Using Existing Floor Tile as Substrate

This story shows how to repair damaged tile if you will be using existing floor tile as substrate.

Step 1

Existing tile works well as a substrate, but you'll need to repair any damaged sections. Remove the grout from the damaged tile with a grout knife. With a high-quality hammer or small sledge and cold chisel, break the tile, working from the center to the edges. Wear eye protection.

Step 2

Pull out the 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 or vacuum the area so the thinset can bond securely with the floor.

Step 3

Using a margin trowel or wide putty knife, apply adhesive in the recess. If possible, use the same general type of adhesive as the original mastic or thinset.

Step 4

Back-butter a replacement tile using a margin trowel or putty knife, and push the tile into the recess until the adhesive oozes up from the grout joints. Make sure the tile is level with the rest of the floor, wipe off the excess thinset, and let it cure.

Step 5

Use a sanding block and a coarse grit of abrasive paper to roughen the entire surface of the tile. This will give the tile a "tooth" for the adhesive and strengthen its bond with the floor.

Step 6

With a margin trowel or mason's trowel, spread a thin layer of thinset across the entire surface of the floor. Make sure the grout joints are level with the surface of the tile.

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