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Question DetailsAsked on 11/3/2013

Can you remove 2000 sq ft of existing tile and reuse it?

I've just had my 2000 sq ft home tiled and at least 80% of the tiles are hollow, many aren't flush and the grout lines aren't all the same width. At this point, they've only grouted 1 room. How effective will it be for the contractor to pull up the tile without damaging it and reuse it? If they can, what is the expected time frame it will take for them to do that? Would it be more cost effective for them to demo the entire floor and purchase new tile? I paid $5.06 per sq ft. for the tile, plus installation.

Also, what is the normal expected time frame to install 2000 sq ft of tile?

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3 Answers


If you have that many poorly bonded tiles it may be possible to pop them up to save most of them, some may break but at $5 a SF it might be worth a try. If you have to buy more tile it may not match due to being a different lot number though. As far as time it is hard to say but to be honest that should not be your problem, the tile installer should do it for free unless he can prove it was not his fault. If he got defective thinset or another trade walked on it too soon. I had a case where tile I installed had defective glazing and it did no show till we started grouting the bathroom. You could look at the tile under any type of light or angle and it looked fine. My supplier asked me to bring in a sample section of the wall and agreed the tile was bad. He paid for the demo, new sheetrock, tile and installation. It sounds more like a bad installation to me and I hope you held enough money back from the installer.


Answered 6 years ago by ContractorDon


Question 1 - if he did this bad a job the first time, what makes you think it will go better the second time around. Sounds like he just does not know what he is doing.

It is possible to pop up poorly bonded tile like it sounds you have - my initial guess is he did not presoak the tiles properly, so the thinset did not bond, or he used thinset designed for porous ceramic and quarry tile on percelin tile. In addition to popping the loose ones up with a suction cup or by carefully running a putty knife underneath, using a grout grabber blade or similar on a sawsall or high-frequency oscillatory multipurpose tool, you cann undercut an inch or so all around in a few seconds per tile, which makes popping tiles up undamaged more likely. Whether it can reasonably be done depends on labor time, probably about $40/manhour, so more than 8 SF/hr recovery rate would pay off - if they are going to pop up, based on personal experience removing defective tile by other contractors, I would say 25 SF/hr would be a reasonable production estimate for the ones that are going to pop up, or about a week for 2 men, so it might pay IF you trust the tile to be intact and reusable, which I would not count on personally.

Therefore, in this case, I would be calling his bond and demanding an experienced tile layer handle the redo - including demolition or recovery at the new contractor's discretion. If the new contractor is like me, he would not accept reused tiles - too many chances of hidden cracks, both from popping them up and from walking on improperly bonded tiles. Also, some will be broken, so unless you carefully segregated by room in relaying them, you would have batch color mismatches in the tiles between the ones you remove and the new replacements you will have to order to replace broken ones.

I hope he was bonded, and I certainly hope you have not paid him much, because it will be hard to get it back out of him.

Bear in mind also, having a new contractor pick up the job WILL cost more than the original bid - because he has to remove the tile, clean the surface at least of loose thinset and maybe mud coat, then start from scratch. Worse news - I would bet this guy was low bidder from the quality of his work, so the new work may cost significantly more than his bid - meaning the original contractor's bond may not cover the replacement cost.

So, all in all, hate to say it but I would guess you are ultimately going to need an attorney to help negotiate this out and try to recover at least most of the replacement work cost from the bonding company.

Oh - you asked how long to lay 2000 SF of tile - assuming no subfloor reinforcement is needed, I would figure this as a 3 week job assuming you are using 6x6 or larger tiles but would tell you 4 - this is a pretty big job, and ust the joint grouting alone is going to be a several day job for two men.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD


As LCD said and I also stated the colors may not match but the floor has to come up one way or the other since you need a sound surface for the new tile to be installed. You might actually save money by doing the job into two parts. One for demolition and one for install. There are interior demolition companies and while the lower paid crews they used may not be able to save as many tiles it might pay off in the long run in labor savings. You could the carefully select a tile installer for the finish work.


Answered 6 years ago by ContractorDon

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