Tile Repair

Dear NH,
I have a repair problem that I have not been able to find a solution to although I have spent many hours researching on the web and talking to local tile repair people. The ceramic tile on my floor, installed in 1986, has one tile that is badly cracked. I was told it is impossible to replace because the entire floor may crack.

I had bought a product to repair ceramic tile, which is like paint. However, the color doesn't match and it has a shiny finish while my tile has a matte finish. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

I can't imagine to whom you have been talking - no tile guy I know, for sure! Ceramic tiles are the easiest type of floor to repair. Not effortless (since it can require some strength and patience), but rather easy in the "aesthetic" sense. If you have a matching tile and can get a close-enough grout color, the repair will over time become absolutely invisible as the grout ages. The hardest part in my experience is getting a color match for the tile unless you are lucky enough to have a box hidden somewhere in the basement!

Having worked on many tile repair jobs, the only situation that I can recall where a "small" tile repair cannot be done is if all the tiles were installed poorly. Occasionally, I will encounter a floor that was installed using "thinset", a Portland cement-based tile adhesive. It is a powder and must be mixed on-site with cool water. Sometimes if too dry of a mix is used, too much moisture will be drawn off into the subfloor (plywood or cement slab) and a very weak bond will form. Then during repair, the entire floor will begin to loosen up when one tile is removed! Even trying to loosen the grout will sometimes cause adjacent tiles to dislodge. This "Rube Goldberg" scenario can cause a single tile repair to grow to an entire floor replacement! Other than that, I can't imagine a tile job where a single tile cannot be extracted successfully.

Have a small home repair question for THE NATURAL HANDYMAN? Just click here NaturalHandyman.com/aitikia. For more home repair information, visit NH's growing list of original home repair articles and quality links NaturalHandyman.com. If this information has been valuable to you, please consider making a small donation to support NH's free service to the home repair community! For more information, please visit our "Friends" page NaturalHandyman.com/Friends.

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