Best Ways to Repair Chipped Tile

By Jean D , last updated March 3, 2011

Tile floors are sturdy, waterproof and easy to clean, but despite its durability tile can become chipped and cracked with time, so it is important to know the best ways to repair chipped tile. You can repair small, cosmetic cracks in just a few easy steps. However, if the damage is more extensive, or the damaged tile is located in an area that is often submerged, you might consider replacing the tile altogether. You'll protect your home from water damage, and keep the tile looking fresh and gleaming.

Minor Repairs

If the tile is only slightly damaged, you'll need:

  • An epoxy-based tile filler
  • Paint matching the color of your tile; you may need to test a small area of tile to ensure that the color is just right
  • A chopstick
  • Tile sealant

Mix together a daub of the tile filler and the paint. Apply this paste to the crack, and let dry for a few minutes. Wipe the area with a damp cloth to remove excess paint and filler. After the tile has completely dried, apply a coat of tile sealant to give your work a smooth finish.

Major Repairs

If your tile is too damaged to repair with a daub of epoxy, you'll need to replace it altogether. For this project, you'll need:

  • Cardboard and tape
  • A drill and 1/4-inch masonry drill bit
  • A hammer
  • A chisel
  • Small pry bar
  • Trowel
  • Mortar
  • Replacement tile
  • Grout

The hardest part of this project is finding replacement tile that matches your existing tile. Search your home to ensure that you have no tiles left over from your bathroom installation. If you do not, bring a small piece of broken tile with you to the hardware store. You may be able to special order a replacement tile if the store doesn't keep that color in stock.

Begin by protecting the surrounding tiles. Tape thick pieces of cardboard on the pieces of tile you want to retain. Use your drill and masonry bit to create a line of holes across the diagonal of the damaged tile. Place your chisel on that diagonal line of holes and lightly tap with your hammer. Remember to use gentle force here, so the surrounding tile isn't shattered by your work. As your tile begins to break apart, use the pry bar to pull up the tile and discard it. Do not use the surrounding tiles as a lever for your pry bar. Drill more holes if the tile isn't loose. Use your chisel to chip away the old grout from the hole you've created. Clean the area thoroughly, to ensure no debris remains. Spread a 1/4-inch-thick layer of mortar on the back of your replacement tile and seat it into the hole you've created. Place a cardboard piece on the new tile and step on it, to ensure it is flat and seated. Follow the manufacturer's directors regarding dry time. Once that time has passed, apply a layer of grout around all edges of the tile. Allow the grout to dry, per the manufacturer's instructions, and wipe with a damp cloth to remove excess grout.

Your tile floor will look as good as new.

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