6 Easy Steps to Replace Broken Ceramic Tiles

Shannon Lee

One of the charms of an older home is the bathroom tile. The floor is often covered with ceramic tile that has weathered nicely over the years, and feels smooth as silk on your feet. But there are also homes where the ceramic tile has been neglected, and a bit of tile replacement savvy is required to make it look new again.

6 Steps to Easy Ceramic Tile Replacement

Here's how to replace that broken tile and make your bathroom floor look like new:

  1. Invest in a scoring tool with a carbide tip to remove the grout from around the tile. Work carefully around the damaged tile--a single slip could damage the tiles around it, making even more work for you. Very old grout crumbles into chips and bits of dust, so be sure to wear safety goggles and gloves to avoid injury.
  2. Now that the grout is gone, it's time to loosen the tile. Using a ceramic bit, drill holes in the broken tile. Space the holes evenly apart for easier chiseling. If you are concerned about breaking the adjacent tiles, cover them firmly with easy-to-remove painter's tape.
  3. Using a narrow chisel and mallet, begin chiseling away the old tile. Hold the chisel at a 90-degree angle to break up the tile even further, and then switch to a 45-degree angle when you have loosened the larger pieces. Scoop out the tile dust and pieces as you go. When you get the tile out, switch to a wider chisel and work the glue off the substrate below the tile. Tap gently with the hammer to avoid damaging the adjacent tiles.
  4. Apply a thin layer of thinset mortar in furrows, about 1/4 inch apart. Cover the back of the replacement tile with the same mortar, then press the tile down firmly into the space. Press down until it is level with the surrounding tiles. If it doesn't sit flush, try pressing a small hand towel against it and then tapping very gently with the mallet.
  5. Give the area at least two hours to cure, and then apply grout to the ceramic tile with a rubber grout float. Give it about 15 minutes, then check the grout. If it is dry to the touch, gently wipe away excess with a damp cloth.
  6. Once that's done, leave it alone! Don't walk on the tile for at least 24 hours to assure that the thinset has dried completely.

With careful attention, you can replace a broken tile and make it look like new.


About the Author

Shannon Dauphin is a freelance writer based near Nashville, Tennessee. Her house was built in 1901, so home repair and renovation have become her hobbies.

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