Originally Posted by TJ Carr
(hopefully as I've never replaced shower/tub tiles before, but it's a straight forward job) since we had a few loose tiles & I started that job a hour or 2 before the downstairs shower took a dump
You might want to hire a tile setter to remove the loose tiles. This job can be a land mine. Not only can a chunk of the tile backer board come off with the tile, but the reason why the tiles are loose may be because the drywall they're stuck to has gotten wet and deteriorated, so that it's not sturdy enough to support the tiles properly any more.
If it turns out that you find wet tile backer behind those loose tiles, and you don't know where the water is leaking in, you might have to install a cheap tub surround over that tiling to prevent further water penetration into the wall.
I've done more than my share of ceramic wall tiling, and I expected that removing some tiles would be a fairly straight forward job, too. What I didn't expect was that the thin set I had used to set the tiles would be stronger than the backer board (Wonderboard) I set the tiles on.
If your tiles are set on plaster, you're probably OK. If the tiles are set on drywall, I'm not sure what to expect. However, if they're set on either Wonderboard (or a similar cement board) or DenShield, then I'd be very concerned that you're going to take the surface off the tile backer board off, and potentially wreck the tile backer behind the tile when you take that tile out. For this reason, I'd pay the $60 or whatever to have someone cut the tiles to pieces and remove them so that you can then remove the thin set or mastic and set new replacement tiles yourself.
In my case, when I went to chisel the old tile out, it took a chunk of the Wonderboard tile backer with it. As you may know, Wonderboard gets it's strength from the fiberglass mesh on both the front and back sides of it, and with that fiberglass mesh missing on the front, the Wonderboard had no strength to speak of where I wanted to set the new tile. I ended up painting the wonderboard there with a liquid epoxy (the same kind you use on rotted wood) to be absorbed into the cement, and cure there, thereby strengthening that cement. Then I allowed time for that to cure and applied a paste epoxy over that to build the surface back out to where the original Wonderboard surface had been. Once that was hard, I used mastic to set a new tile onto that epoxy.
However, next time I have to replace a wall tile, I'll pay someone to remove the old tile(s) for me so that I don't turn what seems like a small job into a great big one. Tile setters have done this job enough to know how to do it without creating a new problem by wrecking the tile backer, and it's worth paying them to remove the old tiles so that the rest of the job goes off without a problem.
Maybe I just had a bad experience, and maybe things will go completely differently for you. I just wanted to let you know that taking wall tiles off CAN result in big problems too, and you don't want to have both bathrooms out of commission.