What to Consider When Replacing a Broken Tile

  • (Janet Paik/Houzz)

  • (Colin Cadle Photography/Houzz)

  • (Bell Landscape Architecture Inc./Houzz)


The new year brings a desire to improve all aspects of your life, so why not on a channel that the impulse for the approach of a number of home fix-it projects? Here is what you need to know about how to repair a broken tile — and whether you should do it yourself or enlist the help of a pro.

Project: repairing a broken tiles on a wall or on the floor.

Why: Your tile floor or wall will look better without the crack.

RELATED: Browse Flooring Materials

Basic steps: The process of replacing a tile is pretty simple. In essence, you chip out the bad tile to be replaced by a new and regrout. While that sounds simple enough, you have to know where you should look for, so that you can spot damage that could lead to a larger repair.

It is a good project for you if: “Someone who has a simple handyman skills can do it,” said Chris Harper, general contractor and partner at Harper Construction in Charleston, South Carolina. “It is more a practice of patience than it is skill.” That said, the owner of a house there are a number of unexpected challenges, allowing the project to grow bigger, Harper warns. If that happens, it may be time to call in a pro.

Things to consider: Cracked tiles can be caused by a variety of problems, ranging from something heavy falling on the floor is a subfloor problem. The unfortunate result is an ugly broken tile from marring the look of your floor or, in some cases, your backsplash or wall.

Fortunately, replacing a broken tile is quite simple, if everything goes as planned. A contractor said he had seen customers trying to glue the broken tiles back together. But this is not ideal, because you will likely always be able to find the fault lines.

Instead, you can use a cold steel chisel to chip out the tile. This is delicate work that requires the application of the right amount of pressure. Some people find it helpful to break the tile before they chip. “Most of our guys break the tiles, so that they do not damage the rest around it,” says john Smith, general contractor in Owings Brothers Contracting in Eldersburg, Maryland.

If you remove a tile of a shower wall, it will be difficult to dig the tile out without damaging adjacent tiles if the grout is still present, notes Robert Jenkins, remodeling contractor at Bobmahalo in Wahiawa, Hawaii. “The graves of the grout if it is not cracked already,” he says. You want to scrape all the thinset or mortar down on the ground.

As soon as the tile is outside, you should use a flat scraping tool to scrape out the old mortar down to the substrate, so that the new thinset. In addition to the application of the setting material to the back of the replacement tile, place and let it dry according to the instructions of the manufacturer. When it is dry, you can add.

Keep in mind that even if you use the exact same grout color, it might not be perfect. Grout changes color over time as it accumulates dirt and wear. “A tip that we do, say the people who are going on this road is when you are in place of a tile, consider regrouting the entire area”, says Jef Forward, the creative director of a Design Build in Ann Arbor, Michigan. “If it’s a bathroom, 5, 8 [feet], yes, I would consider it.” For a larger room, Forward suggests regrouting a smaller area — perhaps 3 to 5 metres, so you can mix the grout a little more.

These are the steps, in the assumption that the removal of the tile smoothly. But it is possible that when you pull up the cracked tiles, you will discover a cracked subfloor. “If the tile is cracked from an impact, sometimes the damage can reach and crack the substrate below,” Forward says. If you have a large crack, you should put it under the tiles to assess the damage. “The result is that you may have to pull perimeter tile,” he says.

Sometimes your tile may need to be replaced, not because it is broken or cracked, but because it popped out on its own. This can be caused by the setting up of a product that is not well mixed, and in some cases, the entire floor need to be redone for the correct setting of the bond. So what do you do if you see a crack in the ground? In general, small cracks can probably be filled and safe retiled, Forward says. But cracks under the tiles will probably need the help of a professional to assess the situation.

A note about the mess: If you are using a grinder to remove the grout around a tile — that helps to get leverage — you want a vacuum attached to the grinder so that the dust does not go everywhere. It is also smart to have a surface protection for the tiles around your workplace. You want to put down cardboard or some protective material where you place your programs, so you don’t accidentally crack more tiles.

And finally, if you’re reading this article and are building or remodeling, John McCloskey, a general contractor at J. Francis Co. in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has this tip: “If you’re lucky [private] ownership of the property if the bathroom is being renovated, have a foresight to the attic stock of the tile.” Attic stock is a 5 percent buffer of your order when you originally lay the tiles so that you don’t have to try to find a matching tile as a break.

Who to hire: A professional tile layer or, for the bigger jobs, general contractor

Cost range: $100 to $500, depending on how long it takes

Typical project length: Two to eight hours

Authorization: usually Not necessary

The best time to do this project: Because it is an indoor project, any time of the year is fine.

How to start: Make sure you have the replacement tile on hand. Decide yourself or hire a pro.

Follow us

Don't be shy, get in touch. We love meeting interesting people and making new friends.

Most popular