How to Remove Thinset from Tile

Today, the removal of mortar from ceramic tiles is no longer a strange thing for us. There are many reasons for us to do this, such as blistering, cracking.

Tiles after being used can be reused to reduce waste and cost savings compared to buying new bricks. Luckily, the repairs aren’t as complicated and expensive as you might think.

What is Thinset Mortar?

Thinset mortar is a blend of very fine-grained cement, sand, and a water-retaining compound that allows the cement to hydrate appropriately. Thinset tile is bonded to the substrate with a thin layer of cement. The terms thin-set cement, thin-set mortar, and dry mortar are synonymous.

This cement is designed to adhere well in a thin layer – usually no more than 3/16 thick. For example, a 3/8 “notch will create a 3/16 inch thick coating after the brick is pressed against the cement. Although very small adjustments in height can be made, this method is not suitable.” to adjust the level or flatness of a surface – instead, the brick will follow the plane of the body.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) defines the properties of thin-set mortar in specification A118.1.

1. How to remove thinset mortar from tiles

How to remove thinset mortar from tiles

Preparing instruments

  • Warm water bucket
  • Soap for washing dishes
  • Clean rag
  • Scrubber machine
  • Sponges
  • Opaque
  • Mortar sweeper
  • Sanding plate 50 grit
  • Rotary sanding machine

Protective equipment – prevent injury

In the process of repair, it is challenging to avoid risks from occupational accidents. So you need to wear protective gear and prevent injury

+ Personal protective equipment:

  • Having knee pads is essential when you need to kneel for a long time on the floor.
  • Protective shoes, when working, should use closed-toe shoes.
  • They have specialized protective glasses, gloves, and clothing.

+ Injury prevention:

  • Clean up objects on the floor.
  • Wear protective clothing to avoid debris while working

Step-by-step instructions

  • Start the process by filling a bucket with detergent and filling it with warm water.
  • Dip a sponge in the cleaning solution and rub bricks and mortar.
  • Wipe the tiles with a clean cloth and dry them.
  • Scrape off the thin, dry paint using chisels or chisels on the tiles without scratching the tiles.
  • Use a mortar scraper to remove residual grout on the seams.
  • Take a 50 grit sanding plate and place it on the rotary sanding machine at the lowest setting. Gently remove the remaining thin stains on the tiles.
  • Finish off by vacuuming the area to remove excess dust.
  • Polish the tile surface with a clean cloth or a dry cloth to reveal shine and sparkle.

2. How to Remove Mortar Cement from Tiles

Due to the properties of Mortar Cement is tackier and harder to clean. Therefore, you will need to use chemicals with stronger detergents. Of course, to ensure safety when using chemicals, you need to strictly adhere to the following method.

In the case of stubborn stains that are difficult to clean, you need to use cleaning chemicals. The method and items you need to use will depend on the thickness of the grout. Follow the steps below to get rid of the thin stucco on your tiles as clean as possible.

How to Remove Mortar Cement from Tiles

Step 1: Prepare your cleaning and safety equipment

To get started, you need to prepare cleaning equipment. You will need some water, white vinegar, muriatic acid, and a sponge. It is also necessary to have a plastic container containing muriatic acid, a stirring stick, and a brush.

 Since you will likely have to use muriatic acid, you must have some safety equipment ready. Always wear a respirator, some safety gloves, and goggles. For extra safety, you can also buy a few boots and overalls.

Step 2: Remove the thinnest layers of Thinset mortar

The thinnest mortar layers are the easiest to remove. All you need for this task is water, a sponge, and a little patience.

Start by moistening the thin layer with water and allowing the liquid to seep into the grout. Once the water has had a chance to seep into the grout, you can start scrubbing off with a sponge. Add some elbow grease to the brush to remove as much grout as possible.

Step 3: Use Vinegar to remove thick mortar layers

Now that you’ve removed the thinner mortar layers, you can move on to using vinegar. You are repeating what you did in step two but replacing the water with vinegar. The acidity of the vinegar breaks down mortar better than water.

Step 4: Wear your protective gear

Before taking any final steps, you should put on your protective gear. Muriatic acid can cause an unpleasant chemical burn if it comes in contact with the skin. Even if inhaled, it can lead to irritation of your airways.

Wear the protective gear you have and keep them as long as you are using muriatic acid. You should also make sure that no one is around while you are working with the toxic substance.

Step 5: Soak bricks covered with mortar in water and Muriatic acid

Fill the plastic container with about 5 gallons of water, and then carefully pour a cup of muriatic acid into it. Carefully stir the mixture with a stick. Now, take the bricks and place them in a mix of muriatic acid and water. Let them soak for at least five minutes. After the five minutes are up, remove the bricks from the water. Now you can remove any remaining mortar by rubbing it off.

Step 6: Apply Muriatic acid directly to the tiles

If the tiles are still stuck in the thin plaster, you will have to apply muriatic acid now to them. Grab your brush and dot it with a little muriatic acid. Use it to coat the tile and then rub off the mortar when it comes off.

3. How to remove Mortar Cement from salvaged tiles

What you need

  • Bucket
  • Muriatic acid
  • Country
  • Mask
  • Protective glasses
  • Rubber gloves
  • Scrub brush

Step-by-step instructions

  • Wear your protective gear before diving deep into the cleaning process. This includes wearing eye protection and rubber gloves.
  • Fill the bucket with water and muriatic acid. Do this carefully to avoid any debris that could discolor and damage the surface.
  • Dip as many bricks as possible in the solution and let stand for five minutes.
  • Remove the pellets one by one from the mixture and scrub them with a brush.
  • Wash these tiles with clean water and let dry for 24 hours.


Thus, removing mortar from the ceramic tiles is essential when repairing and replacing the ceramic tiles. Because the mortar leftover after removing the ceramic tiles will create a rough surface on the surface, that will prevent the re-paving of the ceramic tiles so that they are flat and beautiful.

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