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GC

Junior Member
Registered: 04/26/06
Posts: 38
Reply with quote  #1 
I'm replacing ceramic tile that is in a house that is about 10 years old. I had someone scrape off the tile, but only the tile would come off. I tried it myself, too, with a pick, a 6' iron bar and a shovel. But only the tile comes off. The thin set/mortar that was used to install the tile is staying stuck to the slab. You can even see the ridges/grooves from the trowel, and many of the tile pieces were very clean underneath with no mortar stuck to them.

I bought a heavy duty scraper that is designed to remove tile and, I think, mortar. But it doesn't work either. The scraper is 4-5' long and has a rung near the bottom so you can put your foot on it and a lot of pressure. But it really doesn't work. I have about 320 sf that I want to clear to put down hardwood flooring.

I called Home Depot tool rental, and they said maybe a demo hammer/tool could work. They also rent grinders, but I don't want a dust cloud since the rest of the house is in very nice condition. Someone else suggested a jack hammer.

Any ideas on how I can remove the thin set/mortar? A while ago I had tile removed  from another house, and it came off pretty easily. But there had been water on the floor that maybe softened it up?

Thanks!


timb

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Senior Member
Registered: 09/21/07
Posts: 383
Reply with quote  #2 

yeah thats a tough one,,, you could try heavy grit sand paper and belt sander or grinder, but you will have dust, might try the demo hammer tool, I think you can get larger blade for them,,,but I would sand/grind, deal with the dust.


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GC

Junior Member
Registered: 04/26/06
Posts: 38
Reply with quote  #3 
Thanks for the suggestions. I googled the topic and found quite a bit of info. There are also some youtube videos. One of them was of something that looked like a large ride-on mower/mini-steam roller that scraped it away very easily. But i doubt that machine is available at the tool rental place. I'll look into the stripping maching Javipa suggests as well as see what the Home Depot rental has tomorrow.

Below is a compilation of articles and posts I found on the web in case it helps anyone. The first 2 are from eHow.

This looks like an ugly project. Makes me think of one of Javipa's posts where he quoted some guru from a long time ago that said something like: "Do what others are not willing to do, so you can do for the rest of your life what others are not able to do." I guess tomorrow's the time to do what others are not willing to do.  


ARTICLES AND POSTS ON REMOVING THINSET FROM CONCRETE SLAB

 

Removing Thinset From Concrete Slab

Thinset is sometimes referred to as mortar because it is used to secure tiles to a floor or wall. It is made of cement and forms a durable connection to the tile when dry. This can be a challenge if you decide to remove the tile, since most of the time the thinset remains stuck the floor. To remove thinset that is on a concrete slab, you must rent power tools to assist with the job.

Plug the cord of an electric hammer drill into an electrical outlet. You can use either a hand-held hammer drill or a larger hammer drill that you can run while standing. A hammer drill looks similar to a traditional drill but has an end that resembles a slotted screwdriver head.

Put on safety glasses, a dust mask and ear plugs before turning the drill on.

Turn the hammer drill on and place the flat end onto the floor at a 45-degree angle or lower.

Push the flat edge of the drill blade along the surface of the concrete slab to chip away the thinset. Continue until all of the thinset is removed from the concrete.

Turn off the hammer drill. You can now take off the safety glasses, dust mask and ear plugs.

Sweep the entire floor with a push broom to collect the small particles of thinset. Dispose of the thinset in the trash.

___________________________________

How to Remove Thinset From Concrete Floor

Thinset is not simply tile glue; it is a cement used for adhering tiles to walls or floors. Many chemical adhesive removers will not soften thinset like they do mastic. When thinset has hardened, it is very hard to remove. You may not have to use power tools, depending on the age and brand of the thinset and condition of the subfloor. Hand tools and How to Remove Thinset From Concrete Floor

Put on an N95 respirator (or, at the least, a common dust mask) and safety glasses. Leather gloves can prevent blisters.

Starting at one corner of the concrete, use a razor scraper (a long-handled one if you are working on a concrete floor versus a wall) to chip away some of the thinset at the edge. If it is coming up, continue scraping it.

Visit a home improvement store and ask about renting an electric floor chipper, grinder or similar tool for removing thinset. This might be necessary if you are unable to get the thinset up with a scraper. These are usually simple to use; you walk behind the machine, holding onto the handle to guide its path.

