Monday, March 23, 2009

How to replace a cracked tile

The cracked tile we were replacing was underneath our toilet, so we decided we would buy a new toilet and then replace the tile. The first thing you want to do, it take everything you can out of the bathroom. To remove the tile, you will need:
  1. Safety glasses--very important!!
  2. Work gloves
  3. An old towel--one you don't mind throwing away
  4. A hammer
  5. A grout digger--looks like a screwdriver with a triangular head
  6. A flat head screwdriver
  7. A multi-tool--looks like a spatula with all kinds of groves on the sides
The first thing you want to do is use the grout digger to get as much of the grout as possible out of the area surrounding the tile. This will make it a lot easier to get the tile out and will save you tons of time scraping once you get the tile out. Next, place the towel over the cracked tile and hit it with the hammer. Make sure you're not hitting any of the surrounding tiles, or you may end up replacing more than just one. Pieces of the tile should start coming loose.

Once you get a few pieces up, you can use the multi-tool or the screw driver to work under the loose pieces. Keep hammering until the entire tile is in pieces or pretty loose. Use the multi-tool to get up the remaining chunks of tile.

At this point, you're going to use the multi-tool to get the mortar off of the cement board or cement. Make sure if you have cement board that you're not scraping off the mesh. You can use the flat head screw driver and a hammer to chip any remaining grout off of the surrounding tiles. You should also make sure that all of the screws are set into the cement board. Some of ours were sticking up, which may have been the initial cause of the tile crack. We brought the screws up and then redrilled them to make sure they were sunken into the board. Sweep and vacuum up all of the dirt and debris. Now you're ready for the new tile.

To set the new tile you will need:
  1. Mortar
  2. Grout
  3. Trowel
  4. Spackle spatula
  5. Bucket with warm water
  6. Sponge
  7. Float
  8. Wet saw
  9. Tile trimmer
  10. Level
  11. Spacers
Since our tile only needed a little bit trimmed off of the corner, we just used the tile trimmer to get a good fit. Otherwise, you will have to make a template on your tile and cut with a wet saw. Once the tile was trimmed, we did a dry fit to make sure the tile was not sitting on the black rubber ring for the toilet.

Next, we applied the mortar to the area. We used a remixed mortar and I find it easiest to apply first with a Spackle spatula and then use the trowel to put the tracks into the mortar. Apply mortar to the back of the tile to get better adhesion. Place the tile in the space and slide it back and forth to allow the mortar to grip the tile. Use level to make sure the tile is even and adjust as necessary. If the tile is not installed level, it may crack again.

Once the tile is leveled, put spacers in and clean up all of the mortar on the tile and in the grout lines. A small flat head screwdriver is useful for getting in between the tiles. Let the mortar dry 24 hours before you grout.

We used a premixed sanded grout that is stain-resistant. Since it was a small area, I packed it directly into the grout lines with the spackle spatula and then smoothed with a wet tile sponge. (For a larger area, you would use a Float to apply and remove excess grout.) Make sure you get as much of the grout up as you can, because once it dries, it's hard to get up. Let the grout dry for 24 hours and after that, it's safe to walk on.

Happy remodeling!

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