How To Remove Dried Thinset From Tile In 4 Simple Steps!

You’ve had your tiles installed a couple of days ago. But the tilers did a bad job and now you’re stuck with dried thinset. That too is all over your beautiful tiles. So, now you have to take matters into your own hand to clean it out!

So, how to remove dried thinset from tile?

In order to remove dried thinset, you’ll first need to wear protective equipment. Then, use water, a sponge, and a lot of force to scrape the thinner layers. After that, soak the tiles in muriatic acid for a while to finally get rid of thinset. Alternatively, you can use power tools as well. 

We’re only getting started. We have more details that might intrigue your interest. So, why not read along?

Let’s go!

Why Is Thinset Used In Tiles?

You’re probably wondering why thinset is used in tiles in the first place. Well, thinset is used to make the grip between the tile and the board stronger. 

Moreover, this also prevents moisture from seeping through the wood and the tile as well! So, the chances of mold growing become slim. 

Furthermore, thinset is one of the strongest grippers you can use. So even warm water can’t disrupt the latex and polymer additives. Hence, those long hot showers won’t even budge the tiles.

Now that you know why thinset is important, we can proceed to the next segment. 

How To Remove Dried Thinset From Tile

The Easiest Guide On How To Remove Dried Thinset From Tile

So, how do you get dried thinset off tiles? Well, we have listed a 4 step procedure to help you take it off. Even for your Saltillo tiles, you can use the same technique.  

Now for you to get started cleaning, you’ll need a couple of tools. We have listed those down below. You can get started on the cleaning process using this!

Necessary Tools

Listed below are the things you need to make sure you have. Take a look!

  • White vinegar
  • Sponge.
  • Muriatic acid. Here i’ve talk about Muriatic Acid in details
  • Plastic container
  • Stick
  • Brush
  • Respirator
  • Safety goggles
  • Gloves
  • Elbow grease
  • Angle Grinder
  • Diamond Cup Grinder Wheeler
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Gathered all of these? That’s amazing! We can now finally get into the process of removing dried thinset.

Step 1: Removing The Thinnest Layers Of Thinset

The easiest part of this task is to remove the thinnest layers. So, it’s best if you start with that. So firstly, soak the thinset with water. This will help the thinset to loosen up by seeping into the mortar. 

After that, you can scrub the tile with a sponge. Elbow grease can assist you to remove as much mortar as possible. Moreover, if you’re planning on mattifying your tiles, this is a great start.

Instead of sponges, you can also use a putty knife. Using it scrape away as much thinset as you can. After you’re done removing the thinnest layers, let’s check out how to remove the thicker ones.

Step 2: Breaking Down The Thicker Layers Of Thinset

Now this part of the process might be a little tedious and time-consuming. That is removing the hard and thick thinset. So, you need to be a bit patient with the procedure. 

Now in a spray bottle, mix vinegar and water. Pour it all over the tile surface. Make sure to get the grout lines as well. Once that’s done, allow the vinegar water to soak in for about 5 minutes. 

You should then see the thicker layers of thinset are starting to come apart. After that, using a sponge you can clean off the entire area.

Now for this process to work properly you need the best kind of sponges. So here we have some of the top recommended products for the best grout sponge ones.

Product 1Product 2
 Carrand 40102. QEP 70005Q-6D Sponges.

Using this you can get the job done seamlessly. Let’s now go ahead and check out how we can get rid of the thinset! 

Step 3: Removing The Thicker Layers Of Thinset

Now things brings us to the most important part of this segment. After you’ve broken down the larger layers, the remaining thinset is ready to be removed.

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Before you start, wear protective gloves, mask, and goggles as you’ll be dealing with Muriatic acid. Then, you’ll need to start by cleaning out the grout lines between tiles. Otherwise, the debris that is present will get in the way of removing mortar.

Once you’re all set, pour 4 liters of water into the plastic container. Then, cautiously pour a cup of muriatic acid into it. Thoroughly stir the mixture with a stick. 

Now grab the brush and dab it with some of the mixtures. Start applying on the tiles. You should see the thinset is coming off. Scrub it off with the sponge. After taking this you’ll have a clean set of tiles.

And that’s basically how to remove hardened thinset from tiles.

Step 4: Removing Stubborn Thinset

Now you’ll only need to use this process if the previous step didn’t get the job done! Here we’re going to use power tools to get the remaining thinset out of the tile.

Note: Cover all the possessions in the room before you start this process. Otherwise, all your furniture might get dirty!

Alternatively, you might slightly moisten the area with a water spray bottle. This will reduce the quantity of dust stirred up. However, make sure to not get water on the grinder motor.

Now you have to adjust the settings of your equipment. Equip a 15 cm diamond cut wheel to an 11-inch angle grinder. After that, to the grinder, you have to connect a 3-horsepower wet-dry vacuum. 

After that, insert the hose through the dust shroud hole. Next, get to work with the grinder by going up and down. You should go about 2-3 ft at a time. 

In case you aren’t comfortable using power tools, you can opt for sandpaper. For the process using 120-grit sandpaper and an orbital sander at minimum setting. Apply minimum pressure to the thinset and it’ll start to come off slowly.

Make sure you’re gentle with the process, otherwise there’s a chance you might scratch the tiles. Now using a dry cloth, polish the entire surface. After that, you’ll be able to see that the tiles are smooth and thinset free.

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How To Clean Up After Removing Thinset?

Now you know how to remove dried thinset from tile surface! It’s now time to clean the place of all the dirt.

First, clear away any large chunks of thinset and other debris. Keep a trash can nearby to help speed up the process. 

Now, sweep away dust and tiny debris using an outdoor broom. Using such a broom will work the best in such situations given its stiff bristles. You might also get out the dark shadow of grout on your white tiles.

After sweeping up as much dust as possible, vacuum the surface thoroughly. This will help to remove every speck of dust and make the area spotless. And finally, mop up the floor so that there isn’t any mortar dust lying around. Voila! You’re done!


Question: How is Muriatic acid dangerous?

Answer: Muriatic acid can cause serious chemical burns when it comes in contact with your skin. Even breathing it might cause irritation to your respiratory tract. So, exercise caution while using the acid and wear protective gear at all times. 

Question: How do I remove dried thinset from the wall?

Answer: Firstly, angle your putty knife’s blade at a 45-degree angle. Then you have to pound on the end to chisel off the thinset The dried thinset will start to come off in pieces.

Question: How much will it cost to buy the power tools needed for this job?

Answer: Angle grinders and Diamond Cup Grinder Wheelers are relatively inexpensive. You’ll be able to buy angle grinders for $30-35 dollars. And, as far as grinder wheelers are concerned, they’re priced around $20-25 dollars. 


And that’s all there’s on how to remove dried thinset from tile! We’ve tried to provide as much information as we had. Now if you feel like you need assistance with the process, you can call a professional!

We wish you all the best! Take care.

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