Author Topic: Tool for demo of tile countertop and backsplash?  (Read 2631 times)

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Offline 4nthony

  • Posts: 66
Tool for demo of tile countertop and backsplash?
« on: November 24, 2021, 05:24 PM »
I've got a countertop and backsplash which is made up of large 18" x 18" x 3/8" (travertine?) tile that I'm looking to remove so I can prep for new countertops.

What kind of tool would assist in removing this without having to simply bust it all out with a sledge hammer? Would something like a rotary hammer with a chisel bit be an appropriate tool or is there something better?

If I go cordless, I'll probably stick with Dewalt as I'm on their battery system -- all my Festool are corded -- but I'm fine with something corded from any brand. Also, I'm also not sure how much use I'll get out of this tool once this project is done so I'm taking cost into consideration.

Suggestions? Thanks!

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Offline squall_line

  • Posts: 1032
Re: Tool for demo of tile countertop and backsplash?
« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2021, 05:32 PM »
I've seen oscillating multi-tools (OSC Vecturo, Fein Multimaster) used to scrape out smaller tiles, but I'm not sure about using it on larger (12-18") tiles.

Offline afish

  • Posts: 741
Re: Tool for demo of tile countertop and backsplash?
« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2021, 05:37 PM »
I live in Florida so I have removed more than my fair share of tile.  I love this thing  Would I use it to demo a full floor? no but for small jobs it rocks.  This all depends on how well the original setter did. Plus it blows away the hammer drill function of the typical hammer drill/drill driver combo.  Im sorry I ever waited to get it. 

Offline Jim Metzger

  • Posts: 84
Re: Tool for demo of tile countertop and backsplash?
« Reply #3 on: November 24, 2021, 06:04 PM »
I'd start low tech. A 3pound sledge, I call it a lump hammer (also known as a drilling hammer or mini sledge) and a wide cold chisel coming in from the edge and not the surface.  I'd bet those tiles will pop right off.

Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 9109
Re: Tool for demo of tile countertop and backsplash?
« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2021, 06:35 PM »
I used a Milwaukee SDS-Max hammer fitted with a wide chisel blade to remove marble from an entry. Impact only, no rotary motion & attack the edge of the tile from a shallow angle, almost parallel to the surface at times. Sometimes whole tiles will pop at a time.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2021, 09:38 AM by Cheese »

Offline 4nthony

  • Posts: 66
Re: Tool for demo of tile countertop and backsplash?
« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2021, 09:31 PM »
Awesome, thanks for the info and videos. The rotary hammer models mentioned will get me going in the right direction. I've got a small sledge and a 1" cold chisel that I used to demo some Spanish floor tile about 10 years ago. That was backbreaking, but maybe this tile will be a bit easier. I'll give the sledge and chisel a go for this, but I have a feeling I'll be getting a rotary hammer after a short amount of time.

There's a corded Bosch with tile chisel that isn't too expensive and looks like it might do the trick, although I think I prefer the form factor of the Dewalt posted by @afish as it looks like it might be easier to handle.

Offline afish

  • Posts: 741
Re: Tool for demo of tile countertop and backsplash?
« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2021, 09:50 PM »
it all depends on how well its set.  I demoed a bathroom that had over an inch of mudset on the walls and 2 layers of lath. That was a bitc! that bath would have lasted forever...The dewalt wouldnt have never handeled that bath. Otherwise, the dewalt is great for walls and tight spots. A larger corded unit is better for floors and will require less bending over.  The dewalt s compact nature back fires for floor work. The cordless is smaller and lighter for tight spots and walls. The dewalt is my go to for that and small bathroom, foyer floors but I break out the Hilti TE 75 for any thing more than that.

Online Bob D.

  • Posts: 2391
Re: Tool for demo of tile countertop and backsplash?
« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2021, 11:08 PM »
You could rent what you need and keep more cash in your pocket. Sounds like less than a day would
get the job done. That is if you don't see enough need in the future to justify purchasing one. I'd guess
about $60 for a full day, maybe $40 for a half day.
-----
It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?

Offline Alex

  • Posts: 7740
Re: Tool for demo of tile countertop and backsplash?
« Reply #8 on: November 24, 2021, 11:45 PM »
I can't believe people steer you towards a thing like that cordless DeWalt. I've removed lots of tiles on many projects. You want a powerful corded drill for that. That Bosch you posted looks fine, though it is the smallest cordless type you can get. But I have worked with Bosch drills like this, and if the tile is not too hard, it works fine.

