is one of the most durable flooring materials there is. With proper maintenance, it should last decades. No wonder ceramic tile is so widely used in the home
But every once in a while, you drop a heavy pot, your child thrashes around in the tub, or the subfloor shifts ever so slightly. Then you find it: a cracked or chipped tile staring up at you. Regardless of whether it's a hairline crack or a complete break, the tile becomes instantly vulnerable to further damage. You may be able to conceal it at first, but eventually you'll have to get to the root of the problem.
The only thing uglier than a cracked tile, in my opinion, is a poorly repaired one. You know the kind: uneven fragments of tile stuffed with grout. There's really no reason to have such an eyesore in your home, especially since replacing a ceramic tile is so much easier than it sounds:
If you were around for the installation, hopefully you've saved some of the leftover tiles for this very occasion. If you don't have any leftovers, bring the broken pieces to a tile store to see if they have anything close -- or if they know of a service that offers made-to-order replacement tiles.
Now you have to break the cracked tile into pieces without damaging the surrounding tiles. There are two ways to do this. One is to cover the tile with a rag and use a hammer to break it up. If the pieces are still stuck in the mortar, gently use a chisel to get them out. Then use a chisel or putty knife to scrape out much of the old adhesive, and a grout remover
to get rid of the surrounding grout. The other way is to use a grout saw manual grout removal tool
to remove the surrounding grout (be careful not to damage adjacent tiles). Then pry off the damaged tile with a chisel (use the rag and hammer trick above if it won't come out easily), scrape out the adhesive with a putty knife, and clean up remaining debris.
You're ready to set the new tile. Spread tile adhesive
over the back of your tile, but be sure not to add too much. You don't want it spilling over into the grout lines. Push the tile firmly into place and be sure it looks straight. Let it dry overnight or as long as the manufacturer recommends. The next day you'll be ready to grout!
Rubber grout float. Photo: Corbis
Make sure you use the same color grout
that you used initially, or it will be slightly off. If you don't know what grout was used, get some samples from your local home improvement store and test them out on a separate, disposable surface. When you've found the perfect match, use the edges of a rubber grout float to press the grout into the tile joints and smooth it out. When the grout is no longer tacky, clean up the excess with a damp sponge. Don't forget to seal the grout
after it is completely dry.
Here are more great tile tips:
Say goodbye to grout grime with natural DIY grout-cleaning cleaning solutions
These glass tiles for the home change color with heat exposure!
On the hunt for affordable tile for at-home applications? Check out 5 Great Resources for Tile
And check out this author's blog, Design Milk