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Question DetailsAsked on 8/26/2013

How to remove tile from drywall and plaster?

We bought a house, circa 1941, and the previous owner put up slate tile in the livingroom. Sort of like a wainscotting. Well, we hate it. How can we take it off? And can the plaster walls be fixed to show no seams if drywall is hung? We got one estimate (with painting) that was $1300 - $2200 because they said they didn't know what would be behind the walls. $2200 seems kinda high. Anyone have any experience with this? I know it's wackadoodle. Thanks!

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1 Answer


This is acrtually a pretty common job - wainscotting and half-walls were big in the 1960's-1980's, and do-it-yourself glue-on wall coverings are still "in" - see the Martha Stewart gang and all the wall coverings and "faux" coverings they promote.

IF you are sure you are going to take this off, I would take a chisel and knock a piece off - or tap around with the butt of a wood screwdriver till you hit a dummy sounding one (that means it is loose) and pull that one off, then knock a hole in the wall to see the layers. Then you will know what is behind it - could be concrete mud coat with chicken wire reinforcing over lath and plaster or drywall or homasote or base studs with felt covering, could be adhered to drywall or plaster directly, or who knows what.

Given the time frame, if it was done in the 1940's, I would give about 4:1 odds in favor of felt chicken wire, and full mud coat (concrete without the gravel, basically) directly over what was there before with a cement grout adhering the tile, because this is before the start of acrylic or "plastic" cements and thin-set. If a much more recent job (say 1960's plus), could be thin-set or "plastic cement" onto the prior surface with or without chicken wire, or if quite recent (90's plus) could be a mastic directly on plaster or drywall wall.

Once you have a hole in the wall, then contractors will know what they are looking at.

Depending on what you find, could run from about $2-4/SF removal, and probably about $5/SF to replace with drywall or with a smoothing plaster coat and paint it.

Yes - a good plasterer can make drywall seams invisible to the eye.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD

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