How to Repair or Replace Cracked Tiles
August 22, 2014.
Nothing ruins the appearance of a beautiful tiled wall or floor likes cracks, scratches and other imperfections. Luckily, scratches and other tile marks can be repaired or, if required, replaced without much hassle.
In this guide, we’ll show you how to repair common tile problem including cracks and chips. We’ll also show you how to replace tiles that are too damaged for you to repair easily.
When installing tiles
Even the most cared for tiles can become cracked, chipped and damaged. Because of this, it’s important to keep some spare tiles to use for repair jobs while you’re tiling your floor or wall.
Keep 5-10 extra tiles to use for repairs and replacements for every room or feature wall in your home you tile. This will prevent you from having to make another trip to your hardware shop (or worse, trying to source a tile that’s no longer available).
Tiles installed outside, on balconies or in very sunny rooms may fade over time due to sun exposure. In this case, your replacement tile might look slightly darker than the original. This can be remedied by storing the spare tiles in a sunny area.
Repairing small cracks
If your tile is only slightly cracked, it might be easier to repair it or conceal the crack than to replace it. Many tiles can be repaired using paint that matches the colour of the tile, concealing the track from view and preventing moisture damage.
dropped my iPhone on the tile and it cracked. pic.twitter.com/TJoYStB7
— gunar (@gunarpants) December 24, 2012
In order to repair a lightly cracked tile, you’ll need a few things:
- Oil-based primer
- Oil-based paint
- Marine epoxy
- Soapy water
You will also need a spare cloth that you don’t mind getting dirty, a towel and – for quick repair jobs – a hair dryer to speed up the drying process and make sure that no moisture becomes stuck inside the tile.
Start by cleaning the damaged tile using a damp cloth dipped in soapy water. Scrub the tile until any dirt and mud is cleaned away. Make sure that the area around the crack is completely clean.
Using clean water, lightly clean away any soap that might have stuck to the tile from your previous scrubbing. Let the tile dry or, if you’re in a hurry, use the hair dryer to dry the tile quickly.
Once the tile is dry, gently apply the primer to the cracked area of the tile. Make sure the primer is only applied to the crack – primer should not be applied to the surface of the tile.
Give the primer 2-3 hours to dry fully. Once it’s dried, lightly apply the paint along the crack in the tile. Make sure the paint you’re using closely matches the colour of the tile to avoid making the crack more obvious.
The paint will need a while to dry. Leave the tile overnight and come back 24 hours later to apply the epoxy. Gently apply the epoxy using a small paintbrush until the crack is flush with the surface of the tile – it should not extend over the tile itself.
Once the epoxy has been applied, leave the tile for at least two hours to dry. It’s best not to step on the tile for at least 24 hours so as to allow the epoxy to completely dry and set the cracked tile in place.
Replacing damaged tiles
Tiles with small cracks can often be repaired. However, tiles with large cracks might not be able to be fixed with paint and epoxy alone. If your tile is severely cracked, it’s probably best to replace it with a new one.
In order to remove a damaged tile, you’ll need to shatter it completely. Cover the tile with a cloth and smash the surface of the tile with a hammer. Make sure you can see the edges of the damaged tile and don’t accidentally strike a different tile.
If you’re removing a small tile and don’t want to use a hammer (and risk damaging the surrounding tiles) you can cut the triangle diagonally into four triangular pieces and carefully lift each piece out from the tiled flooring.
When the tile has been smashed into small pieces, remove them carefully using your hands. Some pieces may need to be removed with a chisel. Be careful of sharp edges when removing the tile and use gloves if the broken tile pieces are sharp.
Clear away dust from the empty space and apply adhesive to the tile. Make sure you use a notched trowel to spread the adhesive, as the uneven lines in the surface of the adhesive will prevent air bubbles from forming under the tile.
Let the adhesive dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions and, once it’s dry, apply tile grout to the edges of the tile. Make sure the gaps surrounding the tile are completely filled in with grout and wipe away excess grout with a spare cloth.
Once the grout is dry, use a damp cloth to clean the surface of the tile and brush the excess grout away. When finished the tile grout should be flush with the tile surface or slightly lower – it should not extend above the surface of the tile itself.
Keeping your tiles in good condition
Cracked and chipped tiles happen for a variety of reasons. If your floor comes under heavy load or frequent foot traffic, it will naturally wear over time. However, if tiles start to crack or chip even under light load, it may not have been installed properly.
Tiles installed unevenly (with some tiles placed higher than others) often crack due to the difference in pressure. Tiles that haven’t been horizontally aligned properly can also crack and chip easily, as can tiles that aren’t firmly secured to the floor.
The broken tile floor in my house can't be replaced because it was made in 1940? What?
— Damian Fetscher (@Damian_Fetscher) August 19, 2014
The best way to ‘fix’ cracked tiles is by installing them properly. Take your time as you install tiles and leave plenty of tile for the mortar and grout to dry. This holds your tiles in place and keeps them secure and unlikely to crack under weight.
Have you ever repaired a broken tile?
Does your kitchen, bathroom, living space or patio have tiled flooring? Do you have a tiled feature wall in your home? If you’ve replaced a broken tile before, how easy did you find it and did you run into any difficulties?