Finish removing the thinset, either by scraping manually or using the power floor scraper/grinder.

Sweep the thinset dust and debris from the flooring with a stiff broom. Do this before you put away the tools; you might have missed a spot and not noticed when the floor was dirty.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you use a power tool for this, there will be a lot of dust, so keep several N95 dust masks around. The filter will get clogged after a while. Wear a head covering if you want to avoid getting thinset dust in your hair. If the layer of thinset is very thin, you can also try simply sanding it down (with a hand-held
  • power sander).

___________________________________

 

A hammer drill with a chisel bit loud dusty heavy thingy...
Good set of work gloves, dust mask and plenty of time......
 ____________________________________

 

I’ve had a few people looking at this job.. some say I need only to level the floor and fill in the holes with a leveleling agent.. I'm planning on putting laminate down..do I have to go the chisel way??

 

Any self leveling or Portland cement based patching compound will work as long as all you have is trowel ridges and no high spots. Any high spots need to be ground down. This process may raise the floor a bit, shouldn't be much however.

 

we rip up the tile, clean and make sure there is no loose thinset and dust, prime with a primer and either re-float with a multi purpose thinset or use an SLC.
___________________________________

When I tried it today, using the air hammer and chisel, IT IS DEFINITELY EASIER WITH THE THIN-SET WET. It seems to "chip" easier and it is also easier to define the boudary between the thin-set and the slab. That is not to say that I have not made many "divots" in the slab, but it definitely beats doing it dry. In some areas, the slab was "floated" (is that the proper term?) better than in other areas. If there is a good "cream" layer (hoping that also is the proper term) on the slab surface it is very hard to penetrate. In other areas the surface of the slab seems rather soft or at least less hard, and once penetrated, the sub-surface slab concrete gets ripped up rather quickly if you don't pull the air gun back fast.

After six hours of chipping with a 1" chisel (I can't find a wider one to fit my air hammer) I have cleaned about a 6' by 4' area. It is a damn good thing I don't do this for a living! I'd be broke in a week.

To anyone removing thinset, WET IT DOWN FIRST, it will make it easier but not EASY. It is still UGLY, UGLY, UGLY.

_________________________________________

 

You could rent a concrete scarifier and a grinding cup. That would clean it up in a hurry. And make lots of dust.

 

Some scarifiers have a vac attachment so there won't be any dust. Atleast mine does.

_______________________________________________

 

Here's how I removed the thinset from a hallway, entryway, kitchen and bathroom after removing the tiles. I rented what looks like a large, electric hammer drill from Home Depot. You can get a long, wide "blade" (like 6-7 inches wide) that will allow you to almost stand upright while you do this. The blade should be kept at enough angle so you don't auger into the concrete floor, but chips off the thinset. Too steep and the concrete will start to chip out. Not steep enough and the blade will skate over the thinset. You'll get the hang of it. Here's another tip that's been debated by many people. Wet the thinset before chipping it off to just about eliminate any dust. It also makes the thinset much easier to remove. (at least most of the common thinsets used) The longer you can let the thinset soak, the better. I did part of my kitchen the day after I soaked the floor with water (no puddles, but definitly wet!) and let it sit overnight. The thinset was almost pasty the next day.
Oh yeah, get some ear plugs!

_________________________________________

 

If you do a lot of this kind of work , it might be worth looking into buying the 7" setup from Blastrac / United Surface Preparation. with a Blue Max wheel on it. Its a 7'' Metabo angle grinder with a special dust collecting shroud with a vacuum port on it. The dust is tremendous you have to have it connected to a industrial vacuum. EDCO makes a line of floor scarifiers and dust collection systems. Another company that carries the products is DAWSON MCDONALD.
This is not anything that the local Big box rentle center will carry.

actually they rent that stuff at my local Home Depot

 

 

Do you have to match up to anything? why not just float it flat and install the wood floor over the top of it?

