Mirror Tile Removal

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Some observations that might be useful.
Dining room wall with 9' x 5' mirrored with 12" square tiles. These were stuck onto painted drywall with glue tabs at each corner. Glue tabs are 1" square. Orange-ish color, still spongy in places. They kept the tiles 1/8" off the wall. Tiles are some kind of glass about 3/16" thick. The tiles have minor flex when pushed/pulled in the center. Look like every other glass tile wall I've seen, but that's all I know about glass tiles, so YMMV.
Wife wanted them gone since we moved in but I put her off for 13 years. Then I caved for a china cabinet, which has to go on that wall, which meant I had to cave on the tiles. I don't know for sure how long the tiles were on the wall, but from paint evidence I'd bet 30-35 years.
I spent an hour or so on the net and all the advice I saw there was basically hammer with glass shards all over the place. Really nothing that I found suitable.
Since I've done body work I thought I'd try a suction cup first. Went to O'Reilly's auto parts and bought a simple push on suction cup for $5. It's 5" diameter. My son was over and he pushed it on the center of a tile, turned his head away and jerked it straight back. Tile popped right out, taking the paint on all 4 tabs and the outer layer of paper. I told him to not do more because I wanted a tarp down. A few days ago I put the tarp down and went after the rest. Popped the lower 3 rows of 9 with no breakage, then I needed to use the ladder. Wife said to wait an hour, as son was coming over.
I should have known when he put the stepladder sideways to the wall. Still haven't learned he's just not as careful as me and it's best I keep a close eye on him. He lackadaisically jerked his first tile off center, and it broke into many pieces the biggest one jumping to his chest. Minor cut on his skin right through his shirt. Glass shards all over. This is vicious glass, hard and sharp slivers. Cleaned it all up and he backed out being glass-shy, so I did the rest with the ladder properly centered.
Had him brace my back while I popped them out. No breakage. That was the only one of 45 to break. Center the cup, and jerk straight back from the wall. Immediately grab the tile and slide the suction cup off. I dropped one tile on the tarp when it came off the cup because I held it too long with the cup. Lucky it didn't break when it fell. Watch the edges, they can cut. Though I didn't - because I'm sometimes stupid - it's best to wear heavy gloves.
Because I'm sometimes stupid with confidence, I just turned my head away when I jerked, but the safe way is to wear safety glasses with side guards, heavy clothing, etc, etc. Use all due precautions. This glass is baaaad. Now that I think about, I didn't take adequate safety precautions. You should be smarter.
There was a strip of 2" x 12" pieces butting the ceiling, cut from whole tiles, each with 2 of the same tabs. I wiggled a Purdy 2" putty knife through the tabs and those came off easy.
I've cleaned away loose paint from where the tabs pulled it from the wall and I'm going to run the orbital sander over all the tab spots to level them before I spackle. That's 45 x 4 or 180 spots. One spackle coat on the spots should do it, then easy sanding, but it'll take maybe 3 primer coats before a finish coat not to show through. We'll see. My other option is to slap 1/4" drywall over it, but I won't go there. I hate hanging drywall and there's a switch box to deal with. Rather canvas or good paper over it if the spackle doesn't work out. About 15 tabs stayed on the wall. About 15 tabs pulled a bit of the plaster beyond paper. Maybe half of those will want 2 spackle coats due to shrinkage.
Reason I'm writing this now is it's easier than finishing the wall. That's why I don't know how it will turn out. Now, assuming you have similar tiles, I'm going to recommend doing what I didn't do, and didn't realize as a method until I removed the top thin strips with the putty knife. Wish I had tried this, and it might work for you.
1. Pop the first tile using a suction cup, or break it out so you can cut through the tabs and not damage the wall. 2. Use the putty knife to wiggle through 2 "revealed" tabs of an adjoining tile. Remember the tile edges are sharp and can cut you. 3. Get a special tool. Spring steel the thickness of a putty knife. I would go to a local metal fab shop and have one made up on the spot. 10-20 bucks should do it. 17-18" long with the last 3-4" bent 90 degrees. 2" wide. Wiggle that in to cut through the distant tabs. Shouldn't be a problem as the tool will flex and the tiles do flex a bit. Again, watch those sharp edges.
What you'll have is an undamaged wall with pieces of tabs all over it. They are easily scraped off with a flat razor knife. Were for me anyway.
Did I mention she made me take off the plank paneling on the lower 3' of that wall? Yep, it was on with liquid nails. I don't want to talk about that right now,
--Vic
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champion of the year. Joe G
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I've got a whole wall the width of the house with these mirrored tiles. Put them up more than 20+ years ago. Only one of them in a lower out of the way corner ever loosened up and needed to be reaffixed. Have no intention of ever wanting to remove them but if it comes to pass, your post was just what the Doctor ordered. MLD
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Tell us about thewainscoating. That is a project I have finished and I would like to hear if yours went any better than mine.
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On Wed, 8 Sep 2010 09:58:39 -0700 (PDT), "hr(bob) snipped-for-privacy@att.net"

