The Ultimate Homeowners' Guide to Charleston Tile Repair

Tile is an absolute staple for surface finishing in Charleston, SC—and most other places around the world. In fact, it's unlikely that you could find even one residential or commercial building in Charleston that doesn't contain at least a little bit of tile. That makes perfect sense when you consider how attractive, durable, protective and long-lasting it is. All that widespread use means it’s common for people to need Charleston tile repair services.

Even though tile is very well-suited to the needs of homes and commercial applications, it's not completely impervious to damage. Chips, cracks, loose tiles and missing chunks can cause serious problems for your household that range from wood rot to tripping or cutting injuries. When your floor or wall installation has suffered damage and is not at its best, you need professional tile repair services.

You don't have to deal with ugly, unsafe damage on your own when your local Charleston handyman is standing by, ready to get the job done efficiently and correctly. The team of service professionals at Mr. Handyman of Charleston and Summerville can take care of expert tile repair and dozens of other handyman services that will make your property more comfortable, livable and appealing.

Should I Try DIY Charleston Tile Repair or Hire a Handyman?

If you're the handy type who enjoys taking care of improvement projects around your home and you already have some basic tools and supplies lying around, you can probably manage to get a chip or hairline crack in your tile surface repaired without too much trouble. Replacing one damaged piece is considerably more involved and requires some specialized products such as a grout saw or carbide-tipped scoring tool, but it's not impossible for a determined amateur to get it done.

However, this advice mainly applies to standard ceramic or porcelain tiles with minor damage. If you're dealing with another type of tile like marble, slate, granite or another natural stone, repairs are best left to Charleston tile repair professionals. In the same sense, large-format or glass tiles are much more difficult to work with and need expert solutions as well.

If you're not sure you're up to the task, that's understandable. Tile repair does require some skill and technique to get it done properly so the repair is completely invisible. You may not have the time or inclination to spend hours on it, or you may not have the ability to get up close and personal with the floor for that length of time. You can always rely on our team of Charleston tile repair professionals to get the job done right, quickly and efficiently, and restore your home to a beautiful, functional condition.

Determined to give tile repair a try? We've listed the steps to fixing small chips or cracks, or replacing one piece, in the ceramic tile repair guide below.

Tools and Items Needed for Charleston Tile Repair

You won't need all of the things we've listed here for a minor tile repair on a crack or chip, but you'll need most of it if you're planning to replace a whole tile. For chips and cracks, you may be able to find tile repair kits at your local Charleston hardware store that include most of what you'll need in one package.

  • Safety goggles

  • Dust mask

  • Drop cloth

  • Painters' tape

  • Utility or putty knife

  • Small paintbrush

  • White or clear tile epoxy

  • Water-based urethane sealant

  • Thin-set mortar

  • Fine-grit sandpaper or a sanding sponge

  • Carbide-tipped scoring tool or grout saw

  • Chisel

  • Hammer

  • Notched trowel

  • Rubber grout float

  • Acrylic paint that matches the color of the surface

Charleston Tile Repair for Hairline Cracks and Small Chips

Ready to get started on tile repair for a small imperfection in ceramic or porcelain? Here's what you need to do:

  1. Clean the repair area completely with a damp sponge or cloth and let it dry out thoroughly.

  2. Follow package instructions to mix up your clear or white epoxy.

  3. Use your painters' tape to cover grout lines around any pieces you're repairing so you don't accidentally get epoxy on your grout or adjacent pieces.

  4. Scoop up some epoxy with your utility knife and gently smear it into the chip or along the hairline crack, making sure to slightly overfill.

  5. Smooth out epoxy filler and blend it into the surface of your piece, feathering at its edges to help it match the texture of your surface.

  6. Make sure all filler is totally dry, which may take a few hours (check package for recommended drying times). Then use your sanding sponge or fine-grit sandpaper to smooth out any rough edges.

  7. Give it a wipe down to remove any dust from sanding.

  8. Not sure if your paint color is a perfect match for the color of your installation? Test it out on an inconspicuous area first, but remember it will probably be a bit lighter once it is dry.

  9. Apply two coats of paint over top of your epoxy with a small paintbrush and let it dry. Paint may take as long as 48 hours to completely cure, or it could just be a couple of hours, depending on the manufacturer's instructions.

  10. Seal all paint with a few coats of water-based urethane and ensure that sealant is totally cured before anyone touches or walks on your tile repair.

Charleston Tile Repair to Replace One Damaged Piece

If chips and cracks were a breeze and you're ready to move onto bigger projects, here are some steps to replacing an entire individual unit with a brand-new piece.

  1. Put a few dust cloths or some pages from the Charleston City Paper around the area you are working on, as grout removal is a messy process.

  2. Wash your repair area thoroughly with a vinegar-water mixture or mild detergent and let it dry out.

  3. Make sure you have your eye protection and dust mask on—you don't want to inhale grout dust or get a flying shard of ceramic in your eye.