Besides power, shape of the tool is important. You want to be able to attack tiles from all different angles. So you want your tool to be long and thin, and not have a big lump on it like the DeWalt. Again, a corded drill like the Bosch has the edge.

If it is a one time job I concur with the suggestion above to rent one.

Offline afish

  • Posts: 741
Re: Tool for demo of tile countertop and backsplash?
« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2021, 08:47 AM »
I cant believe some people comment without reading the original or subsequent posts.  You did read "countertop" and "backsplash" correct?  That's not the best or easiest location for a large corded unit.  The Dewalt is more of a scalpel not a machete. Every tool has a purpose and its not a one size fits all. I was very truthful and thought I was very clear about its limitations but I guess some people need it dumbed down to 3rd grade level.

The "Dewalt" IS NOT for every situation (just like most tools, DUH...)
1. Will it remove tile that wasn't built to withstand a nuclear blast with minimal effort = YES. 
2. Would I use it for floors = NO. 
3. Would I use it for surgically removing pieces of tile without damaging surrounding tile or the substrate = YES. 
4. Does it work well for getting in tight areas = YES. 
5. Does its nice compact size and light weight make it nice for removing wall tile instead of lifting and maneuvering 30 pounds of tool all day = YES
6. Is it a replacement for a Bosch 11335k = NO
7. Will A smaller Bosch corded unit work too. = YES
8. Does the photo make the dewalt look bigger than it is = YES  The "lump" isnt much bigger than the handle. Its a very compact unit in person.
9. Does it "attack" tile from every direction = YES (actually a long tool like the bosch is going to limit you more since you wont be able to pivot it up/down as much in a backsplash situation)  Also the bit can be rotated or more importantly the tool can be rotated around the bit (just like every rotary hammer I have ever seen) if there is an obstruction such as a wall, cabinet etc. 
10. Do I work for Dewalt or receive any type of compensation if you buy one = NO
11. Do I own this tool, use it and know its capabilities before passing judgement about it = YES
12. Do I care if you buy one = NO
13. Do I know and understand that every tool has its limitations and not every tool is ideal in all situations = YES





8. Will the Dewalt be subject to the typical shortcomings of cordless tool vs. corded tool =YEP.


Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 9109
Re: Tool for demo of tile countertop and backsplash?
« Reply #10 on: November 25, 2021, 09:37 AM »
I agree with Bob & Alex...just rent the hammer that you need unless this type of work is in your future.  Also, bigger is better in this case because you just want to remove the tile and be done with it. If you go with too small of a tool you'll become frustrated and probably revert to a 3# hammer and a chisel. [eek]

From HD rental, the 1st item would be my suggestion, the 2nd item may be ok in a pinch .  Chisels and points are an extra rental.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/rental/Makita-Roto-Hammer-1-1-2-HR4010C/309392088

https://www.homedepot.com/p/rental/Makita-Roto-Hammer-1-HR2811F/309392089

Offline rst

  • Posts: 2712
Re: Tool for demo of tile countertop and backsplash?
« Reply #11 on: November 25, 2021, 10:45 AM »
I use a Milwaukee 1 1/8" M18 rotary hammer and a corded 2" Milwaukee SDS Max to hammer out concreted in commercial door frames regularly and very occasionally tile and flooring.

Offline 4nthony

  • Posts: 66
Re: Tool for demo of tile countertop and backsplash?
« Reply #12 on: November 25, 2021, 11:26 AM »
I agree with Bob & Alex...just rent the hammer that you need unless this type of work is in your future.  Also, bigger is better in this case because you just want to remove the tile and be done with it. If you go with too small of a tool you'll become frustrated and probably revert to a 3# hammer and a chisel. [eek]

From HD rental, the 1st item would be my suggestion, the 2nd item may be ok in a pinch .  Chisels and points are an extra rental.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/rental/Makita-Roto-Hammer-1-1-2-HR4010C/309392088

https://www.homedepot.com/p/rental/Makita-Roto-Hammer-1-HR2811F/309392089

I always forget HD has rentals and yeah, I think you guys are right. Renting might be the best course of action as I don't see a need for this tool in the long term. Thanks for all the feedback!

Offline pixelated

  • Posts: 328
Re: Tool for demo of tile countertop and backsplash?
« Reply #13 on: November 25, 2021, 11:50 AM »
I needed to turn a peninsula into an island in my kitchen a couple of years ago. I bought a cordless Bosch rotary hammer, somewhat similar to the linked DeWalt one. It worked well, for getting a low angle you just turn the machine on it side and rotate the chisel to whatever orientation you need. I had a previous round of getting through tile countertops using hand tools, the power tool is a great alternative.

