How to repair tile

Most problems with ceramic tile installations have to do with stained or cracked grout or cracked or broken tiles.

Though grout is tough, when left unsealed, it is quite porous and will stain. If applied improperly, it will crack, and, when that happens, tile will eventually work loose.

Tile usually cracks or breaks either because something is dropped on it or because the surface that supports it shifts because of settling, wind, or earthquakes. Or, in the case of floors, a supporting subfloor may not be strong enough to handle the floor loads without deflecting—and deflection can cause cracks.

Of course, deflection doesn’t occur when tile is laid on a concrete slab. Many wood subfloors, however, should be reinforced with an extra layer of plywood subflooring prior to tiling.

Because both grout and porous tiles can be stained by liquids and foods, they should be treated with sealers that resist moisture. Be aware, though, that the sealers can change the natural look of stone or unglazed tile. It pays to test a sealer in an inconspicuous place before using it.

If a tile has a small, narrow crack, you may be able to fill the crack with paintable caulk and, if necessary, touch up the caulk with an artist’s paintbrush and acrylic paint. Try this, but if the repair is too obvious, you’ll have to move on to Plan B, which is quite a bit more involved. Plan B is to remove the tile and replace it with another just like it, as explained below. If you happen to have a matching tile around, you can do this. Otherwise, you may have a very difficult time finding a replacement that is a perfect match.

If you are installing a new floor, countertop, or wall, put some extra tile aside so that you have a replacement on hand when you need one,

If you have new glazed or unglazed ceramic or stone tile, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for cleaning. Wipe up any spilled food or liquid promptly because porous surfaces—and especially the grout—will stain easily.

Replacing Cracked or Broken Tile

Replacing a cracked or broken tile isn’t as difficult as you might think. Of course, you can only replace the tile if you have or can find a match. If you can’t find a match on your tile dealer’s shelf, ask if there is a “bone pile” of rejects or extras you can check.

Before installing the new tile, make sure there are no sub-surface problems that will cause more trouble. Once your have verified this, here’s how to do it:

1 Use an inexpensive grout saw or a lever can opener to scrape most of the grout out of the surrounding joints.

2 Wearing eye protection, use a hammer and nailset to punch a hole in the center of the damaged tile. Be careful not to chip or crack any of the surrounding tiles, and avoid driving the nailset into the material underneath.

3 Score an X across the face of the tile, from corner to corner, using a glass cutter.

4 Rap a cold chisel lightly with a hammer to break away the tile, starting at the center.

5 Pry up the pieces using a putty knife, an old chisel, or a prybar. Brush the debris from the area, and vacuum it clean.

6 Paint the surface with latex primer (fill with vinyl spackle, if necessary) and allow it to dry.

7 Using a small notched trowel, apply tile adhesive.

8 Set the new tile into place and press it in with a slight twisting motion, taking care to maintain even grout joints all the way around.

Using a rubber mallet or a hammer and block of wood, tap it gently to level it with the surrounding tiles. Remove any excess adhesive from the grout joints with an old screwdriver. Set the new tile by tapping a wood block with a hammer.

9 Allow the adhesive to set up and then, wearing rubber gloves, mix the grout to match the existing grout. Apply it to the joints with your finger. Clean any excess grout from the tile surface with a damp sponge.

How to Re-grout Tile

Ceramic tile is especially useful in kitchens and bathrooms because it is water-resistant, easy to clean, and extremely durable.

Made from a mixture of clays and fired at high temperatures, tile is used for wall coverings, floors, showers, countertops, bath surrounds, and more. Tiles used on walls and counters are generally glazed.

Grout, a kind of mortar, is spread between tiles to lock them in place and fill the joints between them. Grout may be white or colored with pigment.
Ceramic tile may be applied directly over drywall-if the room is likely to be damp, special moisture-resistant drywall should be used.

Or tile may be applied to a mortar bed or backerboard made of a ceramic aggregate core that is coated with a thin fiberglass mesh.

Professionals apply tiles to walls with a thick bed of mortar; home repairs often call for a thinner mastic or mortar-type adhesive.

Re-grouting is a bit more challenging but within reach even for beginning do-it-yourselfers. However, if re-grouting looks like a job you would rather leave to a professional, ask a local tile supplier for recommendations.

1. Use a grout saw to cut away any cracked or loose grout and to score stable grout between tiles. Clean away dirt and debris with a soft-bristle brush.
2. Wearing latex gloves, mix up the new matching grout according to label directions.
3. Hold the leading edge of a rubber grout float up at a slight angle and apply grout along the tile, working it deep into the crevices. Then use your finger to smooth the grout.
4. Allow the grout to set up slightly. With a damp sponge, wipe off the excess from the surface of the tile. Allow the grout to completely set up for several days and then apply grout sealer with a sponge brush.

