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joefrank25
04-08-2007, 12:53 PM
Hello,

I'm preparing to do my second bathroom remodel in my home (built in 1954). The thing that I learned from my first remodel is that removing mudset tile is a pain in the rear end. I did it the old fashioned way with a sledgehammer.

Does anyone know of the best tool to use to remove this stuff "the easy way?" I'm thinking a reciprocating saw of some sort, but I'm not sure if the $100 kind from the home depot will be enough to cut through my mudset tile. The mudset is a combination of the tile, about an inch of concrete, and a wire mesh holding the cement onto the studs.

I'd greatly appreciate hearing about any saws/blades that would work well for something like this.

If anyone lives in the Washington, DC area and would like to come and remove my tile, please let me know that, too. :)

Thanks!

Verdeboy
04-08-2007, 05:28 PM
My first thought is to use a demo saw for this job and cut it out all at once. They are very expensive, so take your hundred bucks and go rent one.

I can't imagine that any reciprocating saw could go through that.

leejosepho
04-08-2007, 05:38 PM
Oops! I posted before seeing the above picture. Anyway ...

Depending upon the size of the job, I can imagine blades could be a big expense!

If can achieve sufficient ventilation, check with a rental place about a hand-held, gas-powered concrete saw -- or maybe there is an electric one -- and they should be able to tell you the best blade(s) to use. Like Eric just said, the rental should be far less than the cost of a comparable saw, and you might be able to use a rental diamond (or whatever) blade on a pro-rated (ending diameter and condition) basis. A place I used to work several years ago used to rent saw/blade combos that way.

jadnashua
04-08-2007, 06:12 PM
Never had to do that...the people over at www.johnbridge.com (http://www.johnbridge.com) do it much more often...you might want to ask there. Seems like I remember them saying sledge hammer, but don't quote me on that. My guess is that if you get a chunk out, a good wrecking bar might get it loose from the wall, but the metal lath is vicious stuff.

geniescience
04-08-2007, 06:30 PM
metal lath is vicious stuff.

this is the stuff that needs to be snipped, after the concrete cracks when hit.

david

chassis
04-08-2007, 07:39 PM
If you're talking floor tile removal, I would reach for the SDS demolition hammer. Bosch and Dewalt make them, probably other brands too.

If you're talking wall tile, it is probably more of a manual task. Sledgehammer, masonry chisels and possibly a masonry cutoff wheel for the circular saw. Don't think you need a diamond blade.

leejosepho
04-09-2007, 03:01 AM
If you're talking wall tile ... possibly a masonry cutoff wheel for the circular saw. Don't think you need a diamond blade.

Possibly not, but I believe a rented diamond wheel would cost less than a stack of masonry wheels and not wear out and need replacement.

markts30
04-09-2007, 04:20 AM
A diamond blade for your circular saw would cost less than the rental of the chop saw...
You could afford a good respirator and filters w;ith the ;difference....

joefrank25
04-09-2007, 09:30 AM
Thanks for the help guys. I've done the manual sledgehammer approach - EASIER SAID THAN DONE. It's a pain in the rear end and doesn't come off easily at all. I'll give the rental store a call and see what they say.

Is a "demo saw" different than a reciprocating saw?

Verdeboy
04-09-2007, 10:46 AM
Is a "demo saw" different than a reciprocating saw?

As different as night and day.

All the saws we have recommended have diamond (or masonry) wheels. A demo saw is like a circular saw on steroids. You may be able to get by with a good circular saw with a good diamond blade. But, then again, this kind of work might be too much for it.

A reciprocating saw is like your hedge trimmer, in that the blade goes back and forth at a high rate of speed. It's okay for demoing wood and thin metal, but not tile or concrete. Other names for reciprocating saw are: Sawzall, Tiger Saw.

leejosepho
04-09-2007, 12:49 PM
You may be able to get by with a good circular saw with a good diamond blade. But, then again, this kind of work might be too much for it.