Maybe you should tell me. The planks popped off from the liquid nails easy after I pulled the trim, which was the only part nailed. I'm going to use them between studs in the garage for shelves. There's a few places where strips of drywall paper came off but I can spackle or mud them easily enough. The big problem is the glue on the wall. Lots of it. Where it's heavy I had no problem sanding some flat with 60 grit on the orbital, but it's going to take me at least a couple hours of sanding to do all the high spots. Then I'll still have plenty of glue on the wall to sand flat. Maybe a couple more hours of sanding. Don't want to sand into the paint trying to remove all traces because I might end up with a wavy wall. I'll use Kilz for at least the first primer coat. Don't see any other way if I'm going to get a good paint job on it. Might still have to use a nappy roller and lay it on thick. What say you?
--Vic
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wrote:

An airless will give you a nice THICK coat. Let dry for fifteen minutes and go over with a thick roller if you want a nice stipple finish. You just have to mask everything within a 5 iron distance.
Steve
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Sounds pretty much like what I had to do in my CO condo dining room. It took three rounds of mudding to get the wall smooth enough for my fussy taste. I put a portable light down the wall close to the wall so that all the high spots were highlighted and mudded, used a fan to speed the drying process so I did get two coats on the first night and a final coat the second. Sanded lightly to avoid overdoing it. Then a primer, and two coats of final paint to try to match the surface appearance as closely as possible to the walls above the chair rail that had been painted at least 4 times.
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On Wed, 08 Sep 2010 13:07:08 -0500, Vic Smith

The liquid nails sanded down fine without too much effort. The 180 mirror tab spots were spackled and sanded. Two coats of Kilz covered everything well. Wall looks perfect. It wasn't nearly as bad as I thought. Kudos to my wife, who did most of the work. She might have a different opinion on how hard the job was.
--Vic
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wrote:

Tell us about thewainscoating. That is a project I have finished and I would like to hear if yours went any better than mine.
reply: YES, YES! Sad bloody stories are always more interesting. Anyone can pop off glass squares.
Steve ;-)
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If it is absolutely mandatory to get them off whole, you can get one of those wire saws, or even a stiff wire and cut through the glue. You will still break some. Or many. If they are not anything special or expensive or if you are not an anal retentive Depression Era Save Everything Including Bent Nails Type, just smash them carefully, and be done in an hour instead of a day. Be most careful of the delicate wallboard underneath so as to not make work for yourself.
What I'd do, but if you'd seen some of the girls I have associated with .................
Steve ;-)
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Yeah, smash them with a hammer, that's the ticket. <rolling eyes>
I was in the glass business for over 20 years and Vic's post is excellent advice. Especially from a DIYer!
It doesn't take a day to remove the tiles with a suction cup. Being a Pro, I could of removed them in about 15 minutes.
You did add something helpful though which is using wire in some cases.
This wire, a couple of pairs of vice grips along with a suction cup is how we removed big 1/4" plate mirrors that were difficult to remove with just the cups alone.
http://preview.tinyurl.com/32z4beq
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Apologies. Did not entirely read your lengthy tome. Thought you were asking how to. You are a better man than I, McGee. I would have done it with an automatic center punch and a shop vac. Would have never thought of a suction cup. But then, I'm on coumadin for eight years, and might have had the light bulb over the head thing after the first box of Band-Aids.
Steve ;-)
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On Wed, 8 Sep 2010 13:51:42 -0700, "Steve B"

