I am looking to revamp my kitchen. I have very dated tiles on my counters at the moment. From what I can see the tiles are on a very solid concrete counter top. I would like to remove the tiles then smooth (and treat?) the concrete leaving 'raw' concrete counter tops.

Think this is doable?

I am not looking to keep the tiles. enter image description here

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    It'd doable, but only with an obscene amount of elbow grease. I'd order a 55 gallon drum in advance. – isherwood Jan 17 '17 at 19:02
  • Question might be vague. Once removed could the adhesive that holds the tiles be sanded away to leave just the concrete? Then I just follow tips on finishing a concrete countertop. – Littlejohn Jan 17 '17 at 19:11
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    Kitchen counters? Have you pulled some of the tiles to confirm the structure is concrete? Unless you've seen the concrete, I think it's more likely to a wood frame with a cement backerboard type material that the tiles are bonded to. – mmathis Jan 17 '17 at 19:43
  • @Littlejohn, it appears that you made an edit while not logged in. Please log in and try again. – isherwood Jan 17 '17 at 19:51

As Isherwood suggested, elbow grease by the drum will be required. You can likely get the tiles off with a hammer & masonry chisel. From there, you can knock off alot of the thinset (assuming that's what they used) with the masonry chisel, but to get a presentable surface will likely require you to grind the whole thing to remove the remaining thinset.

This will be a tricky business. If you use an aggressive tool & abrasive, you risk gouges and exposing voids or aggregate in the substrate. If you go with a milder abrasive, it will take forever. In either case it will create alot of hazardous dust, and there's a good chance that whatever you find under there won't make a decent looking countertop anyway.

Are you sure this is a solid concrete countertop underneath? It's usually some kind of concrete backerboard (if you're lucky) or particle board.

If it were me and it is solid concrete underneath, I'd knock the old tile off with a chisel, grind the thinset down reasonably smooth, and set new tile on it. Maybe some of those bullnose counter-depth granite tiles.

If it's not a solid concrete substrate, tear the whole business off - tiles and all - and start from scratch.

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  • 1
    Dust is easy - grind wet, and mop it up. – Ecnerwal Jan 17 '17 at 20:01
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    My experience is that concrete under tile is usually pretty crappy and falls apart quite easily. I've never run into metal reinforced concrete and doubt that anything I've touched has been fiber reinforced. This has implications for your final countertop. (TLDR: forget your plan.) – Aloysius Defenestrate Jan 17 '17 at 20:35
  • That's a good point - unless they've done all the stuff that you'd do when making an actual concrete countertop, it's going to be garbage anyway. – CoAstroGeek Jan 17 '17 at 20:40

Yes it can be done and will save $ in the long run if done well. I use a chizzle like this for small jobs with thin set usually the tiles pop off and the hand guard can be a life saver. On larger jobs I use a air chizzle with a flat blade then I grind with a small 4-1/2" angle grinder and a home made shield connected to a shop vac that is located out side with the filter removed. (very little dust in the house) water the grass and no evidence left. I have successfully used this method on both poured non reinforced cement and backer board. The trick is to lay the chizzle almost flat at the base of the tile and a single smack will usually pop the tile loose but it takes a few tiles to get the right amount of force. I made a plastic cover that mounts on the blade guard for the grinder from the bottom of a 1 gallon clear plastic container that the shop vac connects to. I have replaced this several times over the years as the cement wears the edges away but it will usually last several jobs. I cut the hole to put the spindle off set from center so 1 edge is tight on the blade guard and the port to the vacuum close to the body, it looks funny but works great. After the job is done I just water the grass and I have not killed my grass or any of the folks grass at homes that I have done this.

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