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When tiling the shower, we inadvertently left several tile spacers in too long and we subsequently could not remove the spacers entirely and some fragments remain stuck in the mortar and are visible. How can we remove those fragments without damaging the surrounding tiles before we can move onto the next step to begin grouting?

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    A photo might help. Note that tile spacers are installed vertically between two tiles with two of the tabs sitting on top of the tiles, not flat in a corner between 4 tiles. And when you install the tile, you should initially place it too close to the adjacent tiles and pull away so there isn't mortar pushing up between the tiles, since that can show through the grout.
    – BMitch
    Commented May 28, 2013 at 18:49
  • Two vertical per slot with one tab in the crevice for spacing, and devil take ye if ye do the common sense thing and stick a single one in the corner. "Common Sense" is a highly miserable taskmaster if you've got to dig them out. There are these curved hook tools... pretend you're Pharo's embalmer. Commented May 28, 2013 at 18:55
  • My contractor just grouted over them... Naturally we had him come back to dig them out and re-grout. Needle-nose pliers, a flat screwdriver or a grout saw (which will also break any thin-set that protrudes too much) are all good options.
    – Eli Iser
    Commented May 29, 2013 at 5:12

2 Answers 2

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No-chip technique for porcelain tiles with sufficiently large spacing

  1. Use a lighter to melt the broken spacer until it is flush with the tile. (Most plastic spacers will burn like a candle. Just light the top and wait for a few minutes.)

  2. Use a dremel with a wire brush wheel (the wheel should be thinner than the spacer) to reduce the rest of the spacer ~1/4" below the tile surface.

  3. Repeat for other oopsy-daisies.

You're welcome.

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  • Awesome tip! Any advice for safely chipping out mortar around the clip?
    – RTS
    Commented Aug 30, 2023 at 15:01
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Pull them out with pliers or tap them out with a chisel/pick/flat screwdriver and hammer. Most of the time if you clamp them with pliers and wiggle they will come out.

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    Use needle nosed pliers.
    – Michael Karas
    Commented May 29, 2013 at 3:30
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    I actually like regular pliers for this - they have more grip. With the needle nose the grip seems to twist a little bit and sometimes they break.
    – DMoore
    Commented May 29, 2013 at 5:25

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