Have you ever been disappointed to notice a chip or crack in the middle of your tile floor and wonder how it got there? If you have kids living at home, you’ll probably never know, but maybe you know how it happened because you dropped that pot in the kitchen or that cologne on the bathroom floor.
Deciding whether you should replace the tile or simply fill in the crack with a color matching sealant will depend on your taste and standards.
Replacing a tile in the middle of a floor isn’t as cut and dry as it may seem.
The removal process could result in damage to the adjoining tile. Also, removing the grout around the tile and replacing the grout with new will be tough to match.
Sometimes you can repair the crack without having to replace it, and it is less noticeable than if you replaced it, due to the potential mismatched grout.
If the tile is a multi-colored one and the chip or crack is minor, decide which color is best suited if you were able to fill in the crack or chip with a similar color.
Once you decide the best blending color, you can find a color-matching acrylic grout caulk from the tile store.
Cut a small opening in the spout of the caulk tube and push a small amount on the tip of your finger, force the grout caulk into the crack or chip and gently wipe the excess from the surrounding area with a damp cloth. This material cures to a dry but slightly flexible sealant.
Another method is a color-matching seam fill that can be found at a laminate countertop supply company. This material comes in many colors and sets up dry and hard.
Apply it with the applicator and use a razor to remove the excess from the surrounding tile. For a white tile, you can use white-out to apply to the crack or chip and razor off the excess after it dries.
If the chip or crack is major, requiring replacement, you must realize that the possible mismatched grout will be less noticeable.
To remove the broken tile, chip away at the crack or weak spot until you can wedge a small tool under it, such as a screwdriver or a small flat bar to remove the remaining tile.
If possible, try to grind a relief kerf or groove in the existing grout before prying the tile out. Sometimes the surrounding grout can chip the adjacent tiles under pressure.
After removing the tile, make sure all of the adhesive is scraped free and clear so you are left with a flat surface in which to lay the new tile. Remove the rest of the grout surrounding the tile. Vacuum the dust from the area.
When adhering the new tile, you may use thin-set adhesive, but one bag of thin-set would be overkill for one tile, so you could use an adhesive caulk, such as liquid nails or silicone caulking.
Cover the entire back of the tile to give full support to the tile.
After the adhesive dries, you can apply the new grout. Keep in mind that over the years, sanded grout changes color as the grout absorbs dirt.
So, for instance, if your original grout were white, and it’s a few years old by this time, it is probably turned a light grey.
You might want to purchase a light grey grout to make the repair or you can consider using white, and, after it dries, you can hand mop over it with dirty dishwater to age it to its surroundings.
When you’re finished and your kids ask who fixed the tile, you can say, “I don’t know” and drive them crazy.
Questions and concerns can be email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
JD Norris is the owner/operator of DreamMaker Bath&Kitchen and a certified S.C. Master Builder, certified “Aging in Place” Specialist and certified Green Professional.