If you’ve got porcelain or ceramic tiles in your kitchen, bathroom, or maybe in your laundry room and one of them has come loose, cracked, or damaged, here’s how to replace that tile step by step.
Obviously, getting out a professional to do this for you is probably the easiest and most hassle-free way of getting the job done. However, for the avid DIYer, you save yourself some money by doing some of the smaller repair jobs.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell if a tile is damaged but other times it’s very obvious.
But before you get started, you have to take some precautions. Wear some gloves and protect your eyes with either goggles or safety glasses. Wear a long-sleeved shirt too.
Tiles can shatter much like glass with small shards can fly anywhere when you smack it. These can potentially cause some harm and cut your skin, so don’t take it for granted. Also, protect your lungs by wearing a respirator if you can. Nowadays, everyone has a mask of some sort so don’t neglect any safety precautions you can take.
Removing the grout will always be the first step. There is a multitude of tools that you can use to remove the grout for example a manual grout saw or carbine-tipped knife. Of course, the easiest way to remove grout is with an oscillating power tool with a grout removal attachment.
If you’re going to use such a tool, be sure to wear some hearing protection too. Now, keep in mind that this process will turn the grout into a fine powder. It does an awesome job of removing the grout. And if it gets too dusty, you can use a vacuum while you’re using the multi-tool. Equally, you can consider turning on the bathroom ventilation fan to help out with the dust.
Whatever tool you use to remove grout, be careful not to gouge any of the neighboring tiles.
Use some painter tape and string a few lines across the center of the tile. This will help the drill grip and make the holes.
Then, use something like a ¼” carbide-tipped ceramic drill bit to make some pilot holes into the center of the tile. The tape will also help to prevent pieces of tile from splintering all over the place.
Once you have the holes done, start with a small chisel and chip away slowly at the tile.
You can switch from the smaller chisel to a larger chisel once you start making some good progress.
Take your time so that you don’t end up damaging the surrounding tiles. You know you’ve gone deep enough when you start to see ridge marks in the area behind the tiles. This indicates the mortar that was used to adhere the tile to the substrate.
Now you have to remove all the dirt and excess mortar. It’s important to clean out any area and flatten out the surface so that the new tile will sit flush in its new space. Once you think the space and clean and prepared, you should dry-fit the tile to test if it’s a good fit. You definitely have to use a level to ensure the new tile is straight.
Ensure that, once you dry-fit the tile into its space, it sits slightly lower than the surrounding tiles. This will ensure that, once you add some new mortar as adhesive, the tiles will all line up.
Apply some mortar in the area where the tile will be set. You should also apply some mortar to the back of the tile. This will ensure it doesn’t go anywhere.
Set the tile and remove any excess mortar that might have been pushed up when setting the tile. Make sure you get it immediately because once it sets it’s much harder to clean.
Ensure that your tile is set straight and all your corners or patterns line up. Then, leave the tile to set for 3-4 hours.
Apply some new grouting between the tiles. Once the grout has been set up, use a sponge to clean it up with a bucket of water. You have to get all the grout off any of the tile surfaces before it sets.
The final step is to apply some grout sealer to ensure your tiles are set correctly and will last for a long time.