I have one of those nightmare chores I've been putting off way too
long. An elderly parent's 30 year old tile bathtub surround is falling
apart. Regrouting would have been fairly easy if she hadn't plugged up
some chinks with tube caulk over the years.
I just want to know if I bought a Dremel Tool if it would work on this
plastic-y substance. Should I but a name brand Dremel if I buy any?
Is there anything wrong with a cheaper knock-off (I know the rpms).
You can use it as an excuse to the wife to buy one but scraping with a
pointed tool or a V-blade wood carvers chisel would be quicker followed up
with a vinegar and baking soda solution to remove soap scum. Any attachment
you put on a dremel tool would only heat up and then gum up. The Dremel tool
may be handy for hard to reach quick jobs but using one for any period of
time would greatly reduce it's life. They are not meant for this type of
Ceramic tile, you will easily ruin the tile when it slips out of the
grout joint, likely the backing is ruined from moisture and regrouting
may not do it. Caulk use a razor blade, on grout a hand grout saw.
I would think that a utility knife would remove the caulk easily, and a
grout removal tool is very cheap and easy to use and will throw much
less debris around than the dremel.
Some food for thought - if the tiles aren't loose and it's just a grout
problem, have you considered just covering it with a tub surround?
They're pretty easy to install, look good if you do a decent job on it,
and can come with all sorts of shelves and hanger bars molded in.
What do you mean "falling apart"? Tile falling off? If it is, and
wallboard exposed, you may need to replace the damaged wallboard. A
razor blade scraper takes caulk off tile nicely. Do tile surface with
razor scraper, then go with your Dremel. I replaced grout in our shower
recently, used the Dremel tile attachment and tips. Worked very nicely.
Wore out or broke two tips - our tile has a few places where the tile is
too close to allow the Dremel tip in, so it grabbed. The Dremel also
sucks in a lot of the dust - hubby cleaned it out and covered the
opening with duck tape for the rest of the job.
I wouldn't recommend this, covering the air vents on the dremmel is a
good way to burn out the motor. The vents need to be open to keep the
motor from overheating. Dust is also bad for it, but I not as bad as
heat. If you're really set on using a dremmel still, use a shop-vac to
suck up the dust as you cut. You can even get creative and duct-tape
the vac-hose to the dremmel (careful not to block the air holes) so
it's right next to the work and you can use both hands to attempt to
control the dremmel and keep from chipping tiles.
Since you are working with caulk on tile and (presumably) a cast iron
tub, I would think that using a heat gun to soften the caulk and a
knife to cut it out should work. Follow up with acetone to get the
rest. It worked for me. If you happen to have anything plastic in the
immediate area you can't use the heat gun.
Gee, thanks everybody. I never expected to get so many intelligent
responses. I bought that grout scraper and the tiny hand tool (like a
razor blade), but the heat gun is a good suggestion.
There *are* tiles that are loose, and I'm worried that I'll seal mold
in. Maybe I'll use that as an excuse to talk Mom into tearing down the
whole dang ugly avocado tile and putting up that surround.
On 15 Dec 2005 15:30:42 -0800, " email@example.com"
Now see your post after I reply.
I bet the loose tiles are all along the tub, right?
Carefully remove them, and spend a few hours removing all the glue
from the backs of them with a scraper. If the plaster is still
relatively solid, use some spackle and fix it. If it's all mushy, you
can carefully replace the bottom foot, or half foot of plaster using
greenboard, and spackle. Then glue all tiles back on and regrout the
whole walls. (paint the mold with bleach)
I agree. One slip and the tiles or tub will be scratched. Use a
utility knife, firm paint scraper or putty knife, and buy a grout
removal tool for about $10. Prepare to spend hours on the job, but
replacing the tiles would take even more work and expense, so grin and
bear it. (Unless you are one of the wealthy sledge hammer types like
the people on "This Old House", who just wreck everything right down
to the to the framing and start over with all new walls, fixtures,
plumbing ,etc. )
If any tiles fall off, just reglue them (assuming the wall is solid
I agree the Dremel should not be used for caulk removal, but is very
nice, fairly easy to use for renewing grout. Have to watch out for
spots that are narrower than the bit, as it will chip there when it
grabs into the tile. I forget the size of the bit - 1/16? I debated
between the tile saw and Dremel, and my over-sixty muscles don't like
that much work. Smushing in the new grout was tough enough. The OP
makes the wall sound like he needs to go down to the studs and get new wall.
The last time I was in Home Depot I saw something in the
caulking/sealer/adhesive aisle that removes caulk. Comes in the same
style tube. You apply it to the caulk and I guess it dissolves it.
Not sure if it was just for latex.
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