Looking to remove thinset / tile adhesive from the backer cement board in the tub area. I want to replace the cement board as it got damaged while removing the tiles. The problem is, the tile adhesive is left on the backerboard, making screw removal a bit of a pain. How can I remove this to get to the screws?


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I've heard grinding it off works, but if that's the case, what's an ideal tool to grind?

I did some more searching, and found a similar (ish) post to mine. It recomends one of the following:

Which is good and could be used again in the future?

Thanks, Justin W.

  • I would use the double row cup grinder to level things out. After leveled out coat with thinset, let dry and then start over with new tile. Any holes can be patched and the thinset grinds fairly quick.
    – Ed Beal
    Jan 10, 2017 at 3:35

2 Answers 2


Finding and then using those screw heads is going to be a nightmare, so I would abandon the idea of removing the wall board semi-intact. Find the studs (with one of those cryptically-named stud finders), cut the boards between the studs, and then pry it all off. Or, use an abrasive disk to cut right down the line of screws.

  • I agree, this calls for demolition. Why are you trying to save the backerboard? You won't have any luck trying to reuse it. Buy a sledge hammer and take care of it, you'll be done in an hour and ready to hang new. Jan 10, 2017 at 5:36
  • Ended up going this route. I wasn't too worried about saving the boards, just wanted to get the board out. Jigsaw worked very well in this regard, only did a foot at a time until I could remove enough insulation to verify no pipes or wires were in the way. Also, no need to pry, the nails seemed to be very loose. But no rot or any concerns that I saw. Thanks! Jan 19, 2017 at 20:01

Don't sweat grinding it off.

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Get a rare earth magnet tied to a short piece of string and when it finds a screw, it goes in its own since it is hanging off the string A 4" lead should do it. I used the to find screws in flooring underlayment that had vinyl sheet flooring over it. The one I use is about 3/8" in diameter, with a hole in the middle for a screw. The magnet went to it, I set the drill right at the spot and it would find the screw. Recenter it when needed, and remove the screw. Any good hardware store has these as well as the big box stores.

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