How to Install Tile so That it’s Removable

Video Transcript

Video Transcript

Most of the time, ceramic floor tile is put down with the idea of it being permanent.  If you’ve ever tried to get it up, well…you know what I mean.
[MUSIC]
Well, imagine if you could put down a tile floor that looked and performed as if it were permanent but could be easily removed, leaving no residue and creating no dust.

Well, my friend, master tile setter, Armand Tavy, has created a tile setting system that he calls “008 Easy to Eliminate” that does just that.  The key to his system is this paste compound that never dries.  Here, Armand is applying it to a concrete demonstration slab. 

He skims on a thin bonding coat, applies more compound and then using the v-notched edge of his trowel, distributes the paste evenly, leaving uniformly high rows of the material.  Next he lays fiber sheets of what he calls “Tavy Thin Skin Underlayment” on top of the non-drying paste.  Now, Armand has a surface that can be tiled using standard thin-set mortar.  In this case, he mixes it in a bucket using an electric drill fitted with a paddle mixer.

[DRILLING SOUND]

The mortar is then applied directly on top of the thin-skin underlayment, this time with the trowel having quarter inch square notches.  The square notched trowel, like the v-notched version used for the paste, creates consistently sized rows of mortar, ensuring that the entire back of the tile will be in contact with and uniformly supported by the mortar underneath.  For large tiles, like these 12 x 12 inch pieces are often back buttered as well.  This ensures a long lasting, crack-free, installation. 

When Armand sets his tiles in place he first presses them down with his hand, then slides them side to side to evenly distribute the mortar on the back.

ARMAND:
Push it to my right, push it to my left, pull it away.

RON HAZELTON:

Next, he checks for an even, smooth, surface, by passing this plastic disc over the face of the tiles.  Any high points or ridges will be detected by a distinctive clicking sound.  Then he inserts his specially designed tile spacers that will ensure each joint is straight and uniform in width.  Finally, he taps the tiles with a plastic or rubber mallet, using sideways glancing blows.

ARMAND:

Down, everything goes towards the center.  Everything towards the center.

RON HAZELTON:
Once the tile is down, it has all the strength and durability of a typical tile floor.  When it comes time to remove the tile and replace it with something else, a pry bar or putty knife is inserted between the underlayment and the concrete below.  The non-drying paste releases the underlayment from the concrete, allowing the tile to be easily and quickly pried up.  A single tile can be removed in only seconds.  Any remaining paste can be lifted off with a putty knife.  The final clean up is done with water.

A tile floor is durable and long-lasting but it can be put down in a way that makes it easy to remove.

Achieve a Removable Tile Installation with a Special Non-drying Paste Bonding Coat, Thin-Skin Tile Underlayment and Standard Thin-set Mortar

Attain the look and performance of a permanent ceramic tile installation that is actually removable tile prepared initially with a special non-drying paste bonding coat and fabric-like Thin-Skin tile underlayment from Tavy Enterprises. Applied on top of these special products, standard thin-set mortar and ceramic tile last, but lift easily with a small pry bar, minimal debris, and water clean-up.

Skim on a Paste Bonding Coat for the Removable Tile
Step 1

Skim on a Paste Bonding Coat for the Removable Tile

Use a tile trowel's smooth edge to skim a bonding coat of 008 Easy to Eliminate paste compound onto the prepared subflooring for the removable tile. Apply more and furrow it with the thin notched side of a tile trowel.

Lay Thin-Skin Tile Underlayment for the Removable Tile Bed
Step 2

Lay Thin-Skin Tile Underlayment for the Removable Tile Bed

Press Tavy Thin-Skin Tile Underlayment onto the paste and smooth with a putty knife. The fiber sheets add no additional thickness or weight to the subfloor, but bond with the paste to securely receive mortar and tile.

Mix Thin-set Mortar for the Removable Tile Bed
Step 3

Mix Thin-set Mortar for the Removable Tile Bed

Attach a paddle mixer to an electric drill and blend standard thin-set mortar in a bucket. It should be mixed to a ketchup-like consistency for the removable tile and allowed to slake for a few minutes, per directions.

Trowel Thin-set Mortar onto the Underlayment for the Removable Tile
Step 4

Trowel Thin-set Mortar onto the Underlayment for the Removable Tile

Spread the thin-set mortar over the Thin-Skin underlayment to ensure a uniform mortar bed for the removable tile. Use the notched end of a trowel with 1/4-inch square notches to rake the thin-set into consistent ridges and furrows.

Butter the Backs of Removable Tiles 12-Inches Square or Larger
Step 5

Butter the Backs of Removable Tiles 12-Inches Square or Larger

Back-butter larger tiles in the removable tile project to ensure a long-lasting crack free installation. Ensuring the hollows on the back of the tile are coated in mortar will provide the proper support and adherence to the mortar bed.

Set the Removable Tiles So That the Edges Touch Initially
Step 6

Set the Removable Tiles So That the Edges Touch Initially

Position tiles with edges touching, pressing them down by hand. Slide them side-to-side to evenly distribute the mortar, and then pull each away from the adjacent tile to keep the joints clear of excess cement. Tap with a mallet.

Find High Removable Tile Edges with a Tile Puck
Step 7

Find High Removable Tile Edges with a Tile Puck

Pass a Tile Puck over the surface to find uneven tiles, noting the click that identifies high removable tile edges as it moves across joints. Tap high edges with a rubber mallet and retest before the mortar sets.

Insert Tile Spacers between Adjacent Removable Tiles
Step 8

Insert Tile Spacers between Adjacent Removable Tiles

Ensure even grout seams between removable tiles with Tavy's two-sided tile spacers. One side of the vinyl spacers maintains the position of four intersecting corner joints, while the other keeps tile sides parallel. Tap with a mallet towards the center.

Lift Removable Tiles with a Pry Bar or Putty Knife
Step 9

Lift Removable Tiles with a Pry Bar or Putty Knife

Loosen removable tiles long after the mortar and grout joints harden. Insert a pry bar beneath the Tavy Thin-Skin underlayment to remove it as a single layer. Scrape the non-drying paste compound off with a putty knife. Clean with water.