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kitchen beadboard wall

I recently had a great opportunity to install a bunch of bead board in a kitchen; that part of the work was reasonably easy, and a lot of fun. The difficult part was demolishing the old wall tile that was on top of the sheet rock. I want to cover both aspects, but I'll do it in two segments -- demolition and construction.

If your project will ultimately end in hanging some tile, look here for some hints.

Take a look at the gallery; it will provide a sense of the process in removing the tile from the sheet rock wall structure.

Trade your wall tile for beadboard.(click thumbnails to view gallery)

This is how it appeared before the demo process.Before my demolition began.The tools.The rock chisel, along with his good friend, the wrecking bar.Sometimes even the wrecking bar needs a little help.

First of all: safety. During the demo procedure you're going to be hacking away at the tile with a variety of simple (but very manly) tools.

Wear a good pair of gloves, preferably leather -- I started, not so cleverly, with some old cloth ones I had in my truck; after the second or third time I had to pry some slivers from my fingers with a pair of needle-nose pliers, I got the picture. Don't follow my example.

Eye protection is mandatory; if the tile slivers were bothersome in my fingers, I can only imagine how my corneas would feel about it.

I also shut the power off, in the section I was working on, in case I just happened to come across some hot lines while I was hacking away. Fortunately for me, no issues there.

The materials: None to speak of, in this part of the exercise.

The tools: Two kinds of wrecking bars, a 16 ounce hammer, a mason's rock chisel (I prefer the kind with a sturdy plastic hand guard), small and large pliers, and some roll plastic -- used to collect as much of the fine debris as possible, on the counter top. I had all of these guys in my shop, so no dinero expended here. Had I been required to buy the tools, it likely would have run me about $90.

The time involved: it took me about 5 hours to remove the tile. During about half the work, I was able to press ahead with a fair amount of speed; the balance was just nasty, getting a few square inches at a whack. That was not much in the way of fun.

The process: After placing the plastic drop cloth, I began at the right end of the walls, where I had the most access and I could get up close to the work. Initially, I just used the claws on the hammer, and when the going got tough, I would use the wrecking bars, sometimes in combination with the rock chisel, to pry the stuff from the walls.

I didn't want to do a lot of damage to the sheet rock (or drywall) underlayment, as the budget didn't allow for either the time or money to replace the backing. Patience won out over speed, and I caused very little damage to the wall or the budget. If you use the rock chisel as a base for the wrecking bar (see the gallery), you'll minimize the damage, while moving the process along nicely.

One of the routes I consistently took, along the demo road, was to crack the tile along the mortar joint "fault lines." It's much easier and faster that way: while mortar, in its hardened state, is pretty solid, it's easier to split than the tile, no question. You get bigger pieces, and it's easier to work your way around the corners of things like electrical outlets.

OK, so much for the demolition. It's easier than it sounds and, frankly, kind of boring. The fun part is in the bead board carpentry work, and some other interesting stuff I did during the course of the project. We'll hit that in Part II, next week.


  • dick

    You traded tile that didn't match for wood that doesn't. Odd taste.

  • Bethany Sanders

    We've used bead board to cover up a multiple number of sins in our old house. We still get tons of compliments on it in our bathroom, where we ran it up halfway to the ceiling, then topped with molding. Everyone says it looks original! Can't wait to see pt. 2!

  • Bill Volk

    Bethany -- thanks for the comment. I like beadboard a bunch myself; it's easy to work with and has the right "flavor" for the home I am working on.

  • Bill Volk

    The customer is always right.

  • Tim Rosencrans

    yep $10 for two sheets of drywall would have really blown the budget. I would have pulled those god awful cabinets (OK I just hate dark wood) And taken the opportunity for some refinishing. And ripped out the soffets (I really hate those) above them because lets face it there gonna go sometime. ripping out the old and adding new drywall takes pretty much no time at all in this kind of situation where you don't have to finish any of it since its being covered.
    Does look nice though.

  • jeff

    What does one do when the soffets are removed? Just mount the same cabinets up near the ceiling instead?

  • Bill Volk

    Jeff -- thanks for the question. That option sometimes will put the top shelves of the cabinets out of easy reach. I think most folks use the cabinet tops as a dishware or knick-knack display area. I invite our readers to offer their solutions.

  • 7 Comments / 1 Pages

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