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  • replacing subway tiles

    I removed some originial subway tiles in my bathroom because they were stained on the edges and looked nasty. You can see the slight discoloration aqround the edges in the picture tiles 2. Some of them appeared to have been installed with some grey stuff...maybe portland cement. Some of them were very hard to take off.

    I tried to get the stain off the old tile. I used: Tile-ex, bleach, lemon juice, and "iron-out" stain remover. Whatever I used seemed to make the stain WORSE.

    I purchased replacement subway tiles from a salvage house and they are the old fashioned "flat field" type. Some of the tiles I have are clean on the back (like the tile on the right) and some have grey stuff (cement?) still attached to the back.

    My questions are:
    1. Can I get the stain out of the tiles I took off the wall?

    2. Do I need to prep my new (used) tiles before installing them by soaking in water or something like that?

    3. Is the adhesive and grout mix in bought (in picture tiles 2), ok to use?

    Thanks for any advice you can offer.

    Pauline
    Attached Files

  • #2
    Re: replacing subway tiles

    Can't really tell what the stain is, my guess is some type of mildew or mold since it's at the edges. Tilex would have been my first choice to clean it also. Did you try CLR yet? If that doesn't work I'm not sure what else will.

    As for mortar, I've only known to use thinset mortar and then apply grout, not sure if a premix like that will work for your application, though it should say so on the container.

    Also, about prepping the used tiles, I think you want them flat as possible, so it might be a good idea to sand off as much of the old adhesive as you can.

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    • #3
      Re: replacing subway tiles

      It doesn't look like mildew. It looks more brownish like "iron" which is why I used the "iron -out". Will try CLR.

      The subway tile I'm using is the old fashioned "flat field" type tile and has less than a 1/32" space between tiles.

      This premix adhesive and grout says it can be used for everything except stone tile, porcelain, Saltillo pavers (what's that?), or glass tile. I picked it because it was bright white and I thought some of the discoloration of the old tile may have been caused by that grey thinset or cement.

      After I clean off the back of the tile, do I have to wet it or should the tile be dry when I install it?

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      • #4
        Re: replacing subway tiles

        I'm not sure about the wet / dry when installing question, only experience I have with tile is porcelain mosaic tiles, and I was able to do those dry.

        Only other advice I can think to add is get some water sealant for tile. That wall isn't going to have water exposure like a shower wall would, but seeing how close the toilet is, it should give your grout better protection in case of "accidents."

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        • #5
          Re: replacing subway tiles

          what is the wall? where you want to put the tiles?


          have you tried soaking them in clorox bleach water? mix it strong, if it is a mold or mildew that should take care of it, if it is mineral then it will not more than likely touch it,

          most likely the mortar is a cement lime mix with sand, which is now what thin set would replace,

          the problem is if the tiles are not all the same thickness, it will be hard with our a thick bed of grout to set them level,

          and removing the old grout is not easy, with out breaking the tile, one could try to 'grind" it off by rubbing it on a stone or cement walk,
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