Repairing Damaged Ceramic Tile

Tile is durable, but it can be damaged. Improper installation, poor adhesive bonds, and falling objects can cause it to crack or chip. Repairs start with removing the grout and tile. Before replacing them, diagnose the problem to see if you need to make structural repairs to prevent subsequent damage.


If the grout is soft and powdery, remove it and regrout. If the cracked grout is hard, remove it and fill the joint with a matching colored caulk. Cracked tiles on a long length of floor are caused by either a faulty adhesive bond or an underlying crack. Before you remove the tiles, tap them lightly with a metal object, such as a wrench. If you hear a hollow sound, the bond is probably at fault. A thorough cleaning and new mortar will fix the problem. If the wrench "rings," the bond is probably solid; you may need to isolate the crack with a membrane.

Prestart Checklist

About 1 1/2 hours to remove and replace grout and tile, at least a day to regrout a large area

Grout saw or utility knife, small sledgehammer and cold chisel, putty knife or margin trowel

Breaking tile with a hammer and cold chisel, driving fasteners, troweling

Replacement tiles, thinset, grout, tape

Step 1

To repair damaged tile, remove the grout with a grout knife. Using a small sledgehammer and cold chisel, break the tile, working from the center to the edges. Wear eye protection.

Step 2

Pull out the chips of broken tile. Scrape up the fine pieces with a margin trowel or putty knife. Using the same tool, scrape off any adhesive remaining in the recess. Dust out or vacuum the area so the adhesive bonds securely.

Step 3

Using a margin trowel or wide putty knife, apply adhesive in the recess. Use the same general type of adhesive (mastic or thinset) as the original.

Step 4

Back-butter the replacement tile with a margin trowel or putty knife and push the tile into the recess until the adhesive oozes from the grout joints. Check the tile for level with the rest of the surface, wipe off the excess adhesive, and let it cure.

Comments (2)
rambguzman46 wrote:

If I want to put a design into existing tile floor how do I cut it out?

9/5/2010 10:17:40 AM Report Abuse
reidfamilyfarm wrote:

is this technique the same for removing tiles off wallboard?i am concerned about damaging the drywall behind the tile

8/7/2010 07:23:15 AM Report Abuse
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