I'm renovating a 1960 condo where all the walls are concrete. There is only one bathroom so I can't gut it all at once. There is 4x4 curved tile over an extra 1 inch+ of concrete (see the photo). The concrete under the tile needs to be removed preferably leaving flat surface for the new surround.

  1. Is it possible to remove the just the concrete under the tile to leave a flat surface withoput damaging the original concrete wall? If so, how?
  2. If not, should I rip it down the studs and just use backer board?

Concrete until shower tile



  • 1
    "All the walls are concrete" does not align with "rip it down to the studs" - are the walls concrete or are they studwalls?
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Jan 8 at 23:03
  • Sorry - that was confusing about ripping it down to the studs. It is a concrete slab wall so there are no studs. I will do as you say and attempt to remove mud-bed layer by chisel. I will then use a wire brush and grinder to clean the wall. Thank you.
    – Michael
    Commented Jan 9 at 19:43

1 Answer 1


Since that is all-but-certainly a "mud-bed" or "mortar-bed" applied over the original wall surface specifically for tiles, carefully chiseling with a wide-blade masonry chisel at a low angle (nearly parallel to the wall surface) will most likely peel it off the original wall, (if it's concrete as you state) perhaps followed by some wirebrushing to clean up.

Can't know for sure until you try it.

Wear a dust mask, and hearing and eye protection. If you don't have a HEPA-filter shop vacuum, this project on a bathroom you can't simply seal off until the work is complete would be a very good reason to buy one.

If the wall has studs, (as you confusingly also imply,) it's probably faster and more efficient to demo to the studs and apply CBU for new tile.

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