For me, buying made sense since I had a few projects queued that need a rotary hammer, I got a reconditioned one for a good price, and it has worked well for me.

Offline shanegrilah

  • Posts: 44
Re: Tool for demo of tile countertop and backsplash?
« Reply #14 on: November 25, 2021, 01:07 PM »
I see a missed opportunity to get something more fun.


Offline Rob Z

  • Posts: 1068
Re: Tool for demo of tile countertop and backsplash?
« Reply #15 on: November 25, 2021, 01:09 PM »
Hello Anthony

Before starting any work or acquiring tools, I would do some investigation to determine how the tile had been set and what is the substrate.  Get inside the cabinets with a light and take a look at what you can see from the underside and how it might be connected to the cabinets. An earlier poster mentioned a wide cold chisel and small hand sledge.  Use those two tools to try and remove a few tiles at different locations (on the wall, the flat surface of the counter, and any trim on the front of the counter). We demo'd hundreds of tile installations and saw just about every method and product available. An electric chipping hammer isn't going to be the best choice for all installations.

Offline Peter_C

  • Posts: 1215
Re: Tool for demo of tile countertop and backsplash?
« Reply #16 on: November 25, 2021, 03:03 PM »
The counter tops may come out in one piece which is what Rob Z I believe is saying too by looking inside the cabinet.

Bigger is NOT always better. I have a couple SDS Max, a hammer drill and demo hammer, that are useless for finer work. Had to borrow a friends SDS + when chipping stucco for window replacement, as the SDS Max shattered everything.

Offline RJNeal

  • Posts: 564
Re: Tool for demo of tile countertop and backsplash?
« Reply #17 on: November 25, 2021, 06:40 PM »
Anthony, I have used a Hilti TE 7 , SDS plus for dozens of showers, countertops, and floors.
I think the cordless will work but a little bit slower.
I would look into a rental if this is a one time project.
I highly recommend that you get a tile chisel rather than using a regular chisel.
A tile chisel is sharpen on one side like a wood chisel. It helps keep the point from digging in to the substrate and it also helps pop the tile up. For some reason I can’t post pictures today.
Rick.
Have you walked your saw today?

Offline 4nthony

  • Posts: 66
Re: Tool for demo of tile countertop and backsplash?
« Reply #18 on: November 25, 2021, 07:15 PM »
There are screws coming through the ply that are probably securing the backer board to the plywood. The plywood is probably secured into the cross braces and/or the cabinet carcass.

On the overhang, there's about a 1/2" gap between the face frame and the backer. The layer of thinset is about a 1/2" and the tile is 3/8" thick. There's some screws that are visible in the gap but my guess is they were meant to secure the backer board into the edge  of the plywood but were driven too low (I didn't see or feel any screw heads on the inside of the face frame to make me think they were driven from that direction).



I think I can start chipping away the tile along the edge, and once some of those are gone, I can get a clean shot at the seam of the top tiles



The idea for this started after we moved into the house earlier this year. We were frustrated with the shelves and small drawers in the cabinets.



I ripped out the shelves and part of the face frames and have been building new drawer boxes.



The ultimate goal is to add some drawer fronts and mimic the look of these cabinets with the vertical slats between the drawers and horizontal pulls. I'll either paint or veneer the existing face frame but with the vertical slats and drawer fronts, you won't really see it until you open a drawer. The cabinets aren't in the best aesthetic shape but they're pretty solid overall and I can definitely work with them. Lipstick on a pig!



My wife, getting excited at the prospects, commented that she'd LOVE a new countertop, and so here I am.  [cool]


Offline Rob Z

  • Posts: 1068
Re: Tool for demo of tile countertop and backsplash?
« Reply #19 on: November 25, 2021, 10:21 PM »
Anthony,

The pics help to get an idea of your project.  Looking at the screws on the inside of the cabinet carcass, up near the top:  are those screws run into the carcass next to it or are they run upward  to bite into the plywood substrate? I was hoping you had the traditional corner blocks in the cabinets that could be cut with a multimaster so you could release the substrate.  But maybe your substrate is as you suggest screwed from the top into the sides of the cabinets and the braces.