If you need to repair ceramic tiles in your kitchen or your bathroom, you don’t necessarily have to call the professionals. Find out about different types of damage and how to fix the problem yourself quickly and inexpensively.

Defining the damage

Determining the type of damage helps you devise the proper strategy for your ceramic tile repair project. You can seal smaller cracks and chips to prevent further damage. For larger flaws, your best option is removing the tile and starting from square one.

Ceramic tile repair

Removing tiles

If you only need to seal a crack, jump to the section on sealing tiles. Before you get started, gather your tools. You will need a hammer and chisel, safety goggles, gloves, a long-sleeved shirt, and a brush or a broom to sweep up excess residue as you work and afterwards.

Remove grout around the tile using a hammer and chisel. Wear safety goggles, gloves, and a long-sleeved shirt to keep yourself free of dust and residue.

Remove the tile. Depending on how accessible your tile is, you may need to break it (use a drill, hammer, and chisel) and insert a new one. You can try to preserve the tile by freeing it as follows: wedge your chisel under a corner and carefully use the hammer to pry the tile away. Repeat the process at the other corners and along accessible sides; focusing on one area can cause cracks.

A floor covered with ceramic tile is about as durable and low-maintenance a surface as you can get—until a cast-iron pot slips from your hand, or you drop the wrench when tightening that elbow joint under the bathroom sink. But even then, you’ll be glad to have tile underfoot, because replacing a broken or chipped one is pretty simple to do. “It’s a job most any homeowner can handle,” says Joe Ferrante, a tiling contractor who’s worked with the This Old House television show for nearly 20 years. On the following pages are Ferrante’s steps for a perfect repair. Just make sure to follow one critical piece of advice. “Take it easy with the hammer,” he says, “or you’ll end up breaking more tiles.”

Step 1

Remove the Grout

Photo by William A. Boyd

• Put on safety glasses to protect your eyes from chips and dust, then rake out the grout around the broken tile using a carbide-tipped scoring tool.

• Apply just enough pressure to remove the grout but not so much that a slip will gouge the neighboring tiles.

Step 2

Loosen the Tile

Photo by William A. Boyd

• Apply painter’s tape around the edges of the adjacent tiles to protect them.

• Drill evenly spaced holes into the tile’s broken sections with a 1/4-inch ceramic bit. This helps free the pieces from the substrate and makes them easier to chisel out.

Step 3

Chisel Out the Pieces

Photo by William A. Boyd

• Working from the center out toward the edges, gently tap out the broken pieces with a hammer and a narrow (3/8- or 1/4-inch) chisel. If you don’t have a tile chisel, a cold chisel or even a flat-blade screwdriver will also do the job. Start with the chisel at 90 degrees to the floor, then switch to a 45-degree angle after you penetrate the glaze.

• Once the broken tile is removed, use a wider chisel to clean all the old thinset off the substrate. The same technique applies for all substrates, including mortar, cement backerboard, or plywood.

Step 4

Set the New Tile

Photo by William A. Boyd

• Comb a small amount of thinset mortar over the substrate in straight furrows using a 1/4-inch notched trowel.

• For best adhesion, also butter the back of the new tile with thinset.

• Set the tile in place and press down firmly to level it with the surrounding tile. Adjust it so the spacing is even on all sides.

Step 5

Fill the Joint with Grout

Photo by William A. Boyd

• Wait at least two hours for the thinset to cure, then mix up a batch of grout.

• Swipe the grout into the joints with a rubber grout float held at a 45-degree angle, then wait 15 minutes for it to harden.

• When the grout no longer feels tacky to the touch, clean off the excess with a damp sponge.

VCT is a common floor tile typically found in commercial locations, industrial locations, schools, and other areas. It is the vinyl tile you might remember from the hallways of your high school.

Over time, VCT can be damaged, often when moving appliances or furniture. In this guide, we will discuss VCT in detail and give you some tips on how to repair it.

What is VCT tile?

For many people who are used to the phrase “VCT tile”, it means Vinyl Composition Tile.

It is an inexpensive and attractive house flooring material that is in such wide use, the Resilient Floor Covering Institute estimated that the total area of vinyl flooring installed in homes over the course of one year could cover all of Manhattan.

This flooring material is durable, easy to maintain and quick to install even in DIY situations.

Who sells it?

VCT tiles can be easily found in most flooring materials companies store. For ease and convenience, you can also check the company’s websites or local listing sites in your region.

How do you get samples?

These sellers offer free samples to their customers. To get one, you only need to visit their website and locate the page dedicated for such. You will need to specify; easier if you have the product ID.

Some of them sell customized VCT tiles, you only need to get your design across to them.

In case your preferred seller does not have a website, you may give them a call. If they offer such a service, they will take you through the required process.

