Tough Break
Steps // How to Replace a Broken Tile
1 ×

Remove the Grout

 
Step One // How to Replace a Broken Tile

Remove the Grout

remove the grout with a carbide-tipped scoring tool
Photo by William A. Boyd

• Put on safety glasses to protect your eyes from chips and dust, then rake out the grout around the broken tile using a carbide-tipped scoring tool.

• Apply just enough pressure to remove the grout but not so much that a slip will gouge the neighboring tiles.

 
2 ×

Loosen the Tile

 
Step Two // How to Replace a Broken Tile

Loosen the Tile

loosen the tile, painters tape and drill
Photo by William A. Boyd

• Apply painter's tape around the edges of the adjacent tiles to protect them.

• Drill evenly spaced holes into the tile's broken sections with a 1/4-inch ceramic bit. This helps free the pieces from the substrate and makes them easier to chisel out.

 
3 ×

Chisel Out the Pieces

 
Step Three // How to Replace a Broken Tile

Chisel Out the Pieces

chisel out the pieces
Photo by William A. Boyd

• Working from the center out toward the edges, gently tap out the broken pieces with a hammer and a narrow (3/8- or 1/4-inch) chisel. If you don't have a tile chisel, a cold chisel or even a flat-blade screwdriver will also do the job. Start with the chisel at 90 degrees to the floor, then switch to a 45-degree angle after you penetrate the glaze.

• Once the broken tile is removed, use a wider chisel to clean all the old thinset off the substrate. The same technique applies for all substrates, including mortar, cement backerboard, or plywood.

 
4 ×

Set the New Tile

 
Step Four // How to Replace a Broken Tile

Set the New Tile

set the new tile using thinset mortar
Photo by William A. Boyd

• Comb a small amount of thinset mortar over the substrate in straight furrows using a 1/4-inch notched trowel.

• For best adhesion, also butter the back of the new tile with thinset.

• Set the tile in place and press down firmly to level it with the surrounding tile. Adjust it so the spacing is even on all sides.

 
5 ×

Fill the Joint with Grout

 
Step Five // How to Replace a Broken Tile

Fill the Joint with Grout

Swiping grout into the joints with a rubber grout float
Photo by William A. Boyd

• Wait at least two hours for the thinset to cure, then mix up a batch of grout.

• Swipe the grout into the joints with a rubber grout float held at a 45-degree angle, then wait 15 minutes for it to harden.

• When the grout no longer feels tacky to the touch, clean off the excess with a damp sponge.

 
6 ×

Allow the Grout to Dry

 
Step Six // How to Replace a Broken Tile

Allow the Grout to Dry

repaired ceramic tile
Photo by William A. Boyd

• Don't walk on the tile for 24 hours.

 
 

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