House & Home

8 Tile Floor Repair Tips

Posted January 29, 2015

Tile floors have a lot going for them. They're handsome, durable, and easy care. To add even more to their appeal, individual floor tiles are also relatively simple to repair or replace if they become damaged. This means that you'll avoid the bother -- and the expense -- of installing a new floor.

Here are 8 common tiled floor problems and their solutions:

  1. Small chips in tile. Find a shade of nail polish to match the tile (with today's range of offbeat polish colors, that shouldn't be too difficult -- and you can mix shades to get the hue you're looking for). Dab it delicately onto the chipped spot. The color of the tile floor repair may darken over time; if so, remove with acetone and redo this quick fix.
  2. Larger chips or holes in tile. Pack large chips or holes in your tile floor with ceramic filler, blending colors as necessary to make an inconspicuous patch job. When dry, sand smooth and protect with a coat of lacquer.
  3. Cracked tile. Use siliconized caulk to fill in tile floor cracks. If the caulk is unsightly after drying, you can paint it so that it blends in with the tile design. Oil- or urethane-based paint will stand up best to foot traffic.
  4. Broken tile. When floor tiles are cracked badly or have missing chunks, they will need to be replaced. In an ideal world, you'd have ordered extra tiles as spares at the time of the original installation. If that didn't happen, however, you can remove the broken tile piece and try to match it at a tile supplier's. Ceramic tile colors and designs come and go, so you may not be able to find an exact lookalike. In that case, consider using a complementary pattern to create a decor accent such as a tile carpet.
  5. Outdated or worn tile. If your floor has begun to show signs of wear or you have grown tired of its outdated style, you can refresh it with paint. Prepare the floor by scrubbing well, followed by lightly sanding the surface. Use a roller or sprayer to cover the old tiles with oil- or urethane-based paint. Cure for at least 24 hours and then seal your newly painted tile floor with floor finish.
  6. Loose tile. Pry up loose floor tile with a chisel or putty knife. Work slowly and carefully to avoid breakage. Remove the old adhesive from the subflooring. Then coat the subfloor and the underside of the tile with new adhesive before replacing the tile in its former location.
  7. Stained, Crumbling, or Cracked Grout. Grout problems not only make your tile look ugly, they can be a warning sign of bigger trouble yet to come ... such as loosened tile adhesive or water penetration that will lead to rot in wooden subflooring. Nip these in the bud by removing the old grout and replacing it with a fresh application. Avoid walking on the new grout for 48-72 hours according to the manufacturer's directions, to allow it time to cure; then seal it against dirt and moisture. When the grout replacement is in a shower stall, you will have to wait an additional 24-72 hours before using the shower to ensure that both grout and sealant are thoroughly dry.
  8. Tile floor that needs complete replacement. Would you like to completely replace, rather than repair, your tile floor? Here's a trick to make the process easier. If the existing tiled surface is reasonably sound, just clean it, dry, and apply your new tiles right on top. You'll save the time, trouble and mess of removing the old flooring.

Laura Firszt writes for

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