Inching Along

A tedious aspect of restoring the upper stair landing are the pink 1950 motel bathroom tiles in one corner. The plastic tiles pop off easily, but not the glue under. This has to be chipped off, revealing 1894 plaster under. So, chip chip chip away while listing to Grant on Audible books.


It fascinates me to think of the person who applied the glue 69-years ago, having no idea that all their work would be chipped off in 2019, an age of computers, smart phones, blogs, marriage equality, and a reality TV star in the Oval Office.




  1. Ramona on March 3, 2019 at 9:10 pm

    It will be so lovely to have those gorgeous windows no longer accosted by that neon green and the plastic tiles! If I was there I would be happy to help you chip away. More power to you!

  2. Desiree on March 3, 2019 at 9:13 pm

    Are you using an oscillating saw to remove the glue? I have used one quite successfully with a wide variety of glues in similar situations – might be helpful?

  3. David Franks on March 4, 2019 at 12:25 am

    Is the black residue in the lower right corner, directly under the glue, some kind of moisture-proof coating?

    Your patience and diligence transcend my nature, and the gamut of pursuits to which you apply them far exceeds my talents.

  4. Seth Hoffman on March 4, 2019 at 8:44 am

    I was going to suggest heating it to soften it, but that would likely make it gummy and harder to remove. Perhaps chilling it to make it more brittle would make the work easier? Maybe a bit of dry ice?

    I like the idea of an oscillating tool with knife blade attachment.

  5. Marilyn Moon Franks on March 4, 2019 at 8:53 am

    Just can’t believe all the wonderful changes you have made on that landing. It just takes my breath away.

    • Ross on March 4, 2019 at 10:05 am

      Thank you, Marilyn!

  6. Architectural Observer on March 4, 2019 at 1:08 pm

    I had that same problem with tile glue in a previous house. I cheated and rather than remove all of it, just skimmed over it with joint compound. It feathered neatly into the surrounding wall. No one was the wiser after it was painted!

  7. Mike on March 4, 2019 at 5:00 pm

    I don’t envy you…my parents built the house I grew up in in 1958/59, and the single bathroom was floor-to-ceiling pink plastic tile. In the late 80s I helped my uncle remodel that bathroom, and after a frustrated morning of chipping, scraping, sanding, etc, we had cleared an area around 4′ square. After lunch, we pulled all the sheetrock off the walls and put up new. That isn’t an option for you, tho…

  8. Éric Davignon on March 4, 2019 at 7:37 pm

    Have you ever heard of this: “Surf-Pro GlueBuster” it’s a construction glue stripper, and works like a paint and varnish remover.

  9. Linda on March 6, 2019 at 10:00 am

    That looks like mastic, rather than glue. Mastic would have been the preferred process for tiling in the 1950s. A quick google search produces a variety of mastic removers. My father, a tile setter in the ’50s and ’60s used gasoline as a solvent, but I wouldn’t recommend it today!

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