Everything You Should Know About Tile Repair
Imagine this: it’s the first morning after you’ve just finished renovating your kitchen. You have a glorious new glass tile backsplash, new tile ceramic floors, marble countertops, and all the features and fixtures that you’ve dreamed about for years. You take in the moment, savoring your perfect kitchen as you also savor your morning cup of Joe (cream and two sugars, of course), enjoying the peace and quiet before your family wakes up.
That peace and quiet does not last for long.
A crashing noise is coming from the stairwell; a combination of children’s voices and barking dogs is hurtling towards you. You put the coffee down, thoughts turning to making breakfast, as your little ones race into the kitchen. They run around the newly installed island and your parent spidey-senses start tingling. “Slow down!” you implore, but it’s too late.
Toddlers and barking dogs crash into your island stools, and while no injuries were sustained (phew!), the same could not be said for tiled floors. As you bend down to upright the stools, and your children are sitting contritely in the breakfast nook, you see it. The crack. Across one of your stunning ceramic tiles.
As disappointing as the damage to your tile floors would be, all is not lost. There are a couple tile repair options that can help get your floors looking good-as-new. Whether you hire the professionals at Mr. Handyman of E Boulder, Broomfield, and Erie to replace the damaged tile, or you decide to repair the tile yourself, it’s helpful to know a bit more about the material you’re working with.
Continue reading to discover what you need to know about all things tile repair—from why you should fix broken tiles right away to our professional tips for fixing cracks and chips yourself.
What Are the Different Kinds of Tile?
Before learning more about tile repair, it’s beneficial to review the common materials tiles are made of. There are many kinds of tiles that may be in your Boulder home, and each has a unique aesthetic with varying characteristics.
- Porcelain tile is one of the most popular choices for kitchens and bathrooms. It’s man-made, highly durable, water resistant, and available in a range of sizes and colors. Similar to ceramic tiles, porcelain is fired at a higher temperature, making it more dense than ceramic tile.
- Ceramic tiles are another common material found in Boulder homes. It’s inexpensive to create, easy to install and clean, water resistant, and highly durable. Like porcelain, ceramic tiles also offer a lot of color, size, and shape options.
- Glass tiles are as strong as ceramic/porcelain and equally easy to clean. However, glass is considered a luxury item because it’s a uniquely beautiful material. Thus, it’s more expensive than ceramic or porcelain.
- Slate is a natural stone. It’s incredibly strong, durable and scratch resistant—making it a popular choice for flooring. However, slate is also difficult to install because it is very heavy.
- Vinyl tiles are made out of PVC, a type of plastic. Vinyl is inexpensive to install and is also resistant to water damage, scratches, and staining. However, since vinyl is made out of plastic, it’s not very eco-friendly.
- Laminate is similar to vinyl in that it’s not a stone or clay-based tile. However, it’s designed to emulate the look of ceramic tiles and has a nicer aesthetic than vinyl. Laminate is made out of layers of synthetic product with a photographic applique on top. This material is inexpensive and highly durable, as well as resistant to water damage, scratches, and staining.
Why It’s Important to Fix Broken Tiles Right Away
Although you might feel disappointed when you notice damage to your tile backsplash, floors, or countertop, you may also shrug-it-off as not a big deal. After all, one small crack is not so bad—right? Well, not exactly. There are actually a few reasons why you should repair your broken tiles as soon as possible:
- Worsening over time: Like most things in life, the longer you leave a problem the worse it will inevitably get. Most tiled surfaces are subjected to continual pressure—either from people walking or objects resting on them. This pressure will cause a small fracture to become a larger crack as time goes on.
- Unappealing aesthetic: After investing time and money into your beautiful tile floor or backsplash, living with a damaged tile can be a frustrating eyesore.
- Water damage: Most tile varieties are water resistant. However, when they’re damaged, water can seep through cracks and chips to the drywall or subfloor below. This problem is particularly worrisome in the bathroom because of its greater exposure to moisture.
- Safety hazard: Broken tiles are sharp, and your child’s foot or pet’s paw could easily be cut from stepping on a cracked piece of tile. Also, if the damaged tile is in the shower, a family member could nick their foot, lose balance, and slip on the wet surface.
Why is My Tile Broken?
Although tiles are made to be durable—after all, they are exposed to people walking on them, hot temperatures from cooking on the stove, and water from the shower—there are still a few ways tile can become damaged.
- Accidents happen: Heavy items dropped on your tile floors can cause damage. While this is not always the case, sometimes even the most fluke incidents can crack a ceramic or porcelain tile. For instance, if while moving your sofa it’s put down a bit too hard on the ground, it could chip your tile flooring.
- Cracks in the subfloor: If your tile has cracked but you don’t recall dropping anything on it, the problem could be with your subfloor. Concrete is a common material used in many Boulder homes’ subfloors. Although concrete is incredibly strong, it’s prone to cracking. To mitigate this, most contractors lay concrete over control joints. The idea is that the concrete should crack along the joint so it does not affect your top floor. If the contractor didn’t take this step, your cracked tiles could be caused by cracks in the concrete below.
