You are here:

Flooring and Carpeting/Tile adhesive removal


Hello. Thanks for helping me and others. I'm looking at buying an apartment that has a beautiful mosaic tile floor from 1925. The downtown building was originally a hotel and I'm told that this tiled space on the 10th (top) floor was a ballroom. When the developer built the apartment in 2009, he installed 12" ceramic tile over the old tile in the entry, kitchens, and bathrooms. I talked to a marble restoration company that removed the new tile from the apartment next door, and looked at their work there. They removed the new adhesive mechanically (wet grinding), which of course eliminates the old floor's texture - the restored surface is perfectly flat and shiny (a sealant maybe). The company says there's no other way.

But I don't want to grind away part of the floor unless it's really necessary. Is there a chemical, or maybe a careful mechanical/chemical, way to get the adhesive off? I don't know what that adhesive is but it looks like a typical, average-quality tile installation. I'll try to include a picture.

Maybe there's no alternative to grinding the floor flat. How thick would you guess that old tile is? Do mosaic tile restorations involve grinding even when there's no problem like mine? If I have to grind, should I grind the whole apartment or just where I have to?

Just your best advice, in case I'm not asking all the right questions. Thanks again and best regards. Matt.

Sorry I am tardy with my reply to you, work has been taking all my time.

Thank you for your question Matt,

    I understand your dilemma as there is historical beauty along with historical content. The mosaic tiles are most likely 1/8" thick but there were some examples that were 3/16". Their installation though will not be a modern day method ie: thinset direct bond. This will definitely be an old school mud installation which is quite different so the Mosaics will be sitting over 2-3" of pack mud. The more recent install will be thinset of course and hopefully a "standard" thinset not a modified. Whether you "can" remove the tile and thinset is purely a matter of time and desire. If you have the time and the will, to invest in the endeavor then the old adhesive can be removed. The key to this is whether or not the Mosaic tile stay attached to the mud floor beneath and not lose it's hold and be pulled up along with a big piece of floor mud when the top layer is removed. If the thinset is standard then there is a very good chance that you can pull this off. Careful removal of the tile on top will be half the battle. Here is something though you will need to be aware of. When thinset is sandwiched between two layer of tile sometimes it never fully "cures", it can remain somewhere inbetween cured and soft, but something weird can happen once the top layer of tile is removed. When the thinset is exposed the adhesive can actually complete the last bit of curing and become very had very quickly. So as you are removing the tiles have a sponge and water ready and douse the thinset right away as the tiles are pulled. This will stop any evaporation and also begin to soften the thinset. Just let it soak for an hour and then take the floor scraper that you will purchase that uses 4" razor blades and go to scraping being careful not to raise up the handle too high that it dig into the Mosaics below as they will chip and scratch. Once you see how this process works you will simply repeat this process over and over only doing small areas at a time never exposing any more than will then be scraped...follow me? If you are diligent and work at it I believe this will work, only because I have done it myself more than once over the years. Once you have all that you can scrape up then you can move to an "acid wash" which will loosen the balance of the thinset from the tile and most from the grout joints as the Mosaic's will most likely been grouted with a cement with dye added so it will be very hard, especially in light of how long it has been there...ok? I am confident that no grinding (except maybe your teeth) will be required. Thats it Matt I hope this helps you with your project, feel free to return anytime...

Perry V.  

Flooring and Carpeting

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Perry Vellenga


Ceramic Tile/Marble. I can answer questions about floor preparation, tile selection, layout questions, performance of products, expectations of finish, compatabilities, questions about grout and epoxies, evaluating an installer, asking the right questions to check competence...more? 33 years this August 2012/ many years in commercial application from exterior finishes to Mall store fronts/ interior finishes like floor packages in stores inside Malls examples: The Limited, Lerner/NY, Lane Bryants, Bombay Co., Now involved in Residential new construction covering all types of interior finishes and designs.


I worked in an exclusive field of floorcovering called "Tenant Development" which is by invitational bid only, by way of a National bid list. These are large floor packages usually over 3500 sq. ft. of 18" x 18" Marble and Granite and many other types of Marble and sizes. They are specialty stores where the floor package can cost upwards of $50,000 for one store. I have also done "Structure" stores and J. Riggins stores, Lane Bryant,Express and Body Shop stores where wood flooring is used. Presently work for a National Flooring Company in the Residential new construction arena that covers most interior design elements..Granite Slab tops/wood flooring both job finished and prefinished ect..

My response's are published all across the Internet and picked up by multiple Interior Design sites and Industry related web sites where people have questions...

too many most of which don't count...

©2017 All rights reserved.