No easy way of going about it, but ive found that a 6" scraper (razor blade type) and alot of elbow greese is the fastest and most efficient way to remove thinset without big fancy machines.

timb

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Senior Member
Registered: 09/21/07
Posts: 383
Reply with quote  #4 

I had some old tile on my last flip, big old mexican tile which was rounded at the peak, it was so set on the floor, a 16 pound hickory handled slege hammer would only chip it with a full swing, had to take a full size jack hammer to them, you want to talk about noise and dust. I know its a tough dirty job, but we love it dont we??????


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why say blah blah, when blah will do. Someone told me to calm down,your going to get an ulcer,and I said...I don't get ulcers I give them.
RonaldStarr

Senior Member
Registered: 07/24/05
Posts: 1,444
Reply with quote  #5 
GC--CA-----------------

I think the best advice you've seen is probably:

"Any self leveling or Portland cement based patching compound will work as long as all you have is trowel ridges and no high spots. Any high spots need to be ground down. This process may raise the floor a bit, shouldn't be much however."

 

Good Working*********Ron Starr**********

 

RobertB

Senior Member
Registered: 10/17/06
Posts: 1,740
Reply with quote  #6 
I have used dilute acid to clean tiles of thinset.  It works as a concrete cleaner as well.  Make sure plenty of ventilation.  This is dangerous since it is a chemical reaction with the lime in the concrete.  
larrywww

Senior Member
Registered: 08/29/06
Posts: 1,668
Reply with quote  #7 
RobertB: Dilute acid means acid that has been diluted by water, etc.

But what kind of acid?  Where do you buy it?

I have used the concrete etcher sold by Home Depot, but haven't found it all that good in cleaning concrete.  Especially like the oil stains in the driveway, etc.   I have even used the acid they use in pools (can't recall the name), but even that was not strong enough.  I need to clean some concrete actually.
larrywww

Senior Member
Registered: 08/29/06
Posts: 1,668
Reply with quote  #8 
In terms of removing thinset, Home Depot sells a long hand tool with a wide metal plate blade (it's a foot or more wide).  Brand name is Superior Bilt 14 inch Floor Scraper. If you have any part of  the floor down to the cement, you just kind of ram this tool into the remaining thinset.  (They don't sell it in the tool corral or garden, but it's in the building material aisle somewhere, as I recall.)   Sometimes that works. 

I have also used the Blastrac scarifier mentioned above, but that is for really tough jobs.  Home Depot rents this machine. But everything depends on the condition of the thinset. 

Sometimes my workers can just use a hammer and chisel/screwdriver to hammer off the thinset, but that is when it is kind of brittle and comes away easily from the floor.    
RobertB

Senior Member
Registered: 10/17/06
Posts: 1,740
Reply with quote  #9 
muriatic acid from pool supply, diluted with water.  The more concentrated the quicker acting and more dangerous.  Concrete is porous so acid will take off a layer of cement but will not go deep to pull out oil.  I use simple green and kitty litter.  Any solvent treatment followed by an absorbent is fine.  You are tying to wick it out of the concrete.
CGabhart

Senior Member
Registered: 03/20/05
Posts: 2,086
Reply with quote  #10 
If it does not meet up with more hardwood in another room you could lay a thin 1/8" sheet of plywood over the top of a bed of thinset and glue/float the floor onto the plywood.

You could hilti nail it in place also

If it meets up with another floor you may be able to use a piece of masonite that is very thin also.

This may be your most cost effective solution.

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CGabhart

Senior Member
Registered: 03/20/05
Posts: 2,086
Reply with quote  #11 
What did you do?
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GC

Junior Member
Registered: 04/26/06
Posts: 38
Reply with quote  #12 
Curtis,
I ended up hiring a tile setter who, I think, had a couple of guys use chisels and hammers. I wasn't there for the job, so I'm not sure. I was out of action for a little bit. But I just went to inspect the job, and it looks like they got about 90-95% of it off. I need to tell him that he has to grind down the remaining areas to level them off. I saw a video where they used a handheld, power grinder to do that for the last bits that wouldn't come up.

I'm going to put engineered hardwood down where the tile was removed, and there are 2 areas where the new wood will but up against existing ceramic tile. So I don't think I could have floated the floor because it would have caused too great a difference in height between the new wood and existing tile. As it is I'm having to go with a slightly thinner wood than I would prefer in order to avoid a bump.    

I'll be talking to the guy in a day or two, so when I do I'll ask him what he did.

Thanks to everyone for all the suggestions.



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