Yes, if you have very much to do, I believe a rental would be much better. I have a tough worm-drive Skil framing saw that had served me well for many years until I trashed it cutting a couple of holes for egress windows.

joefrank25
04-09-2007, 06:59 PM
Looking at my local hardware rental place - I don't see anything labels "demolition saw." Even looking at lowes.com or *********.com and typing in demo saw, nothing really jumps out as the best tool to use. Do you have any specific saws in mind that I could use? Thanks again.

Verdeboy
04-09-2007, 07:15 PM
You need some sort of hand-held concrete saw with a diamond wheel. There's no specific model I can give you.

leejosepho
04-10-2007, 02:50 AM
Looking at my local hardware rental place - I don't see anything labels "demolition saw." Even looking at lowes.com or *********.com and typing in demo saw, nothing really jumps out as the best tool to use. Do you have any specific saws in mind that I could use? Thanks again.

Just ask the rental folks what they have for concrete saws, then pick a small one (with maybe a 15"-or-so blade) that looks like the picture Verdeboy posted above. A respirator mask and lots of ventilation would be a great idea, and be sure to be prepared for dealing with a lot of dust ... and all of that might just make the old sledge-hammer drill a little more appealing, eh?!

restore1920
04-12-2007, 08:38 AM
I haven't had the luxury of removing thickset from a wall (mine's in the hearth and very stubborn) but I've removed a section of thick plaster over mesh from my kitchen wall. Regardless of how you dig into the wall I found using my pry bar at the studs did a half decent job of pulling the staples out of the studs leaving the plaster and mesh more or less still intact. The thickset, being harder and possibly thicker, will probably hold together even better. Less bashing or cutting = less dust and little bits = happier DIYer.

rick.a
04-20-2007, 01:32 PM
I agree with Restore1920. I demo'd a 1928 bathroom which had thickset tiles on wire mesh on the walls. If you cut thru the tile, concrete and mesh on each side of the studs you will get most of it off, but DON'T do it. You will STILL be stuck with prying the fasteners out of the mesh to get it off the studs. So just do that ONLY. Start up high and dig in with a chizel to get started then pull the staples or nails with a nail puller or small crowbar. Roll the tile/mesh mess down as you go. It will just fall away from the studs like wallpaper (well not quite). Many tiles will justs pop off at that time.

You will find that the mesh is in sections, so do one section at a time. The good part is that most of it sticks together and is easier to haul out, just heavy. Cutting with a saw will fill every crack in your house with dust.

kattmanj
05-13-2007, 07:15 PM
I live in the Washington DC area as well and am looking to tackle the same issue.

What method did you use, and how did it turn out? I like the idea of having it all "peel down" after removing the staples from the studs, but as most have suggested, the sledgehammer method is all I've ever heard. I've also thought of using a demo saw and removing it in sections. However, I've heard a lot of people say they end up twisting the studs and ruining the wall on the other side if they remove sections with a stud in the middle.

If you haven't completed the demolition yet, I may be up for a little quid pro quo helping.

Good Luck!

Seth
08-29-2007, 12:00 PM
I agree with Restore1920. I demo'd a 1928 bathroom which had thickset tiles on wire mesh on the walls. If you cut thru the tile, concrete and mesh on each side of the studs you will get most of it off, but DON'T do it. You will STILL be stuck with prying the fasteners out of the mesh to get it off the studs. So just do that ONLY. Start up high and dig in with a chizel to get started then pull the staples or nails with a nail puller or small crowbar. Roll the tile/mesh mess down as you go. It will just fall away from the studs like wallpaper (well not quite). Many tiles will justs pop off at that time.