- Incorrectly installed joists: Joists are the foundation of your home’s foundation—so to speak. They are the part of your floor on which everything else rests. The joists support both your subfloor and top floor, along with all the people, pets, plants, and furniture in your house. Joists have to be built at a specific distance from one another, or the top floor won't be properly supported. If your joists were built too far apart, then your floor might start to sag and cause any tiling to bend and crack.
Should I Hire Tile Repair or Tile Replacement Services?
We’ve established that it’s integral to repair tile right away. However, when it comes to fixing broken tiles you have two options. Either you hire tile repair services, or you get a handyman professional to replace the tile entirely. To help you decide what course of action is right for you, ask yourself the following:
How Bad is the Damage?
A small dent or chip in your tile is an easy repair for a professional handyman. Also, if you’ve saved a few tiles from when your floor or backsplash was laid, it’ll be an easy swap for a contractor to remove the damaged tile and put in the new one. This will also come in handy if you have a few tiles in a row that are broken. Keeping spare tiles from the original batch is really important. Since ceramic and porcelain tiles are man-made, there are slight variations in each batch.
If you have significantly damaged tiles and you don’t have any spares lying around, you’ll likely need to have all of your tiling replaced. Also, serious tile damage—that wasn’t caused by an accident—is probably an indication of a structural issue with your subfloor. You’ll need a trained professional to take a look at it.
When Did I Last Renovate?
If you’ve noticed damage to a tile that was just laid, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find a replacement from the same manufacturer if you act quickly. It’s also definitely not worthwhile to replace your entire tile floor or backsplash because of a small chip if the renovation is brand new. However, if you’ve been in your home for a while, or have never renovated, damage to your tiling could be a sign. Chips, cracks, or even worn and dirty grout all take away from your home’s aesthetic. Laying fresh tile in a more updated style could not only make your home’s interior more enjoyable to look at, but also boost its resale value.
Should I DIY Tile Repair?
Repairing a broken tile requires specific tools, materials, and time. It’s also important to note that you’ll only have one shot at properly making the repair. If you make a mistake, the tile will have to be replaced. Tile repair is a lengthy process that requires a steady hand and a lot of patience. If you’re practiced at DIY projects in your home, tile repair is a great skill to add to your proverbial tool belt.
However, if DIY isn’t really your thing—or you don’t have the time to complete the repair—the experts at Mr. Handyman of E Boulder, Broomfield, and Erie can help. Many of our technicians have more than a decade of experience working in construction and the trades. When it comes to repairing or replacing tile, we’re the professionals for the job.
To DIY tile repair, follow the below steps:
1. Use soap and warm water, bleach, or tile cleaner to clean the damaged tile and the surrounding area. Let it dry completely.
2. Mix together clear or white epoxy; following the manufacturer's instructions.
3. Cover the grout around the broken tile with painter’s tape so you don’t get epoxy on it.
4. Apply epoxy to the crack using a toothpick or craft stick in thin layers over a period of 30 minutes.
5. Apply two coats of paint that match your tile over the epoxy. Use a very small brush.
6. Let the paint cure; read the manufacturer's instructions to know how long that will take.
7. Use a water-based urethane to seal the paint. Apply three coats and let dry completely.
DIY Tile Replacement
If the tile is damaged beyond repair, then you’ll have to replace it. Just like repairing a broken tile, replacing it also takes a lot of patience, the right tools, and dedicated time. If you don’t have these resources—or the inclination to replace the tile on your own—our professional handymen can do it for you.
To DIY tile replacement, follow the below steps:
1. Use bleach, warm water and soap, or tile cleaner to clean the damaged area.
2. Wear safety goggles and use a grout saw to remove the old grout.
3. Frame the damaged tile with painter’s tape to protect the surrounding tiles.
4. Use a power drill to put four holes into the broken tile.
5. Use a hammer and a tile chisel to remove the loosened tile.
6. Also, use your hammer and chisel to remove any old adhesive.
7. Use a trowel to apply new adhesive to both the newly cleaned surface and the back of the new tile.
8. Gently place new tile; keep the spacing even on all sides.
9. Wait at least two hours for the new tile to set.
10. Mix your grout and use a rubber float at a 45-degree angle to apply.
11. Wait for the grout to dry, it should no longer feel tacky. Then use a damp sponge to wipe away any excess.
12. Do not walk on or apply pressure to the tile until it is dry in about 24 hours.
Hire Our Tile Repair Services Today!
Do you need tile repair services? Perhaps after reading this article you feel empowered to tackle your own DIY project. But if not, that’s okay too! Our handyman experts are pros when it comes to tile repair and replacement. When you need help to install a new tile floor, fix a chip in your shower, or re-grout your backsplash, we’re the best team for the job. To get started, give our courteous customer service representatives a call or reach out to us online.