I can't figure out what the original installer did along the front of the counter.  Do you have the clearance to run a grinder wheel up between the face frame and the backside of the counter edging so you can cut through those screws? Before I read your comment about 1/2" thick layer of thinset on there my first thought was that they used Denshield as a substrate.  In some ways that would be good for you now because it might come out easily. Are you sure it's thinset?

I think your best step now is to get some of that edging tile off and get an idea of the cross section of the counter.  Maybe it's two layers of plywood. Whether it's double layer plywood or backer board over a single layer of plywood, let's hope there is low bond strength for the setting material and you can pop the tiles off with a wedging action from the side. If so you might be able to expose the screw heads and back those out and lift the sheets without much trouble.  If sure doesn't look like they used very many screws on this.

When I see skimpy work on the substrate details then I think there is a decent chance they cut corners on the setting materials and trowel technique.  So you might well find that these tiles come off without too much brute force.

Offline 4nthony

  • Posts: 66
Re: Tool for demo of tile countertop and backsplash?
« Reply #20 on: November 25, 2021, 11:36 PM »

Anthony,

The pics help to get an idea of your project.  Looking at the screws on the inside of the cabinet carcass, up near the top:  are those screws run into the carcass next to it or are they run upward  to bite into the plywood substrate? I was hoping you had the traditional corner blocks in the cabinets that could be cut with a multimaster so you could release the substrate.  But maybe your substrate is as you suggest screwed from the top into the sides of the cabinets and the braces.


I'll check on those screws in the morning. There are a couple that appear to connect to the adjacent cabinet, but it's possible that a few of them go into the substrate. Also, there are two triangles in the front left of the two outside cabinets. This is the one on the right (the leftmost cabinet also has this triangle in the same location):



Quote

I can't figure out what the original installer did along the front of the counter.  Do you have the clearance to run a grinder wheel up between the face frame and the backside of the counter edging so you can cut through those screws? Before I read your comment about 1/2" thick layer of thinset on there my first thought was that they used Denshield as a substrate.  In some ways that would be good for you now because it might come out easily. Are you sure it's thinset?


I do not have a grinder, but I might be able to get at those screws with a multi-tool. I'm not positive it's thinset. However, the drawer side is much thicker than the back side. On the back side, there's a small overhang/bar. The tiles on top are full size so I'm guessing they needed to pad out the overhang with extra thinset for the edge tiles to be flush with the top tiles.



Quote

I think your best step now is to get some of that edging tile off and get an idea of the cross section of the counter.  Maybe it's two layers of plywood. Whether it's double layer plywood or backer board over a single layer of plywood, let's hope there is low bond strength for the setting material and you can pop the tiles off with a wedging action from the side. If so you might be able to expose the screw heads and back those out and lift the sheets without much trouble.  If sure doesn't look like they used very many screws on this.

When I see skimpy work on the substrate details then I think there is a decent chance they cut corners on the setting materials and trowel technique.  So you might well find that these tiles come off without too much brute force.

I'll start on the edge and go from there.

When we moved in, I was chatting with the neighbors and learned that this house had been a rental since the early 70s. Knowing that, I'm expecting to find that that a lot of corners were cut in this place.

Offline Dongar

  • Posts: 93
Re: Tool for demo of tile countertop and backsplash?
« Reply #21 on: November 27, 2021, 09:57 AM »
If you have a decent compressor the best whey I have found is a air chisel. They are cheep and light and you can regulate the force by changing the air pressure. I have  also use my rotary hammer but is slower and more unwieldly and I hate to put all that wear on a expensive tool.

Offline Alex

  • Posts: 7740
Re: Tool for demo of tile countertop and backsplash?
« Reply #22 on: November 27, 2021, 11:39 AM »
I have  also use my rotary hammer but is slower and more unwieldly and I hate to put all that wear on a expensive tool.

Huh? Isn't that what it's for?  [scratch chin]

Offline Dongar

  • Posts: 93
Re: Tool for demo of tile countertop and backsplash?
« Reply #23 on: November 27, 2021, 11:44 AM »
It cost $375 the air chisel cost $25 and it works much faster and is less than 1/2 the length. I would rather wear the drill out drilling holes.

Offline Rob Z

  • Posts: 1068
Re: Tool for demo of tile countertop and backsplash?
« Reply #24 on: November 27, 2021, 08:40 PM »
Anthony

If your multimaster doesn't cut through the screws or can't reach some of them, one thing to try is a long, fine tooth (12" + ) blade in a sawzall. You can get the sawzall inside those cabinets that are large enough and flex the blade and ride it along underneath that plywood substrate. It helps to drive a shim or use a flat bar here and there to wedge the counter assembly upwards a small amout and the blade will ride along more easily. You can also run the sawzall all along the top of the face frame in the front and cut all the screws that might be holding the front down.

