Removing old plastic tile


Old 01-15-15, 01:06 PM
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Removing old plastic tile

Attached pictures are of a bathroom, 1920 house. Decorated by Stevie Wonder The tile is horrific plus it's become discolored from cleaning products (it's actually plastic tile, I didn't know there was such a thing). I'd like to strip it all off back to bare walls and paint them.

I pulled off a couple tiles when I was redoing the electric, you can see the mastic behind. Lathe/plaster walls. How much work is this going to be? I'm assuming presence of lead based paint behind the tile.

The plastic tile pops off trivially, not being held well, so most of the work is going to be getting rid of the old mastic/adhesive off the walls and then patching/plastering.

I'm pondering going and hiring a day-laborer but curious on what tools would be needed.

Also I'm curious what's behind the tile (2 rows tall) under the bathtub and if it's lathe/plaster whether this would be sufficient for a wet location?


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Old 01-15-15, 01:21 PM
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Outside the tub area is not considered a wet area, just that little area under the tub is.
No way would I consider "cleaning up" and trying to paint those walls without first removing what's there now and sheet rocking the wall.
A whole lot easier to remove the plastic tiles and go over it with new better looking tiles or wainscoting.
Is there also a shower as well as that tub?
Old 01-15-15, 01:32 PM
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We're actually going to be renting out the house.

Long term plan is to replace the 4" vent pipe that runs through the bump out with 2". Remove the bump out and relo the toilet.

If I'm going to have to rip out the walls and sheet rock it makes sense (to me) to do that _after_ getting rid of the bump out ..... so the tile may have to stay until we're between tenants as we have too many other projects already to get it ready for renting.

There is a shower in the tub. Getting rid of the aqua-blue shower surround and tiling (subway) is also part of the long term plan.

Old 01-15-15, 03:01 PM
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Not sure you can reduce the vent to 2" and still maintain code. I believe that 3" is minimum and will just barely squeeze into a 2x4 wall.

Its going to be a lot of work smoothing the walls of all the mastic. If you try to remove it, you most likely will destroy it. At the very least, you will remove the outer veneer layer. Like joe mentioned, may be better to go over with tile as you can work directly on the walls as is.
Old 01-15-15, 03:13 PM
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I need to check with permitting department on the 2". Plumber that bid project (way too much $$$) didn't seem to think it was an issue.

I don't like the tile on wall look, not for a 1920 bungalow. Fine in the area around the tub (aqua blue at present). Wainscoating might be option but I'm not sold on that either.

If ripping out walls and replacing with sheetrock is the best option it'll have to wait. I'll tackle that at same time as removing bumpout.
Old 01-15-15, 08:56 PM
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Removing the plaster and putting up drywall would be the fastest and easiest way of eliminating the problem of getting rid of that mastic, but you also need to realize that by replacing your relatively heavy plaster bathroom walls with relatively light weight drywall will result in a noisier house and a noisier bathroom.

The Mass Law of Acoustics says that for every doubling of the mass of a wall or for every doubling of the frequency of the noise hitting a wall, the noise on the other side of that wall is reduced by 6 decibels, or to about 1/4 of it's former value.

17 - Control the Noise

So, removing the mastic is going to be a big job, but replacing the plaster with drywall will also be a big job, but will also result in the bathroom walls not being as effective at stopping noise. People in the bathroom will hear what's going on in the rest of the house better, and people in the rest of the house will hear what's going on in the bathroom better.

If you do decide to remove the mastic, the easiest way I've found to do it is to dull a single edge razor blade and grip it in the jaws of a needle nose style pair of locking pliers.

You need to dull the razor's edge so that it doesn't gouge the plaster. I do that with a belt sander, but just scraping the edge on a piece of sand paper or concrete will do. You want it sharp enough to shave the mastic off the plaster, but not sharp enough to dig into the plaster.

Then, heat the mastic with a heat gun and shave the softened mastic off with the dull razor blade. The high heat won't harm the plaster.

The locking pliers and razor are going to get very hot when doing this work, so:

1. Take any smoke or heat detectors inside the bathroom or outside the bathroom door down,

2. Wear a leather work glove on the hand holding the pliers, and

3. Poke a hole through the sleeve area of the work glove and use a short cord to tie the pliers to the work glove. That's so that if you drop the pliers, they won't chip the enamel on your tub. The cord will catch the pliers before they hit the tub to prevent that from happening.

Also, when working on the walls around the bathtub, put a piece of scrap carpet pile side down in the tub to protect the finish on the tub from getting scratched up.

You'll find that stripping off the mastic actually goes fairly quickly doing it this way. In my case, it took me about 3 or 4 days to strip the mastic off the three walls around a bathtub. It looks like you'll have way more than that to do tho.

A better option might be to strip the plaster off the walls around the tub only and replace those with a proper tile backer board, and strip the mastic off the walls in the rest of the bathroom. The plaster low on the walls around the tub might be in pretty rough shape and may need to be replaced anyhow.

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