What textures and colors does it come in?

VCT tiles come in different colors like black, black and white, Charcoal, etc. It can come virtually in any color form.

The design and area of the room it will be used usually determines the texture.

Some of the popular VCT tiles include: Luxury Vinyl Tile; Homogenous Sheet Vinyl; Heterogeneous Sheet Vinyl; Vinyl Composition Tile; among others.

Best practices?

Before purchasing VCT tiles from any dealer, make sure to confirm they deliver what they promise. A simple search of their online review may give them out.

If possible, ask past customers about their product before placing an order.


Some of the popular VCT tiles brand include:

  • Armstrong
  • Forbo
  • Rubber Flooring
  • Shaw Floors
  • Flooret
  • Moduleo
  • Parterre Flooring Systems
  • Amtico

How to repair/replace VCT tile

VCT tiles are undoubtedly durable, that does not mean they are undamageable. Lots of times, they are damaged from scratch especially when a piece of furniture is dragged on them (just as stated earlier). Dropped objects, cutlery or broken glass can also make a hole in a VCT tile.

Before starting this DIY replace/repair, you will need the following:

  • Masking tape
  • Heat gun, clothes iron or hairdryer
  • Puffy knife
  • Stiff paint scraper
  • Sharp paint scraper
  • Pliers
  • Rag
  • Mineral spirits
  • Leveling compound
  • Vinyl tile adhesive
  • Replacement tile
  • Rolling pin

NOTE: Getting all of these things is not mandatory, so far you can improvise. Go through the repair/replacement procedure to know things you can do without.

The aesthetics of our homes matter a lot. The sense of style that we showcase and the décor that we support can tell a lot about our taste and class.

It is important to ensure that everything you have inside your house is pitch-perfect.

Under such circumstances, what if you notice some damaged tiles in the bath of your master bedroom?

Broken or ripped tiles looked hideous and may spoil your image within the blink of an eye.

Most people relate a broken to the retiling of the entire room. However, retiling Is certainly not required, especially if only one or two tiles have been broken.

There are various ways in which you can repair ripped or broken tiles at home. To make sure you have no confusions taking a few steps, below mentioned are some methods that come to your aide:

• Painting:
One of the easiest ways to cover the cracks is to apply some paint over it. This method works best for cracks that are as thin as a hairline. The paint gets inside the crack and it looks the crack never existed. However, the tile would still be broken but won’t look like it even a bit. To make sure this method works properly, you have to apply a paint that matches the color of the tiles exactly. If the tiles have a pattern or texture, it could get difficult to do a fine job however, it is worth a try. You can even ask the employee at the paint store to get you the color you need.

• Glazing:
Glazing is a great way for tile and grout repair. In this case, the method would repair the tile instead of hiding the damage. The best way to go about the process is by combing this method with the method explained above. Glazing has to be bought from the market, the kind you should buy depends on the pattern you have on the tile. You can either buy transparent glazing or a colorful one that will enhance your tiles even more. Glazing can also help in ensuring no further damage to the tiles as it strengthens them.
Apply the glazing in coats, but make sure to clean and dry the tiles thoroughly so that no dirt stays in it once glazing is done.

• Tile filler:
There are various products available in the market with the name tile filler. This could be used to repair the damage on tiles. Use paints along with tile and grout repair mixture and apply it over the tile using a matchstick. The tile filler is made of materials that can fill up the cracked parts of the tiles and make it look almost new. Using paint along with tile repair would ensure that the repaired crack looks like a part of the tile. Once you are sure the tile crack is filled and the materials are dried, wipe the excess material off the tile using a cloth.

• Replacing the broken tile:
To follow this method, it is important to already have a tile that looks like the tiles present the room. You can ask for it from the installer who originally installed these tiles at your place. If you are not able to find them, look for the tiles with some retailers. If you are not able to find the tiles anywhere, this method might not work for you. However, if you do, you can start by putting a towel on the broken tile and hit the tile with a hammer.

The tile will further break into pieces that you can scrape off in bits. Make sure to remove the plaster beneath the tile as well so that space for a new tile can be generated. Put a coat of adhesive before putting the tile. Apply grout on the cracks between the tiles and let it try. Wipe the tile with a wet cloth so that it gets clean.

• Nail polish:
Another easy method to use while fixing a broken or chipped tile is by applying nail polish over it. Nail polish is a great way to ensure that the broken tile doesn’t break any further and color matches the tile. Nail polish will stay for a long time and wouldn’t come off that easily. You can use a mixture of various polishes to get the required color. Once you have the color you like, apply the color on the cracks with the nail polish brush. You can even create textures of the tile with the help of nail polish, a luxury you don’t get while using paints. Make sure to let it dry for a significant amount of time.