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Tile Repair 101: Everything You Should Know

Tiles are truly a beautiful material to add to the design of your Northern Virginia home. Whether you have a stunning array of glass tiles as your kitchen backsplash or large ceramic tiles in your bathroom, you can’t go wrong with this durable and water resistant material.

However, as strong as most tile varieties are, occasionally you might still need tile repair services.

For instance, say your kids were playing and accidentally knocked over a heavy kitchen stool. While muttering under your breath that you’ve asked them not to run in the kitchen, you bend to put the stool back into place and notice your tile floor has been cracked.

As frustrating as it is to see damage in your home, luckily there is a solution. Whether you choose to DIY the tile repair or hire the pros at Mr. Handyman of Northern Virginia, it’s worth learning a little more about how tile gets damaged and what to do when you notice a problem.

Continue reading to discover what you need to know about tile repair and benefit from our expert Northern Virginia handyman tips if you choose to fix the damage on your own.

What Causes Damaged Tile?

There are many ways your ceramic, porcelain, or natural stone tiles can chip or crack. For instance:

  • Accidents happen: Although tiling is very durable, it can still crack under pressure. For instance, say a heavy ornament or piece of furniture falls on your tile floor. Likewise, pushing a heavy cast iron pan against your kitchen backsplash a little too hard might cause damage.

  • Worsening over time: Sometimes, knocking over a heavy decoration might dent your tile floor, without actually cracking the tile. Yet, if left unattended that small dent can get worse. It might only take a pet or loved one walking across the damaged tile for it to crack.

  • Cracks in the subfloor: If your tile has cracked but you don’t recall dropping anything on it, it may be that the issue is actually with your subfloor. Part of many Northern Virginia homes’ subfloors is a layer of concrete. Although concrete is very strong, it’s prone to cracking. While generally concrete is laid to crack over control joints to mitigate the damage, if your contractor didn’t lay the joints properly the cracking concrete could impact your tile.

  • Incorrectly installed joists: Your subfloor rests on top of joists. The joists support everything above, including the subfloor, your topfloor, and anything that goes on it—like furniture, pets, and people. If the joists weren’t built closely enough together, the tile on your topfloor won't be properly supported. This will cause the tile to bend and eventually crack.

Why Should You Repair Tiles As Soon As Possible?

When a small tile cracks in your shower or countertop, it might not seem like a huge deal. However, there are a few reasons why you should have damaged tile repaired as soon as possible:

  • Unattractive aesthetic: After investing time and money into your beautiful tile floor or backsplash, it’s a shame to then live with a broken tile marring it’s otherwise perfect composition.

  • Safety hazard: Broken tiles are sharp, and it only takes one little foot or paw to touch a cracked tile to get hurt. Likewise, if your shower tiling is damaged, you run the risk of not only cutting your foot in the shower, but also slipping on the wet surface as a result of your injury.

  • Water damage: Ceramic and porcelain tiles are water resistant. However, when the tiles become cracked or chipped, water can seep through those gaps and damage your subfloor. This is especially problematic if the damaged tile is located in the bathroom. Water damage is a much more extensive and costly repair than hiring tile repair services.

How Do I Know If I Should Hire Tile Repair Services?

Keep your family and your home safe by repairing damaged tile right away. When hiring tile repair services, consider the following to know if the tile can be fixed or replaced:

How Bad is the Damage?

A small dent of chip in your tile is an easy repair for a professional handyman. And, if you are proactive and saved spare tiles from your renovation, an expert should be able to remove the broken tile and replace it with a new one from the same batch. However, if you have multiple tiles that are damaged or an issue with your subfloor, a simple tile repair job won’t cut it. Rather, you may have to replace your floor, backsplash, or shower interior entirely.

Did You Keep Tiles from the Original Installation?

As mentioned above, replacing a single damaged tile is significantly easier if you saved a few spares from the initial batch. A pro-tip is to ensure you buy a few extra tiles each time you renovate. Even if you know the type and color of tile you need, given that tiles are handmade it can be tricky to buy an exact match. Each batch will be slightly different. You can also ask your contractor or the previous homeowner if they saved any tiles from when your floor or backsplash was installed.

Are You Practiced at DIY Tasks?

Repairing a broken tile requires specific tools, materials, and dedicated time to fix the damage properly. Also, you’ll only have one shot at correctly fixing chips, cracks, or dents in your tile. It’s a lengthy process that takes a steady hand and a lot of patience. Like any home repair task, the more practiced you are, the better. Even if you love DIY projects, you might be short on time and prefer that an expert from Mr. Handyman of Northern Virginia handles your tile repair needs instead.

What Are the Different Kinds of Tile?

