We are renovating our kitchen, and have to replace some tiles on the wall (e.g. some have holes where the old faucet was). I would like to "harvest" some good tiles from behind a closet, where they are not visible.

How can I remove the tiles without destroying them? The tiles are quite old (~1960s?) and laid in thick-bed mortar. They are not glued. On one wall the mortar is > 1/2 inch thick, on another wall it seems to be thinner. It's OK if a couple of tiles break, I only need to salvage about four tiles. In case it makes a difference, the house is in Germany.

I've been thinking about using a Dremel to very carfully remove the mortar from the gaps, and then try to scrape out the mortar from behind. I could imagine it might help to heat the tile, to wet the mortar, or to glue something on the tile to prevent breakage, but these things might also make it worse. Any ideas?

  • What are the tile dimensions? – The Evil Greebo Aug 7 '18 at 13:15
  • How do you feel about cutting a hole in the closet where you want to harvest the tiles? – The Evil Greebo Aug 7 '18 at 13:15
  • If the tiles are set with mortar/ thin set I have had some luck with a masons chisel just slightly narrower than the tile, the first tile usually breaks but once you can get under one side they will pop off in one piece depending on the type of tile. If put on with mastic I have only had luck by cutting a section out and soaking in water for a couple of days, adding some jet dry for dishwashers to the water helps when soaking but cleaning the mastic off is a pain in the back side. – Ed Beal Aug 7 '18 at 14:13
  • @EdBeal in my limited experience it depends on how well it was installed. Well installed tile is almost impossible to remove w/o breaking. :( – The Evil Greebo Aug 7 '18 at 14:16
  • I have pulled many well installed tiles on quite a few jobs over the years , mastic takes a few days to become soft even on backer board but is easier on sheetrock. I have found with thin set it is more dependant on the type of tile, natural stone cracks really easily, clay is 50/50 and porcelain I have had the best luck with. – Ed Beal Aug 7 '18 at 14:21

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