That's why I bothered writing it down for you :-) But the longer I wait to start spackling those tab holes, the more I think cutting through the tabs, then scraping them off the wall is a better option than pulling the tiles with the suction cup. In any case there's no sense in breaking the glass. Won't save you any time. I'm just talking about the tile situation I had. Might be different for others. And I really don't want to know.
--Vic
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Glad I didn't have your problem, but if I had I would have handled it like auto glass and custom car people do. You can use a hot wire technique. The hot wire is Nichrome, fairly heavy gauge. Get it from specialty industrial houses, Amazon, others. Use a Variac voltage controller (eBay has them routinely for around $30 and up, also useful for soldering iron controls, etc.). Wire the nichrome to suitable connectors (Radio Shack), plug into controller and turn voltage up until wire glows dull red in a dark room. Bring the wire behind the segments and move around until the old adhesive gives up and be prepared to catch the segment. Just guessing, but each segment removal should not take but a couple of minutes. This technique is probably better for folks with above average skill sets, and journeyman who have to make a living. Surprisingly easy, though when you see it done.
Joe
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this http://preview.tinyurl.com/32z4beq and 2 pairs of vice grips is all you need.
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wrote:

Sorry guys. A wall of 1 foot square mirror tiles is different than auto glass. I gave the best procedures, which is suction cup popping with wall damage, or cutting the tabs with a slim jim like tool like I described, and no wall damage.
A heated wire would be a PITA and might not cut through the hardened tabs anyway. Probably not near stiff enough to reach in 12" and still cut. A long hacksaw blade might work, but the slim jim tool is much faster as you just push wiggle it through the tab. It does take a little force to get through the tabs. They're not all that soft. A cutting wire would require two open sides of the tile. You don't have open sides to work with. Put yourself in front of the wall looking at the tiles.
But thanks for the suggestions. Made me say "slim jim like" tool. Maybe because you brought up autos. I would have had a tool made up. But a slim jim might work ready-made if put on a grinder for a minute. This slim jim here looks good if touched up. http://www.keepshooting.com/lockpicks/autolockouttools /
I'd want a 90 degree bend on the end to keep my fingers away from the glass edges. Anyway, I ain't ever going to find out if a slim jim would do.. I already did the wall. And will never do another. But if I do, you'll know about it.
--Vic
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Sorry guys what? Read my other post.
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Btw, after being in the glass business for over 20 years (20 as an auto glass installer) I've never heard of anyone using a "hot wire" to remove a windshield. And that includes a very good friend of mine that was in the auto glass business for over 35 yrs.
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On 9/9/2010 6:47 PM, Joe wrote:

I don't think anyone else in this thread said it, so I will- I would have covered the wall with cheap contact paper (aka shelf liner) from the dollar store, put on welder gloves and goggles from Harbor Freight, and used the biggest putty/drywall knife I could find to pop the tiles off. Have a trash can and shop vac standing by for loose shards, and a tarp over the shrapnel zone. After emptying shop vac, go back and vacuum the room again, using a bright flashlight at a low angle to look for sparklies.
Not a fan of gluing or adhesive-stripping glass to finish walls.
--
aem sends...

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IOW, you're not a "fan" of mirrored walls that look nice?
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