There are many kinds of tiles that could be in your Northern Virginia home. Each has unique properties and benefits. Our team of tile repair experts are highly skilled at fixing and installing a range of tile varieties, including:

  • Ceramic: Ceramic is one of the most common tile varieties found in Northern Virginia homes. The reason why ceramic is such a popular choice is because it’s inexpensive to create, easy to install and clean, and highly durable. Ceramic tiles also offer a lot of choice when it comes to color, size, and shape.

  • Porcelain: Porcelain is also a very popular tile choice for kitchens and bathrooms. Like ceramic tile, porcelain is man-made, durable, and easy to use. It’s also stronger than ceramic because porcelain is denser.

  • Slate: Slate is a natural stone, and is highly durable and scratch-resistant. Although slate is a beautiful tiling option that increases the resale value of your home, it’s tricky to install because it’s very heavy.

  • Glass: As far as durability goes, glass tiles are as strong as ceramic and equally easy to clean. Plus, glass is a truly stunning material available in a variety of styles that adds a chic look to any home.

  • Laminate: Laminate may not be a stone tile, but it’s designed to replicate the look of ceramic. Laminate consists of layers of a synthetic product topped with a photographic applique top layer to emulate real tile. Laminate is highly durable, water resistant, and inexpensive. If your laminate tile chips, it’s best to replace the entire plank.

  • Vinyl: Vinyl tile is made out of PVC, a type of plastic. For this reason, vinyl is inexpensive to install, as well as water, scratch, and stain resistant. However, vinyl is also a less eco-friendly option than ceramic or porcelain tile.

How Do I Repair Tile DIY?

If you have DIY experience, you might be interested in repairing a chipped or cracked tile on your own. That said, if you don’t have the time or would rather trust the tile repair task to the professionals, we invite you to contact our experts. Many of the team members at Mr. Handyman of Northern Virginia 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.

Only One Chance

If you’re trying to decide whether you should call in the pros or DIY your tile repair job, keep in mind that you’ll only have one shot at properly fixing the damaged tile. If you have a spare tile, it’s worth practicing first to get a feel for the repair.

To DIY tile repair, follow the below steps:

1. Clean up the area. Use soap and warm water, bleach, or tile cleaner to clean the damaged tile and surrounding area. Let it dry completely.

2. Mix your epoxy. Follow the manufacturer's instructions and mix either a clear or white epoxy.

3. Avoid the grout. Use painters’ tape to cover the existing grout, so you don’t get epoxy on it.

4. Apply the epoxy. Apply epoxy to the damaged area using a toothpick or craft stick in thin layers over a period of 30 minutes.

5. Paint the epoxy. Use a small paint brush to apply two coats of paint that matches your tile over the epoxy.

6. Let the paint cure. This process could take a few days or a few hours. Read the manufacturer's instructions to know what to expect.

7. Seal with urethane. Use a water-based urethane to cover the paint with three coats and let dry completely.

How Do I Replace Tile DIY?

If the tile is damaged beyond repair, the next option is to replace the individual tile. This requires patience, specific tools, and—if possible—an extra tile from the original batch. Our pros are highly adept at replacing tiles, so if you're not confident in doing it yourself, we’re happy to help.

To DIY tile replacement, follow the steps below:

1. Clean the area. Using bleach, warm water and soap, or tile cleaner, carefully clean the damaged area.

2. Remove the grout. Use a grout saw to remove the grout. Wear safety goggles.

3. Apply painter’s tape. Apply painter’s tape around the damaged tile to protect the surrounding area.

4. Loosen the tile. Use a power drill to put four holes into the broken tile. This loosens the tile and makes it easier to chisel out the remaining pieces.

5. Chisel out the pieces. Use a hammer and tile chisel to remove the remaining tile. Start from the center and work your way out.

6. Clean out old adhesive. Use your chisel to remove any old adhesive.

7. Apply thin set mortar. Apply the adhesive to both the newly cleaned surface and the back of the new tile with a trowel.

8. Place the new tile. Gently put the new tile into position—keep the spacing even on all sides.

9. Let the new tile cure. Wait at least two hours for the new tile to set.

10. Apply the grout. Mix your grout and use rubber float at a 45-degree angle to swipe the grout across the spaces on the perimeter of the tile.

11. Wipe away excess grout. Wait for the grout to dry, it should no longer feel tacky. Then, wipe away any excess using a damp sponge.

12. Let the grout dry. Do not walk on or apply pressure to the tile for 24 hours.

Hire Our Tile Repair Services Today!

We hope this article has helped you feel empowered to tackle your DIY tile repair or to call the team at Mr. Handyman of Northern Virginia. Should the latter be the case, our hardworking and skillful team is ready to help you with any tile repair or replacement task you might have. When you want to install a new tile floor, fix a chipped part of your backsplash, or update the tile in your bathroom, we are the team for the job.

We invite you to give us a call at 703-621-4817 or request a service online to get started today.