8 Tile Floor Repair Tips

Photo; Rubber Dragon/flickrTile 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 DIY 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. If the color of the tile floor repair darkens over time, 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. Tiles that are cracked badly or have missing chunks need to be replaced. In an ideal world, you'd have ordered extra tiles as spares when the floor was installed. If that didn't happen, remove the broken tile piece and try to match it at a tile supplier's. Tile styles come and go, so you may not find an exact lookalike. In that case, consider creating a decor accent such as a tile carpet.

  5. Outdated or worn tile. If your floor's begun to show signs of wear or you've grown tired of its outdated style, refresh it with paint.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 tile 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 of bigger trouble to come ... like loosened adhesive or water penetration leading to rot in wood subflooring. Nip these in the bud; remove and replace old grout. Avoid walking on fresh grout 48-72 hours to allow curing; then seal against dirt and damp. When replacing grout in a shower stall, wait an extra 24-72 hours so both grout and sealant dry thoroughly before you use the shower. 

  8. Tile floor that requires 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.

If you'd prefer not to DIY, hire a professional tile contractor for expert tile repair and replacement.

Laura Firszt writes for networx.com.

Updated December 30, 2018.

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