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Last modified: 2020-12-10 | Approximate reading time 3 mins
Kitchen floors covered in ceramic tiles are a durable and low-maintenance option for any home. However durable, one slip of a hot pot could easily cause a crack in the tiles, leaving you with a partially broken floor. Luckily, this is an easy fix that can be done without destroying the entire floor.
Most homeowners can handle this DIY project, but it's important to be precise when replacing a tile and not get too “hammer-happy.” Following our step-by-step guide, anyone can quickly and comfortably replace a tile!
Grout is a fluid concrete that is used to fill in the gaps and seal joints around your tiles. In order to replace those broken tiles, the first step is to remove the existing grout that is holding them in place. To begin this process, make sure that you are wearing the correct safety glasses to protect your eyes from chips and dust that will arise during the removal process.
Rake out the grout around your broken tiles using a carbide-tipped scoring tool or a grout raker; both these items can be found at your local hardware store. Be extra cautious and make certain that a proper amount of pressure is applied when removing the grout. Applying too much pressure can lead to slipping or gouging surrounding tiles, and the point of this project is to fix things, not to make them worse!
Now that all of the grout has been removed, you can loosen the broken tiles from their place. It is important to first protect the tiles surrounding the broken ones. This can be done by applying painter's tape around the edges of the adjacent tiles, making sure the pieces of tape overlap slightly for ultimate protection. Once the intact tiles are safe and sound, drill holes into the broken tile sections with a ¼-inch ceramic bit. This helps to break up the tile, allowing the pieces to be freed from the substrate, and thus, you can chisel them out.
Using a hammer is a great form of stress relief, but this next step requires a little bit of finesse so don't go smashing that hammer into your floor just yet. Working from the centre and moving out toward the edges of the tiles, gently tap out broken pieces with your hammer and a narrow chisel. We are recommending the chisel be 3/8 or ¼ inch. If you don’t have a tile chisel in your home, a flat-blade or cold chisel can do the trick. Aim the chisel at a 90-degree angle to the floor, and penetrate the glaze.
Now, switch to a 45-degree angle to continue to chisel away allowing all pieces of the tile to become loose. Now, remove all pieces of the tile from the area. Once all tile is removed, use a wider chisel alongside the same removal technique in order to clean out the old substrate or hardened adhesive that will be revealed with the removal of the tile. This will leave a clean and smooth space for you to set the new tile neatly into.
Now it’s time for the fun part, as you’ll set the new tiles in place. First, apply a small amount of thinset mortar or another tile adhesive over the substrate. This will need to be combed over using a 1/4-inch notched trowel. Add thinset to the back of the new tile as well for the best adhesion possible. Set the tile in place by pressing firmly down, making sure it is levelled out with surrounding tiles. Adjust to make sure that spacing is even on all sides of the tile.
Fill in Joints
Once the tiles are placed and drying, wait at least two hours to take on this last part of the process. After 2 hours, the thinset should be cured, and you can mix up some grout to seal in those beautiful new tiles. Swipe the grout at a 45-degree angle using a rubber grout float. This will take about 15 minutes to harden, and when the grout is no longer tacky to touch, remove its excess with a damp sponge or cloth.
Try not to walk on this tile for at least 24 hours, as you’ll want the grout to completely dry in order to be sure that the grout is set in place. Voilà! Your tiles have been replaced and no one will ever know about that initial crack!
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