Also, once you get the sink out you will see a cross section of what the original installer did, as well as that provides a convenient point of attack for getting under the tiles that are set on the countertop.

The area of the sink is a good place to separate sections of countertop assemblies so they can be taken out in bigger pieces and with less demo. Unless a lot of reinforcement was installed, the counter substrate is narrowed considerably in front of the sink and behind it, and as a result it's relatively easy to break the counter into pieces there.

Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 9109
Re: Tool for demo of tile countertop and backsplash?
« Reply #25 on: November 27, 2021, 09:13 PM »
Just to add to Rob's description, the Sawzall blade that you want to use is not one in Milwaukee's current line of demolition blades. They are way too thick and will not flex at all. You need a narrow & thin Milwaukee fine tooth blade that will flex & cut at the same time.

In this photo, you want to use something similar to the 4th blade down from the top. I use this particular blade for sneaking between/underneath cedar siding boards and cutting the nails. It may be difficult to locate the blade because in the last 5-7 years the focus has been on demolition, while the blades Rob & I are discussing are more finesse blades, used for house surgery... [smile]

« Last Edit: November 27, 2021, 09:25 PM by Cheese »

Offline Rob Z

  • Posts: 1068
Re: Tool for demo of tile countertop and backsplash?
« Reply #26 on: November 27, 2021, 11:11 PM »
Cheese--thanks for the assist [big grin]!  I have a lifetime supply of sawzall blades remaining so I haven't shopped for blades in the past 6+ years. That's interesting that the flexy, sexy blades aren't easy to find. Hopefully, Anthony can find some so he can do some sawzall surgery on this job.

Offline 4nthony

  • Posts: 66
Re: Tool for demo of tile countertop and backsplash?
« Reply #27 on: November 28, 2021, 02:54 PM »
Quick update: the screws on the upper panel are screwed into the adjacent cabinet so no detaching the counter from that point.



Also, my multi-tool blades are just long enough to get at the other screws so I probably won't need to use the sawzall (at least for the screw removal).

On a related note, I learned my dishwasher is trapped.  [eek]

The counter and flooring were probably installed with the dishwasher in place. No flooring was installed under the dishwasher so the lip of the flooring prevents the feet from sliding out. The overhang of the counters are just low enough to prevent the body of the dishwasher from tipping out (but high enough for the door to open). Good that the counter is coming out as the dishwasher is on its last leg and will need to be replaced in the coming months.

I'll probably start removing the countertop after New Years. I don't think my wife would be too happy not having use of the kitchen during Christmas and New Years.

Offline Laminator

  • Posts: 362
Re: Tool for demo of tile countertop and backsplash?
« Reply #28 on: November 29, 2021, 10:27 AM »
I'm in full agreement with Dongar on the air chisel.  I have used this a few times on morter bed\expanded metal tile tops and backsplashes which had to be pulverized to remove.  I've removed tile glued straight to plywood and almost all popped up and could have been re-used.  If the tile is set on hardi backer I can't say as I have never had to remove any that were installed that way.  I would see what driving a prybar under that front edge accomplished and go to the air chisel if needed.

Offline Packard

  • Posts: 854
Re: Tool for demo of tile countertop and backsplash?
« Reply #29 on: December 02, 2021, 09:04 AM »




My wife, getting excited at the prospects, commented that she'd LOVE a new countertop, and so here I am.  [cool]

[/size]

It appears that the countertop in this illustration is part of the sink.  John Boos (the butcher block manufacturer) makes these countertops and I think they also offer one-piece sink/countertop assemblies, but I am not seeing it in their website.

https://www.johnboos.com/Items_page.asp?s=c&SalesCode=&Prod=3&Page=47&Group=10&hdg=Stainless%20Steel%20Counter%20Tops%20-%20No%20Backsplash%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20&nsf=False&nsfc=True&csa=False

I demo-ed wall and floor tiles from two bathrooms with Harbor Freight's hammer/drill.  It probably will not be as durable as commercial-grade products, but it worked fine for the two bathrooms.

Their bits are not very good and I bought different brands from Amazon.com.  I can look that up if you need that information.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2021, 09:07 AM by Packard »