You will find that the mesh is in sections, so do one section at a time. The good part is that most of it sticks together and is easier to haul out, just heavy. Cutting with a saw will fill every crack in your house with dust.
Rick A. -- I am about to tackle the same job. Your suggest approach sounds like a good one. One question: You suggest starting up high and digging in with a chisel to get started. I take it that the "digging in" follows removal of the ceramic tiles, at least where they sit in front of the studs. A second question: My wall tiles rise about 5 feet above the sides of a tub; where the tiles end (top role is bullnose) the plaster wall is in very good shape and I would not want to damage it; would you suggest prying off the top row of tiles, and then cutting/scoring a line in the plaster (or the junction of the plaster and wet bed) before proceeding? I imagine that I will need to use snips to cut the metal lath along this line, as well. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thank you. Seth.

statjunk
08-29-2007, 01:47 PM
Unfortunetly I have a lot of experience with this! Lol.

I've done it with a demo hammer and I've done it with a sledge hammer. I would not recommend a cement saw for this as you would then have an even tougher time getting it off. because you'd lose your leverage.

This is the approach I take. Essentially I use the sheer weight of the wall to bring it down. I'm assuming that you have a half wall of tile but this can be applied to tile that runs all the way to the ceiling. I go around the room with the sledge hammer above the tile wall and break out the plaster wall exposing the studs. I usually use a 2.5lb sledge for this. So now you have a trench all the way around the room above the tile. You'll need at least 4 12" pry bars. Place them on the studs and drive them down the stud sheering the nails and lath. Once you have all 4 pry bars in place you should be able to pull down that section of the wall. Sometimes they are stubborn and then you get out the 8lb sledge hammer and by hitting the top of the wall knock it to the ground. Then you piece it out and take it out. Very heavy so watch yourself. A small 4' section of that stuff can way more than even a large man can hold in place for even a second so make sure you have a way out.

The demo hammer is a good idea but only if you don't care about the wall on the other side and the studs themselves. I no longer use it because it causes me more work. You still have to take the walls out of there so just swing away. Also don't use really heavy sledge hammers. 2.5lbs is sufficient.

Good luck and wear all safety gear including a real respirator mask.

Tom

frenchie
08-29-2007, 05:57 PM
Follow Tom's advice. And in answer to your question: no, you won't be able to save the plaster anyways; so don't complicate your life trying to.

Seth
08-30-2007, 06:52 AM
Thanks for the replies. Tom, your assumption is correct -- the tile in question does not run all the way to the ceiling. The room has a ten foot ceiling, and there is about three feet of plaster (on metal lath) above the top of the tiled area. It is in very good shape, and it seems to me that since I'm going to have to identify/create an end point to the destruction somewhere, that end point might as well be as close to the top of the tile as possible, saving as much of the plaster wall (above the tiled area) as possible. No matter where I choose to make the end point, I'm going to have to cut the metal lath horizontally, so I don't see an advantage in going higher. The only issue seems to be creating a starting point (trench) where you can get behind the tile/mud/lath with the pry bars and get some leverage to pry the stuff off. I can see that creating that entry point may necessarily result in wasting some of the plaster above the tiled area (unless I can remove the top row of tiles and, through time-consuming effort, no doubt, create the trench in the area previously occupied by this row of tiles). Since I will be doing this as a homeowner restoration job, rather than as a contractor for a customer (where time = money), I'm thinking that by taking more time I might be able to limit the extent of destruction of the plaster above the tiles. I imagine that this is one of those cases (like many) where you simply have to start at it and find out what's there, how stubborn it will be, etc. Seth.

statjunk
08-30-2007, 08:30 AM
Seth,

Save yourself the anguish and knock all the plaster down. Saving plaster walls can be a major pain. Just the shock to the studs from ripping the tile down will cause the plaster above to nail pop and crack. Trust me I've got more than a handful of 1950's bathrooms under my belt. Those bathrooms were probably built to withstand a direct hit from shoulder fired missles.

In addition to the fact that it's nearly impossible to save it you're going to have issues with thickness of substrate. You'll likely have double up the amount of material to get to about 3/4" thick in order to match everything up to the thickness of the existing plaster wall.

