How to Clean the Back of Used Tile Before Reinstalling


Undamaged used tiles can be installed in a new location. But before you apply new adhesive to secure the tile you must first remove the old adhesive. Mastic, the adhesive used to secure many types of tile, is easy to clean with a little solvent designed to dissolve mastic. Mastic solvents can be caustic. Be sure to follow all of the manufacturer's instructions and warning when handling them.

Things You'll Need

  • Mastic remover
  • Paint or mastic scraper
  • Wire brush
  • Scrape the majority of the mastic off with your scraper.

  • Apply the mastic remover to the back of the tile according to the manufacturer's instructions.

  • Let the mastic remover sit and work for the amount of time recommended by the manufacturer (usually 10 to 15 minutes).

  • Scrub the mastic away with a wire brush.

  • Rinse the tile with water to remove any residual mastic remover.

Tips & Warnings

  • Some tiles are set with thin set which is a type of concrete. The only way to remove thin set from the back of old tiles is to grind it down with an electric sander. However, you are unlikely to encounter used tiles that were adhered with thin set. It is nearly impossible to remove those tiles without breaking them.

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  • Photo Credit tile layer image by Greg Pickens from
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