How to Repair Floor Tile
Cracked tile doesn’t just look bad. With its sharp edges, it can also be dangerous. If you have a cracked tile or two around your home, you don’t have to call a pro to fix them. You can do it on your own. All you need to repair floor tile are the right tools and some patience.
Here’s what you’ll need to make your repair.
- Cold chisel
- Nail punch
- Putty knife
- Square-notched trowel
- Rubber mallet
- Needle nose pliers
- Grout sponge
- Oscillating tool with grout blade or a grout saw
- Replacement tiles
- Tile spacers
- Thin-set mortar
- Grout float
- Grout sealer
- Floor-leveling compound (if needed)
When taking on this DIY task, be sure to equip yourself with the proper safety gear. Throughout the video, we’ll alert you regarding when you should and should not use the safety gear.
Remove grout. To repair floor tile, start by removing the old grout around the tile with either an oscillating tool with a grout removal blade or a carbide-tipped grout saw. Being careful not to scratch the glazed tile surface, apply firm pressure across the grout until you expose the unglazed edges of the tile.
Break tile. If the tile isn’t already broken, use a nail set or center punch with a hammer to crack it. If you’re having trouble breaking it, try drilling holes into the tile to speed up the process. It’s important to be careful when working with broken tile. Always wear protective work gloves, as pieces can be sharp.
Chisel tile. Insert a chisel into one of the cracks and gently tap. Begin at the center and chip upwards to avoid damaging surrounding tiles. Keep in mind that the cement board underneath the tile looks similar to mortar when you’re chiseling. Remove and discard the broken tile pieces.
Remove thin-set. Use a putty knife to scrape away the old thin-set mortar underneath the tile. For poured mortar, use a chisel. When complete, use sandpaper to smooth any rough areas.
Apply mortar. Clear the area of dust and debris before applying mortar. For smaller tiles, use the notched side of the trowel to apply mortar to the back of the replacement tile. For larger tiles, it may be easier to apply the mortar directly on the floor. Use the notched edge of the trowel to create lines in the mortar, and set the tile into place. Place plastic spacers around the tile to center it within the opening.
Set tile. Press the tile down so it’s even with surrounding tiles, twisting it a bit to allow mortar full contact with the floor. If necessary, use a mallet to lightly tap it into place. Use a level to confirm the tile is properly aligned with surrounding tiles.
Clean tiles. Remove excess mortar and adhesive using a wet sponge. Let the area dry for 24 hours or according to manufacturer instructions.
Apply grout. Remove spacers, then firmly press grout between tiles with a putty knife. Use your finger to fill in low spots. Let the grout set for a few minutes then gently wipe the area clean with a damp sponge. You may have to do this several more times.
Apply grout sealer. When your grout is completely dry, use an applicator bottle or foam brush to apply grout sealer along the joints of the tile.
Your project to repair floor tile is complete!