Tiles soaking. Ew!
As with everything at the Little Stone House, I kept the tiles that my boyfriend ripped out of our upstairs tub surround. Many of them had to be tossed, but we ended up with close to 200 tiles that can be reused. First, I had to clean them!
In order to do this, I found it was easiest to soak them in non-chlorine bleach for a couple of days and then scrub them with a paste made from water and the same non-chlorine bleach. (Wear gloves!) I did this using an old toothbrush--another item we recycle and repurpose around the house. It's important, finally, to make sure that you completely clean out the sink you use when you are finished. It's nasty work, and non-chlorine bleach can be just as hazardous as chlorine bleach, even though it is easier on the environment!
Cleaned tiles, set out to dry
When cleaning them, you want to scrub off as much of the paper backing, mastic, etc. as you can, and you can't forget to scrub the edges of the tiles, where adhesive might still be stuck on. I found that most of the mastic and such came off with a little elbow grease. Most of what is still stuck to these tiles is just the paper from the drywall backing. (The person who put in the tub surround used regular, old green board, which did not hold up to moisture very well!)
The fact that not all of the mastic came off means that they can't be reused for a job like a tub surround, but we are finding other uses for them. The first thing my partner did was he used some in the cubbyhole where our new dishwasher went in. He did not stick them down. He simply lined the cubby floor with them, which brought the dishwasher up to the height it needed to be. While it's not a perfect fit, it now fits as well as we need it to!
There are tons of potential uses for these. We will keep them on hand, as long as we can store them without cluttering up our space. We might use them as plant coasters or under furniture to keep from scratching up the floor or raise the height of the furniture. We may use them to line shelves we make. The important thing is we have kept them out of the waste stream, which is always a huge goal in our world!