How to Fix Cracked Tile
Time Required: Under 2 hours
Aside from being unsightly, cracked floor tile creates an opening that can allow moisture to reach the subfloor. In damp areas, such as the bathroom, repairing cracked tile should be done sooner rather than later to reduce the risk of water damage.
This guide outlines how to fix cracked tile, or, if necessary, remove and replace broken tile on your floor. You may be able to patch a hairline crack, but a bigger break will need a replacement tile.
Minor cracks can be repaired with a small amount of epoxy and some paint.
- Remove any debris from the crack and then use tile cleaner or dish detergent to remove any dust and grease. Wipe clean with a cloth and allow the tile – and the crack – to dry thoroughly.
- Use a clear epoxy. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for mixing, if necessary.
- Place enough epoxy on a piece of cardboard.
- Apply the epoxy directly into the split, using a toothpick for a hairline crack or a craft stick for a wider crack.
- Use the flat edge of a craft stick across the crack to level the epoxy, and scape away excess from the tile. Work quickly but carefully and remove residue from the tile surface.
- Allow the epoxy to cure according to package instructions.
- Apply a small amount of oil or urethane-based paint matching the tile color to the dried epoxy. Use careful strokes with a fine crafting paintbrush. Allow it to fully dry.
- Brush urethane sealer over the paint patch to prevent peeling and allow it to fully dry.
When patching cracked tile isn’t an effective solution, replace damaged tile with a new piece following a straightforward process.
Tip: Wear safety goggles to prevent dust from entering your eyes. Broken tile has sharp edges and can injure your hands, so wear heavy work gloves while handling.
- Place a dust sheet around the work area.
- Use a handheld grout saw around the edge of the cracked tile to scrape away its grout and prevent damage to adjacent tiles.
- When all of the grout is removed from around the broken tile, cover it with a drop cloth.
- Using a hammer, firmly tap the cracked tile to break it into smaller pieces.
- Carefully remove the pieces, using a chisel to pry them from the adhesive that bonded the tile to the surface.
- Use a chisel and hammer to chip away the old adhesive from the floor, being careful to not damage any backer board or the subfloor.
- Clear debris and dust from the vacant space using a wet/dry vacuum to leave a smooth and even surface.
Now, use pre-mixed thin-set motar to bond the new tile into place.
- Spread the thin-set onto the bare floor using the flat edge of a 1/4-inch notched trowel.
- Then, go over it with the notched edge to create ridges in the adhesive.
- Keeping the new tile flat, carefully drop it into place. Putting one edge in first can shift the even layer of adhesive.
- Line up the edges with adjacent tiles and press down evenly.
- Allow the thin-set to cure according to the package instructions. It usually requires 24 hours but quick-drying varieties can cure in a couple hours.
Tip: Consider using an all-in-one pre-mixed adhesive and grout for small, one-time projects.
For a small job like replacing a broken tile, use pre-mixed grout.
- Stir the grout to eliminate any settling and to loosen the material for easier application.
- Work the grout into the seam using a grout float. Move the float across the seam diagonally – rather than along the gap – to avoid pulling the grout out.
- After about 15 minutes, use a damp sponge on the surface of the tile to remove grout residue.
- Wait a couple hours and then buff the tile with a clean, dry cloth.
- Avoid putting any pressure on the new tile for 24-hours.
- When fully dry, use a grout sealant to prevent water damage and to limit future staining.