  4. Grab your grout saw or carbide-tipped scoring tool and carefully remove all grout from around your piece in question, being careful not to damage any adjacent tiles.

  5. After all grout has been cleared out, put your drop cloth over your damaged piece and tap it with your hammer to break it up into smaller chunks.

  6. Use your chisel to loosen up broken chunks so you can remove them from the thin-set mortar bonding them to your substrate, but take your time and do everything you can to avoid putting a big gouge in the subfloor or backer board underneath your piece.

  7. When all chunks are removed, chip away remaining mortar with your hammer and chisel, again going slowly and gently so you don't damage your surface underneath.

  8. Clear up any remaining dust or bits of mortar—a wet-dry vacuum is the best way to handle it, if you happen to have one available.

  9. Your thin-set mortar probably came pre-mixed, but if it didn't, mix it up according to the directions on the package.

  10. Put a generous amount of mortar onto the subfloor or wall where your new piece will be and create a ridged texture by shaping it with your notched trowel. Repeat the process on the back of your new piece.

  11. Drop or press your new tile into place. It's really important to make sure it's flat and you're holding it parallel to the floor or wall surface, because if one corner or side hits the bed of mortar first it will press the mortar down more on that side and cause the entire unit to sit unevenly. You also need to ensure there's an even gap along each side for the new grout to go into.

  12. Give the thin-set time to dry according to the drying time that is recommended on its package. Mortar usually takes at least 24 hours to dry, but there are some quick-drying varieties that take less time.

  13. If you didn't get pre-mixed grout, mix it up by following the manufacturer's directions.

  14. Use a rubber grout float at a 45-degree angle to smooth grout into the gaps around the edge of your newly-placed piece.

  15. Make sure the grout is fully dry and no longer tacky. Use your damp cloth or sponge to clean off excess grout from the lines or the surface of your piece.

  16. Wait at least 24 hours before you apply any pressure to your newly repaired piece.

What If I Don't Have a Replacement Piece Available for Tile Repair?

Tile is widely available, so it may seem like it would be a simple matter to get a replacement piece in the exact same color. Unfortunately, that's usually not the case. Tile is made in lots, and a piece that is the same style and manufacturer but a different lot may not look perfectly identical to the ones you have installed. Since designs are often discontinued, that may not be an option anyway—or you may not know the exact style and manufacturer for your current installation. Because there is such a vast selection available in Charleston, it can be difficult to track down just the right one.

The best practice is to put a few extra pieces aside whenever you have a new installation put in, because then you have spares available for replacement jobs should one or two pieces get damaged. But you may not have had the opportunity to do that when your current floor or wall was put in—and even if you did save a couple spares, they still might not be a perfect match. Like anything else in Charleston properties, your walls or floor take wear and tear over time, and may be faded or discolored by now so they won't match with unused pieces that still look like new.

If a perfectly matching replacement just isn't a feasible option, the best solution is to have the expert technicians at Mr. Handyman of Charleston and Summerville replace the whole installation. Having one out-of-place unit that doesn't match the rest will be noticeable and unattractive, and if it's not the same texture, it could even create a tripping hazard. Is your Charleston tile repair project part of a kitchen renovation? Check out our tips and tricks for planning a kitchen remodel in Charleston.

How Did My Tile Get Damaged in the First Place?

Sometimes you know precisely what caused the problem with your surface, because you saw it happen. That's usually the case with impact damage, whether it was from heavy furniture being dropped on the floor or something smashing into the wall and shattering a tile. But in some cases, the source of the damage isn't so obvious. It's good to know what may have led to the damage, in case there's a deeper issue that needs to be addressed. Common causes of damage that call for Charleston tile repair service include:

  • Minor problems, like a tiny hairline crack, can weaken a piece so that even normal pressure from being stepped on can cause it to break all the way apart

  • All buildings shift and settle over the years, and that movement can cause your grout lines to crack and crumble

  • If your foundation is heaving or sinking, it will affect your subfloor and put stress on your surface installation, causing cracks or unevenness

  • When floor joists are incorrectly installed or too far apart, or they have been compromised by wood rot, it can cause sagging that results in extensive damage

Need Help With Charleston Tile Repair? Your Local Handyman Expert Will Get the Job Done!

Whether you are in Charleston or a nearby part of South Carolina such as Ladson, Moncks Corner or Goose Creek, you can always get reliable handyman services from the team of experienced technicians at Mr. Handyman of Charleston and Summerville. We pride ourselves on always delivering the highest standards of excellent customer service and expert workmanship.

Contact us today by picking up the phone and calling 843-940-7525 to schedule a convenient appointment time, or to speak with our friendly customer service representatives and find out more about why we're considered Charleston's top choice for trusted home repair and maintenance services.

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