Add to that the fact that plastering while difficult hides a lot framing sins. So in many cases the framing was really bad and all the plaster guy had to do was just go thinner in that area and the wall still looks flat. So unless you are planning on building the new wall out of plaster or putting in a mud bed you are going to run into bad studs which will cause your new construction to misbehave which will just cause you more work down the line. I've dealt with thickness differences (due to stud warpage) of as much as a 1/2" in a 1-2 ft run of wall. That is tough stuff.

My .02 gut it to the studs, have small dumpster on site and don't look back.

Tom

P.S. Lath is very sharp. A buddy of mine very recently recieved a cut to his forearm about 1.5" long. I could see his muscle, ligaments and viens.

Seth
08-30-2007, 12:19 PM
I'm already liking this forum. I could never have conversations like this with family members, who just roll their eyes when having to listen to detail about restoration issues. Not to mention that they are not equipped to offer any useful advise.

The background is that the house is about 100 years old and would indeed withstand a missile hit. All framing members and other materials are very substantial (the kind that elicit comments about things not being made like this anymore). I am trying to preserve/restore whereever possible, rather than rip out and replace. So I don't want to get into gutting and new materials. Patina counts, so to speak.

I am, in fact, planning on having my tile guy put in a new wet bed for new tiles on the same walls (tub end and tub side), and in the same area, where the old tiles are presently located. So the issues of substrate thickness and framing sins are non-issues. Because the structural members are so substantial, and because the plaster (on metal lath) is so sound, I have more, rather than less, expectation that the existing wet bed area can be removed without doing excessive damage to the plaster above. I have done renovation demo work in the past, used a wonder bar alot (worked on a framing crew in prior life), etc., so I am not one of the folks who have no idea what they are getting into. I simply haven't done this job before. I really appreciate the input you and others have provided (especially about safety, because I'm the type to generally ignore safety, and obviously I can't do that here), but I'm sort of bent (as you can tell) on trying to do this without plaster removal beyond what is unavoidable, and therefore the questions for me are: how do I best get started (where to attack), how can I do this with the least violence (e.g., shock to walls from sledge) and most surgery (e.g., removing tiles covering studs and then removing individual nails with crow bar or cat's claw rather than sledging or hammering off the entire monolithic mass). I'll be giving it a shot in the next couple of weeks and let you know what success or failure I had, and lessons learned!

frenchie
08-30-2007, 05:35 PM
We tried to tell him... ;)

statjunk
08-31-2007, 05:37 AM
If this was a tile mosaic on the ceiling of your bath I might agree with you that the amount of work necessary to preserve that wall would be worth it. Let me stress "might" Lol.

Either way there are many a dead plaster guys that are saluting you right now so have at it.

Good luck

Tom

Seth
08-31-2007, 11:14 AM
I may soon learn why I am a "Junior Member" and you guys are "Senior Members"! If you are correct about how this is going to proceed, I will either wind up with a damaged plaster wall (because damage was unavoidable), or will find myself spending so much time trying to remove the mud wall semi-surgically that I will quickly decide to start pounding and take it all down! Time will tell! Like I said, I'll let you know. I might have to use that purple "Embarrassment" smile on the next message . . .

Nate R
08-31-2007, 08:12 PM
Seth, have you spent any time at houseblogs.net? You'll find more people that think like you (As opposed to your family members)

nursedoe
09-04-2007, 04:57 PM
Until I read your question I wasn't sure why the wall behind our shower was so thick! Now, I am worried that all the tiles are set in that nearly two inch thick stuff! We are about to demo a 1950's tile shower. I had assumed only the outside wall had that thick stuff. Am I understanding that is what I may find on the inside walls as well? Is there a way to know what I am dealing with before I pull off the first tiles?
As much demo as we are doing these days, I was thinking of investing in a compressor and air powered tools. I am curious to see how your project comes out. Could you post of picture?

Furd
09-04-2007, 08:29 PM
Seth, your member classification (junior-senior whatever) is based upon the number posts that you have. Once you hit 30 posts you will no longer be a junior member.

