Replacing one or two chipped or cracked ceramic tile may seem like an arduous task, but with a little care, the process is actually quite simple. The hardest part may be just locating the spare tiles you know are somewhere in the basement.
IMPORTANT: If you have damage to more than one or two tiles, we do not recommend installing tile on your own. Installation of a tile floor requires knowledge, experience and the right tools. We hear horror stories of DIY tile installations…most of which we need to replace. So, if this is more than just a repair of one or two tiles, be sure to contact your local Flooring America store and talk to a flooring expert about your needs. Doing this on your own my turn out to be more than you can handle and may also void any warranties that may be available on your existing tile floor.
Begin with a grout saw, and cut through the middle of the grout joint on all sides of the damaged tile. Be sure to saw completely through the grout, as this will prevent the surrounding tiles from being damaged by the compression forces of the chisel and hammer used to break out the damaged tile. With smaller tiles, where the joint is less than 1/8″ in width, the grout can be cut using a razor knife.
Using a hammer and a masonry chisel with a one to two inch wedge, tap the weakest corner of the tile until the corner breaks free. It is best to do this with the chisel at a slight angle. Using this empty space as your starting point, place the chisel under the exposed lip of the broken tile, and tap gently but firmly until the tile begins to give. Break off successive sections of the broken tile, but don’t force this process or you run the risk of chipping or cracking the adjacent good tiles. Keep repeating this process until the entire tile has been removed.
Next, put a little water in the cavity, and allow the dried thinset (a mortar used to set tile over various surfaces) to soak for about fifteen minutes; this will help to soften it. Again, using the hammer and chisel, break off small chunks of thinset until the slab (subfloor) below is fully exposed. Finally, a small razor scraper can be used to scrape the floor clean.
Next, mix the new thinset mortar adhesive, following the manufacturer’s instructions. With just one tile, you will not need a great deal of tile adhesive. Be sure to use the adhesive immediately, as it has a working time, after which it gets too thick and pasty. Using a notched trowel, spread the adhesive onto the floor, creating an even thickness of adhesive. At this point, simply press the new tile into the adhesive, and level it with the surrounding tiles by laying a 2×4 covered with carpet across the old and new tiles, and then tapping firmly with a rubber mallet.
The final step is to apply the grout. If you are replacing a large tile, then sanded grout should do fine, but smaller tiles require unsanded grout as the spacing between them is so small. Mix the grout and using a rubber float spread the grout over the seams, pressing down to make sure it fills the joints. Using a clean sponge and cool water, immediately wipe away the excess grout, without wiping it away from the grout joints as well. When the job is complete, the grout line should be slightly below the tile surface.
Allow the tile and grout to set for 24 hours. It is usually a good idea to keep the area clean until the grout has fully cured. This prevents any pieces of dirt or other particles from getting lodged in the grout.
Flooring America has an extensive offering of ceramic tile! Contact us today to select the perfect tile for your home or business.