Removing glue (not grout) from tile

Jean Glasgow
by Jean Glasgow
I recently removed a slab of granite or marble from the front of my fireplace. What was beneath it was some terracotta colored ceramic tile. It is covered in some kind of adhesive that feels hard and rough, like grout and is an ugly brownish color. I would like to save the tile, if possible. Is there any way to remove the adhesive?
  4 answers
  • MaryStLouis MaryStLouis on Dec 20, 2014
    The adhesive is probably Liquid Nails, a common construction glue that is very strong. You have a few options with this. Try soaking the glue in Goo Gone before scraping it away. I went to the Liquid Nails website and they have posted these tips: How To Remove LIQUID NAILS Adhesive Products from Building Materials: In general, LIQUID NAILS construction adhesive and caulk products can be scraped off when they are softened either by:Heating above 140°F with an electric heat gun or blow dryerCoating the adhesive with petroleum jelly or mineral spirits for several hours to several days (NOTE: Mineral spirits are not recommended for tub surrounds, whether vinyl, plastic, painted or varnished.)If building materials are bonded, you must separate the items as explained below before removing the construction adhesive.What you'll need:Windshield cut-out wire (also called music wire), available at most automotive parts storesSafety gloves and/or handles for the wire to keep hands from being cutSafety goggles or a face shieldTwo screwdrivers to prop parts into an open positionWire cuttersWhat you'll do:Cut a length of wire about two or three feet longer than the width of the part to be removed.Starting at one corner, work the middle of the wire under the edge of the part.If using handles, connect them to the wire. If not, be sure to wear heavy safety gloves to protect your hands.Saw back and forth with the wire, using moderate pressure. This should start to cut the construction adhesive. After a few inches have been cut, use the screwdrivers to prop open the gap. This helps prevent thermoplastic adhesives from re-adhering, which can happen as friction causes significant warming of the adhesive.Continue sawing, moving the screwdrivers as you go. Continue until the part is loose and can be removed.Scrape away residual construction adhesive. If the adhesive is too hard to scrape, apply a light layer of baby oil, wait an hour, then scrape. Repeat if necessary. NOTE: Do not use baby oil or any other softening material if painting of the surface is planned, as it will stain.
  • Nancy Magnuson Nancy Magnuson on Dec 21, 2014
    I need help too. I made a very large broken ceramic tile mural with young kids. We used mastic adhesive to attach the tiles to brick. The kiddos (3rd graders mostly) had a lot of trouble keeping the adhesive off their gloves therefore we have fingerprints and some overflow chunks dried on the tile. I need to remove this before I can grout. I've tried steelwool and citrus-type cleaner and with a lot of scrubbing it loosens the thin spots. this mural is 15' x 9' so looking for best method. anyone have experience with mastic adhesive removal?
    • MaryStLouis MaryStLouis on Dec 21, 2014
      @Nancy Magnuson There are a number of citrus-based cleaners on the market that are touted to remove mastic. I have heard that Citrus King Mastic Remover works well but have no personal experience with it.
  • Tamir DuCharme Tamir DuCharme on Dec 21, 2014
    can you use a razor knife to scrape off?
  • Nancy Magnuson Nancy Magnuson on Dec 21, 2014
    Thanks MaryStLouis for your suggestions. I found some reviews for one sold at Home Depot called Ready Strip Mastic Remover made by Back to Nature. It sounds like it can be rolled on with a paint roller, left to soak in and soften mastic. The razor knife might be a good tool once it is softened. It sounds like it is non-toxic. I have a job. Here is a photo of the mural.
    • MaryStLouis MaryStLouis on Dec 21, 2014
      @Nancy Magnuson That mural is gorgeous! I can see why you want to be careful. Please update us with your eventual solution. Well done!