Nursedoe, I demo'ed a shower that had 1/2 concrete backerboard under the tile with the tile held by thinset. It took me several weeks but I only worked on it a couple of times a week and then only about an hour at a time. I found out that the easiest way for me was to just take out my pent-up frustrations using a big hammer.

Be sure to wear a heavy long-sleeved shirt and heavy gloves. Eye protection is a must and a full face shield is a good idea as the tile is extremely sharp and it has a tendency to fly some distance.

I had originally thought the job was going to be a couple hour piece of cake; the home inspector told me that he thought the shower was constructed with regular drywall. Hah, was he sure wrong!

statjunk
09-05-2007, 05:37 AM
As much demo as we are doing these days, I was thinking of investing in a compressor and air powered tools. I am curious to see how your project comes out. Could you post of picture?

Air tools capabable of that kind of work require a monster air compressor. Can get fairly expensive. I say in order to do the least amount of work you have to be brutally surgical. So less tasmanian devil and more Kool-Aide Man.

Nurse Doe,

You sure do get into things. Wouldn't mind seeing a picture of you and your crew tearing things up.

Here I am. I work alone so this is the best I got.

Tom

toolaholic
09-05-2007, 06:16 AM
I own a hilti gas concrete saw ,but wouldn't use it here! s d s roto hammer
with chisle bitt

Seth
09-05-2007, 11:53 AM
I haven't started the demo work yet (still working on paint removal elsewhere in the room), but am gearing up. What experience has anyone had with using a circular saw with a metal cut off wheel to cut through the wet bed and metal lath? I realize that the dust might be substantial, and I know that in order to get at the wet bed and lath I must firs remove a column of tiles from the wet bed, which is its own task, no doubt. But ignoring the mess, and assuming access to an untiled stretch of wet bed on metal lath, will a circular saw with a metal cut off blade do the job? Dangerous? Special risks/considerations? In concept it would seem to be a way to make a deep enough cut to get through all layers. Seth.

statjunk
09-06-2007, 08:02 AM
That should accomplish what you want just know that with a minute or less you'll likely not be able to see a thing. Ideally you'd want to do that with a wet saw to keep the dust to a minimum.

Tom

frenchie
09-06-2007, 08:52 AM
Mortarbed will wear out a metal blade; metal mesh will screw up a masonry blade. Either way, too much dust for any living creature to survive... and it's very fine dust, will get all over your house no matter how well you seal.

I'm talking: enough dust that you can't see out the goggles within 2 minutes. Take them off to wipe them... on what? everything's covered. Meanwhile, by taking them off, now your eyes are full of dust. And by now your mask is clogging up, the moisture of your breath mixed with the dust means the mask is coated with cement mud, it's getting hard to breathe... so you open the door, and there goes even more dust all over the place...

Do what you want, but - I really don't recommend it. Tom really did describe the best way to go about this.


BTW, a segmented blade risks catching/tangling on the mesh; nasty kickback, very unsafe.


My tool list for this kind of demo:

- good dust mask. the ones with an exhale valve. change as needed, expect to go through a few dozen

- dust goggles

- thick work gloves

- mechanic's overalls

- good boots

- dustpan, broom, handbroom

- buckets, or heavy-duty bags (like the ones you get sand in). Another good trick, learned from a DIYer: doubled paper grocery bag, inside a doubled plastic grocery bag, holds demo debris quite well, without tearing, as it's impossible to over-fill.

- a cheap window fan blowing the dust out

- A chipping hammer (AKA brick hammer, mason's hammer)

- a few masonry chisels (AKA cold chisels)

- 5 lb sledge

- crowbar (AKA wrecking bar)

- pry bar (AKA"wonderbar", smaller, flat)

- tin snips


Point being : IMHO, there's really no place for any power tools in this.

Seth
09-06-2007, 10:45 AM
Excellent information, from all of you. Thank you.

