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Tile Repair Tips

There may be times that you want to repair your tile yourself without the help of a professional tile installation team. There are several things to consider and we hope that the information below will be helpful. Whenever you do any remodeling, it is very important to be sure to save some of your tile for future repair and replacement. Cracked or broken ceramic tiles that are set over drywall are difficult to replace properly. This is because the drywall is usually also damaged and may need to be repaired first.

Remember, whenever you install new ceramic tile be sure to save some tiles in case you ever need to replace a few. It’s almost impossible to buy a new tile to match your existing one. Even if you can get the exact same brand and color, the color may be a little different than the ones they produced a few years ago.

Replacing Broken Tile

If a single tile has been cracked or chipped, you can usually repair it without having to replace the underlayment. The other surfaces are probably not damaged.

When you replace one tile, first dig out the grout around it. Do this with a special tool called a grout saw; a utility knife will also work if you do not have a grout saw. For a group of tiles, dig out around the entire section of tiles that your are going to replace.

Break the broken tile into small pieces by hitting it with a hammer and chisel or nail or something that will allow you to shatter all the tile. Be sure and wear safety glasses because small pieces of tile will be flying up in your face.

Pry out the pieces carefully and scrap off the grout and adhesive with a chisel or putty knife. If drywall is under your tile, be careful not to dig into it. Clean out all the debris and get the surface as clean as possible.

If you’re replacing a group of tiles, you should try to set them with the same type of adhesive as the original tiles. For one tile you can just use a silicone adhesive. The trick is to put the right amount of adhesive on so the tile will sit level with the rest.

Press the tile into place and clean up any of the adhesive that oozes through the joints. If you’re replacing a tile on a wall, tape it into place until it dries. Let the adhesive set up for the recommended amount of time.

Find a grout to match that of the existing grout color. If you’re only grouting a small area you can pick up a little container of premixed grout. Work the grout into the joints with a grout float; in a small area you can just use your finger.

Wipe off the excess grout and use a sponge to shape the joints and remove the grout left on the tile. This is also a good time to regrout all of the tile, especially if you’re in a shower or other high-moisture area. This will also make your repair job less noticeable.

Regrouting and Sealing Tiles

Tiles have hard, sealed surfaces. Grout is porous and absorbs water, so it can get moldy. It can even let water pass through into the wall.

Tile should be sealed periodically to prevent any moisture penetration, especially in areas that are exposed to water. If the grout is allowed to get very moldy, it should be replaced. Minor mold can be cleaned. (See Tile Care & Maintenance)

First clean the grout joints, then apply a silicone or water-based grout sealer to the joints. As long as the tile is glazed it’s ok if you get some sealer on the tile surface, but be sure and wipe it off before it dries.

In show areas and other areas where it is wet, if the grout lines have cracked there is a good chance that water has seeped through to the underlayment. If your underlayment is drywall, there is probably some damage and it may also need replacing.

Cracks in dry areas probably mean settling of the underlayment or shifting with temperature changes.

Be sure and clean out the old grout and vacuum or brush out any dust or dirt from the joints prior to replacing with new grout. Use a cleaner to remove any dirt, oil or soap scum. Be sure and allow the cleaner to dry before adding any new grout.

It is best to use a mildew-resistant grout with a latex additive to grout the joints. When you are finished, be sure and clean the tiles off with a sponge and let them dry.