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Ceramic tile repair: Take care of chips and cracks yourself!

If you need to repair ceramic tiles in your kitchen or your bathroom, you don’t necessarily have to call the professionals. Find out about different types of damage and how to fix the problem yourself quickly and inexpensively.

Defining the damage

Determining the type of damage helps you devise the proper strategy for your ceramic tile repair project. You can seal smaller cracks and chips to prevent further damage. For larger flaws, your best option is removing the tile and starting from square one.

Ceramic tile repair

Removing tiles

If you only need to seal a crack, jump to the section on sealing tiles. Before you get started, gather your tools. You will need a hammer and chisel, safety goggles, gloves, a long-sleeved shirt, and a brush or a broom to sweep up excess residue as you work and afterwards.

Remove grout around the tile using a hammer and chisel. Wear safety goggles, gloves, and a long-sleeved shirt to keep yourself free of dust and residue.

Remove the tile. Depending on how accessible your tile is, you may need to break it (use a drill, hammer, and chisel) and insert a new one. You can try to preserve the tile by freeing it as follows: wedge your chisel under a corner and carefully use the hammer to pry the tile away. Repeat the process at the other corners and along accessible sides; focusing on one area can cause cracks.

This process works better for projects where you need to replace or repair several adjacent tiles.

Chisel away backer and other substrates so you can apply fresh material under your tile.

Inserting tiles

Before you get started, gather your level, some mortar, and a trowel, and remember your gloves and safety goggles.

Dry-fit the tile. Use a level to make sure the tile sits lower than the surrounding ones; you still need to add mortar before inserting the tile.

Apply mortar to the gap with a trowel. Apply it to the back of the tile as well for extra adhesion.

Insert the tile. Make sure all corners line up and your tile is level. Remove excess mortar before it dries. Let the mortar set.

Spread new grout into the joints using a trowel or grout tool and remove excess. Clean away any excess with a sponge and wet water before the grout dries on the tile.

Seal the grout with the proper sealant.

Sealing cracks

This section tells you how to seal small chips and cracks to prevent further damage.

Prepare the surfaces. Make sure all surfaces you want to seal are clean and dry.

Application. To seal a chip/crack and prevent further damage, apply your sealant to the gap and wipe away excess.

Clean up. Clean your applicator, and remove excess sealant from your tile using a sharp blade, acetone, or boiling water.