraping the thinset up from the floor than it took removing the tile. I too never encountered the radient heat pipes or any rebar.

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Joined: Mar 20 2003

Hello,

As long as you don't use an industrial jack hammer you should be fine. ;> The repairs done on my radiant pipes revealed that the pipes themselves are about 5 inches below the surface. The slab conatins the copper pipes by the way. In other words, the pipes are not laid on top of the slab. In my house (located in Castro Valley) there wasn't even rebar, just a wire mesh of some sort.

Anyway, I wouldn't worry too much about damaging your radiant.

t

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