Here is a post from another forum (not to be a traitor to this fine one!). It suggests using an electric chipping hammer rather than a mason's (hand tool) chipping hammer, and attacking the beast first horizontally to find the "joints" (where two sheets of mesh meet, I presume), and then vertically to expose each "joint". Do you have any thoughts on that suggestion, Frenchie?

Thanks in advance. Seth.

"That's an old fashioned mud job you got ahold of. An electic chipping hammer will do the trick (HD rents them), still alot of work though. Drive the chipping hammer thru the tile and mud in a row of holes across the walls. The joints in the wire lath should be every 27-28 inches, once you find those, punch holes over them and the walls will come out in sections that size. Pry bars will be needed, leather gloves and eye protection. A helping hand sure would be handy."

frenchie
09-06-2007, 05:14 PM
Okay, so maybe some power tools are kinda useful for this. A chipping hammer is kinda sweet... it'll shake the frame a lot, though; forget any hopes of saving your plaster, including (probably) the other side of the walls.

It's what I use on floors, though. Well worth the rental fee.

Worth a shot, anyways - for sure it's easier than a sledge & chisel.

Note: if you do use a chipping hammer, add "hearing protection" to that list.

As for finding the joints... I've seen the joints be as far apart as 3'. That makes for overly-large sections, that I for one can't even lift. And the sections are often wired to each other, so there's no real advantage. You'll still need the tin snips to get it into manageable-sized chunks.

statjunk
09-07-2007, 05:18 AM
I'm with Frenchie on this one.

Too bad you don't get a practice bathroom to try all this stuff out on, eh.

Tom

Seth
09-10-2007, 07:09 AM
Well, after considering all of the good advice and options presented in your messages, I went at it the old fashioned way -- manually. Four pound hammer, 1 3/4 inch mason's chisel, and wonder bar. Plywood over the tub. Started with the larger side wall. First chiseled out the column of tiles, and underlying wet bed, at the back end of the tub, where there is a friendly outside corner. Then chiseled out the top row of tiles and underlying wet bed, creating the "trench." Then cut through the wire lath, with snips, along this trench. Discovered that the wire lath had been laid up horizontally, and that one stretch of wire lath ran almost all the way from back of tub to front. Didn't want to try to pry off a five foot wide by two or three foot high mass of tile/wet bed. Was going to create a vertical trench down the middle of the wall, and then cut through the wire lath in that trench, but discovered that I could make decent progress by breaking up (smashing, prying) the tile/wet bed starting from my existing trenches and working inward. So, I ended up with pieces of tile/wet bed ranging from less than a tile in size up to three or four tiles in size. Never did have to face an excessively heavy monolith of material coming down at one time. The inside corner, where the side wall meets the wall housing the shower head and faucets, slowed me down, and after maybe four hours of work over the course of six hours during a hot and humid day (lots of sweat under the goggles), I called it quits for the day. Three quarters or more of it is off, no tool rental charges, no dust in the rest of the house, and, best of all, no (zero) damage to plaster above (or elsewhere), other than chipped off plaster extending at most two inches above the tile line. The story here is that although back in the day they built these tile mud walls to withstand missile attacks, they also built the rest of the room (true two inch framing members, thick rough coat(s) of plaster over metal lath) the same way. So, no collateral damage, and no unhappy purple face from me!

statjunk
09-10-2007, 10:13 AM
I'm glad to hear that Seth. It is rare though.

Tom

Seth
09-10-2007, 01:08 PM
I don't doubt you for a moment. I have worked on rooms (plaster crack repair) where the base was thin, weak, laid on poorly attached old wood lath, and inclined toward crumbling if irritated, let alone subjected to vibration resulting from a sledge hitting structural members. Just like anything else, you have to assess your specific conditions . . .

Thanks very much for the counsel on this project. Without the advance input it would have been much harder to convince myself to take that first swing, and I wouldn't have been as committed to stay the course and not look back! Seth.