Removing thinset from back of porclien tile

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Old 08-11-11, 08:09 AM
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Removing thinset from back of porclien tile

What is the best way to remove thinset from the back of tile. My son attempted to put down porclien tle but did not prep the floor well enough.There was mastic on the floor. The tiles popped up. We removed all ther tiles ( 18 x 18) and cleaned he floor. We would like to try and reuse the tiles but he thinset is on them.
 
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Old 08-11-11, 08:22 AM
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I had that situation once because I screwed up but for a different reason and let them soak in a tub for a while and then was able to scrap it all pretty much off with a paint scraper and wire bush. I was able to get them to the point where they were clean enough to reinstall but it did take a little elbow grease. I hope you don't have that many to do. How many are you looking at? I hope it is not a scary number. Those tiles however are obviously worth trying to salavage because they aren't the cheapest on the shelf for sure.
 
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Old 08-11-11, 08:28 AM
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Thanks for the suggestion, problem is the thinset has dried, we did scrap a few when they were wet. I do have about 150 18x18. Was trying not to replace, but might have no choice.
 
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Old 08-11-11, 09:12 AM
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With that many involved I tend to agree that it might make sense to eat the cost and just replace them unless you want to give up 2 days and scrap til your arms fall off. Never tried it, but a belt sander or grinder might work, but you would be living in a dust storm and it would still take alot of hours. I wouldn't have the patience or time myself
 
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Old 08-11-11, 09:32 AM
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Grinder with a coarse cup wire brush maybe? Soak 'em to help keep the dust down, clamp them to a Workmate bench or similar using 2 Irwin type bar clamps.
 
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Old 08-11-11, 01:37 PM
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Just so you don't repeat your error, what type of underlayment is there under the tiles? You said there was mastic, has it been removed. Is there concrete backer underlayment or kerdi for the tiles to be placed on? Hopefully the installation was not on a wood subfloor.
 
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Old 08-11-11, 02:08 PM
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Mastic might come off after soaking the tiles for a while. Even after it dries it will turn soft when submersed.
 
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Old 12-16-12, 10:10 PM
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The suggestion to soak in water is the correct / best method. However the temperature of the water is very important. You want the water as hot as possible. I just cleaned dried thinset from 80 tiles I soaked in hot water (using a paint scraper) and was able to average one tile every two minutes. When I was first experimenting with the process I used room temperature water and it took 20 minutes per tile. The hotter the water the better. if the water is very hot the tiles only need to soak ~ 5 minutes before scraping.

Be careful not to put cold tiles directly into very hot water or they could break from the thermal shock. I first put the tiles in a bucket of warm water before moving them a few at a time to a smaller bucket of very hot water. This process worked very well (the thinset could be completely removed).
 
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Old 12-17-12, 05:40 PM
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Im guessing oreohead used premixed thinset. Mastic from a bucket that claims to be thinset. It clearly was not a portland cement based thinset that you mix from a bag.
 
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Old 03-04-13, 02:57 PM
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Use a tile saw

If you have a wet saw, which you probably do already being as that you're laying tile, use the saw to remove the thinset by gently dragging the back side of the tile over the top of the blade in a back-and-forth manner. You have to be careful that you don't press too hard and break the tile, and you can inadvertantly remove tile material itself. After about 5 minutes of practice, though, you'll get the hang of it.
 
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Old 03-31-13, 01:56 PM
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I have had the same problem with 120+ 33.3 cm2 tiles to remove the thinset from, varying from 20% to 100% area covered in thinset. I tried the hot water approach and had some success with it (nice tip), but that got me thinking why it worked, and why the hotter the water the better. I wondered if it was due to the different thermal expansion coefficients of concrete and the tile material (i.e. how much they expand as the get warmer) causing the bond between the concrete and the tile to shear , so I tried a little experiment I'd like to share.

I heated my oven to 100 C and shoved a stack of tiles in the oven for 20 minutes. No damage to the tiles and no cracking due to thermal shock when I took them out. With each tile, I placed it on my workbench with two stacked hard book covers and a thin blanket square between the workbench and the tile such that the tile was evenly supported over its whole area. Then I butressed the tile against an immovable couple of wide plastic stops so it wouldn't move as I worked on it.

Using a stiff wallpaper scraper of about 5 cm width, I placed it an an angle of approx 30 Degrees to any edge of the thinset, and started to lightly tap the end of the scraper with a hammer. The results were impressive; the thinset came off in large flakes with minimal tapping force.

I then upped the oven temperature in several experimental runs; I got even better results with the oven at 175C for 20 mins, and will probably see if I get better results pushing it higher. Tiles are fired a 2500C so they can take a lot of heat; what I will have to watch out for is the themal shock at higher temperatures as I take them out of the oven.

A few points to watch out for:

1) Wear a mask - a lot of dust is still generated.

2) I had a couple of breakages due to some flakes of thinset from a previous tile finding its way between the tile and the blanket - keep the blanket clean!

3) Some areas of the thinset that were stubborn to remove could be removed by increasing to angle of the scraper to approx 45 Degrees, but if you hit too hard, you will crack the tile, as I found.

4) The tiles are hot and have a surprisingly large thermal mass! Wear oven gloves when handling.

5) The thinset is just as easy to remove when the tiles cool down again - the bond has already been broken and the thinset will not re-attach itself to the tile as it cools down.

6) Finally, I use a Fein Multitool and carbide triangle to go over the tile and remove the last small traces of thinset.

I reckon 2-3 minutes is the average tile cleaning time. You can shove the next batch in the oven whilst working on the current lot.

Good luck! I hope this post is of use to somebody :-)
 
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