How to Repair a Broken Floor Tile

cracked floor tile

A broken or cracked floor tile is unsightly, unhygienic, and potentially dangerous. Chipped and damaged tiles are hard to clean, and the open, rough surface can harbour bacteria. In addition, if someone were to walk around barefoot they may injure themselves on the tile.  The good news is that it is fairly easy to repair or replace damaged tiles, once you know the technique.

Tools Needed

tools for repairing a cracked tile

To repair a damaged floor you will need:

  • A replacement tile (or tiles)
  • Awl/chisel
  • Hammer
  • Putty knife
  • Notched trowel
  • Power drill
  • Wood screws
  • Safety goggles
  • Tile grout
  • Float
  • Tile adhesive
  • Sponge
  • Carpenter's level
  • Grout sealant

Step By Step Instructions

Begin by scraping out the grout from around the broken tile - use a chisel if necessary. Once the grout is removed, you can use a hammer and chisel to chip out the broken tile. You should always wear safety glasses while doing this, because the parts of the tile that break away may be very sharp. If you have spare tiles from when the floor was installed, you can replace the tile immediately. If not, take a piece of the broken tile to the store and use it to find a close match. You may need to check a few different tiles to find a good match, because the exact shade of tiles can differ from batch to batch even in the same line. Compare under lighting that is as close to the lighting you have at home as possible.

Once you have found the right tile (or tiles) you are ready to lay them on the floor:

  1. Clean the exposed floor thoroughly to ensure that there is no dust or chipped tile remaining. Make sure that the underlying floor is secure. If it is loose or uneven, sand it down and secure it to the underlying joists.
  2. Use a notched trowel to spread the adhesive onto the back of the new tile
  3. Place the new tile into the empty space, and use spacers to ensure that the tile is centered, with equal spacing between the old tiles on all sides. Press the tile firmly into place.
  4. Make sure that the tile is level. Leave it in place for a few hours to let the adhesive dry.
  5. Once the adhesive has dried, remove the spacers and insert grout into the gaps, then smooth out the joints.
  6. Leave the grout to dry for a while, then wipe off the excess with a sponge.
  7. Let the grout dry for 24 hours
  8. Apply grout sealer to finish the job.

Tips and Hints

  • If you cannot find a tile that is a perfect match, remove several tiles and create a small decorative tiled area with a different colour or pattern. Be creative and try to turn the new tiled pattern into a feature in the room. You may need to re-tile more than one part of the room to get a symmetrical look if you do this, but it is well worth the effort!
  • Be generous when applying the adhesive. It is easier to clean up excess adhesive than it is to remove and replace the tile if you did not apply enough to it in the first place.

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