Removing wall tiles from plywood.

In my bathroom there is a section of boxing no longer required (pipework has now been re-routed). I'd like to remove the boxing and tile the then exposed corner, however to do this I'd need to save at least half of the tiles from the boxing (I have spares but not enough). They are attached to plywood and I think I could take that down without breaking more than a couple of tiles. Is there any way of then removing the tiles with a decent success rate? Soaking? Weakening the adhesive some how? Cutting the adhesive with a hacksaw blade?

I will also ask at the tile centre next time I pass if they can match the tiles. Obviously I don’t want to start on this without a decent plan to succeed as I don’t really want a mismatched corner, nor to have to retile the whole room!

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Comments

  • grumbler
    grumbler Posts: 58,629
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    edited 28 October 2023 at 10:22AM
    In the same situation I used plenty of water and a hacksaw blade with a handle.  And it was a flat wall; can be easier in your case. It was a house that I bought recently. Personally, I always leave at least a couple of packs of spare tiles.
    Also, you can try sawing throung the grout and extracting a tile with a piece of plywood. In the worst case scenario, if anything else fails, the plywood and most of the adhesive can be then removed with an angle grinder.
  • tetrarch
    tetrarch Posts: 244
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    Personally, I think that removing the tiles from the boxing is the least of your problems. If you were able to "magic" the entire box away from the wall, those tiny vertical fillets at the window-end will be impossible to remove intact. Also, on the window wall tile you'll have two tiles butt-joined that will stand out like a sore thumb.

    It really depends on how many "spare tiles" you have as you will likely have to replace the emtire vertical run on the window wall AND succesfully remove the stuck tiles from the box

    I think that whatever you try to do here you will never get an invisible job. This is likely to negate any (marginal) aesthetic benefit from removing the box.

    Is there a particular reason you want the box gone? Can you actually use that space? 

    Regards

    Tet
  • daivid
    daivid Posts: 1,202
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    Thanks for the input so far. I have four spare (complete tiles) though it looks like a match may be available and are in stock at a B & Q 15 miles away. I agree removing the boxing will not produce a perfect result (the bathroom is far from perfect anyhow having been re-organised). The advantages of removing the boxing are that I want to put storage up on the wall into that corner and that I want to close off the space from the end of the bath to the wall. Both these jobs would be possible with the boxing in place but simplified by removing it (at the cost of removing it obviously).
  • ThisIsWeird
    ThisIsWeird Posts: 4,458
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    edited 28 October 2023 at 11:20AM
    To answer your Q, I think you've answered it :smile:
    Remove as intact as possible. Lay sections, tiles-face-down, on a protected surface - say towels on a flat floor.
    Try and slice away as many plies as you can - any tool, such as a stuff filling knife and mallet, for example. Or wood chisels. Or just dig in, lift an edge, and prise/pull layers away.
    Then soak it... SOAK! Perhaps outside, covered with a cloth to hold water, let the current rain do its job.
    The adhesive will likely soften enough to allow it to be scraped off too, but give it time. 
  • Section62
    Section62 Posts: 7,512
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    daivid said:

    They are attached to plywood and I think I could take that down without breaking more than a couple of tiles.

    If they have done the job properly with waterproof board (e.g. WBP ply) then you may be soaking for a very long time with no appreciable effect.

    I think the bigger problem will be getting the ply off the structure without cracking the majority of the tiles.  Any 'flexing' of the ply risks cracks - possibly not visible initially, but may spread once put back on the wall.  Hope they have nailed the ply on rather than screwing it - the latter will seriously reduce your chances of success.

    In terms of matching new work to old, the grout (colour, and width of line) have quite a significant effect on the overall look.  You may want to remove some of the existing grout to help blend the new work in.

    Likewise, if you need to buy extra tiles it is usually best to use them in positions where any slight variation in colour of finish won't be so obvious. Even if they are the same make/pattern/colour there can be enough difference between batches for the new tiles to stand out from the rest.
  • daivid
    daivid Posts: 1,202
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    *UPDATE*

    I decided to have a go with the tiles below bath height as they would soon be covered anyway so nothing to lose! The tiles are actually dot and dabbed to plasterboard (which is screwed to the ply of the boxing). Removing from the wall is pretty easy as I can get under the plasterboard and break it up until I can remove a tile at a time. The challenge now is to remove the tile adhesive (and remaining plasterboard) well enough to allow reuse. One tile I tried chipping away gently- I was too heavy handed and it would take ages to do more carefully. The other tile is soaking in a bucket of water. Will prolonged soaking have an adverse effect on the tile?
  • ThisIsWeird
    ThisIsWeird Posts: 4,458
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    daivid said:
    *UPDATE*

    I decided to have a go with the tiles below bath height as they would soon be covered anyway so nothing to lose! The tiles are actually dot and dabbed to plasterboard (which is screwed to the ply of the boxing). Removing from the wall is pretty easy as I can get under the plasterboard and break it up until I can remove a tile at a time. The challenge now is to remove the tile adhesive (and remaining plasterboard) well enough to allow reuse. One tile I tried chipping away gently- I was too heavy handed and it would take ages to do more carefully. The other tile is soaking in a bucket of water. Will prolonged soaking have an adverse effect on the tile?
    No.
    Sounds promising. Do you have a filling knife/paint scraper? Try that flat against the backs of the tiles, and tap it along (try it on the tile you've already broken!)
    And place tiles on a laid-out towel on a dead flat surface - that should reduce stresses due to raised areas.
  • stuart45
    stuart45 Posts: 3,826
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    Brick acid will break down a cement based adhesive.
  • FreeBear
    FreeBear Posts: 14,262
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    stuart45 said:
    Brick acid will break down a cement based adhesive.
    But do wear a face shield and use heavy duty rubber gloves (Marigold type). Brick acid will also eat clothing and skin.

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