Repairing Broken Tiles

Sara Miller
Posted in:
Cleaning & Maintenance

Whether you have a ceramic, porcelain, natural stone, or marble tile, you might experience a cracked tile that needs to be replaced. Fear not: in just 45 minutes, you can replace a broken tile. Here's how you do it:

1) Apply painters tape around the adjacent tiles to protect them. 

2) Shatter the broken tile using a chisel and hammer. Use goggles to prevent eye injury.  

3) Drill evenly spaced holes into the tile's broken sections with a 1/4-inch ceramic bit. This helps free the pieces from the underlaying floor and makes them easier to remove.

4) Once you've removed the pieces of tile you should scrape off any remaining grout and adhesive.

5) Once the surface is clean and even, you can begin installing the replacement tile. If you are just replacing a single tile a standard silicone adhesive can be used. However, if you are doing a multiple tile replacement it would be best to use the same adhesive as the rest of the wall. For the best results try to apply just enough adhesive to ensure the replacement will be level with the existing tiles. Now you can press the tile(s) into place, wipe off any excess adhesive on the surface and tape the tiles in place to allow it to set. Follow the manufacturer's instructions on the length of time to let the adhesive set.

6) Once the adhesive is dry, regrout the joints adjacent to the new tile. Match the new grout to the existing grout, and you may be able to get the right shade available pre-mixed. Excess grout should also be wiped off with a sponge. This is a great time to regrout all your tiles, refreshing the appearance and making the repair less noticeable.

7) Apply a silicone or a water-based grout sealer. If you get grout sealer on the actual tiles it should be wiped off prior to drying. If there are cracks in your existing grout, it may mean a possible moisture penetration and damage of your underlayment.

Proper maintenance of your tiles and grout is the best way to prevent any need for repair, as well as ensuring that your tile walls retain their beauty for years to come. If you have recently installed ceramic tile on a wall or in your bath, save the leftover tiles for future repairs. 

Expert Tip: One of the major difficulties in repairing a tile is matching the existing shade with a new tile. The second difficulty is the drywall behind the tile. If it has also been damaged you will need to have the drywall repaired before installing the replacement tile, and you may want to have this done by a professional.

More Resources:

This Old House, "How to Replace a Broken Tile"

For Dummies, "How to Replace a Broken Ceramic Tile"

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