29 Nov 2023, Read Time : 6 Min

How To Repair a Cracked Tile Without Replacing

A broken tile in the middle of a tiled floor.

Floor Tiles can develop chips and cracks over time due to various reasons, such as heavy objects falling on them, subtle shifts in the bathroom wall substrate resulting in hairline cracks, or improper tile installation. If you have special tiles that are irreplaceable, the good news is that you often don’t need to replace the entire tiled area. Instead, you can successfully repair the chipped or cracked tiles, making the difference hardly noticeable.

 

Tile flooring is renowned for its durability, primarily due to its inherent hardness. However, this very hardness can make it susceptible to cracks. Factors like poor installation or the impact of heavy objects can lead to these vulnerabilities. The great news is that many cracked tiles can be repaired without the necessity of removing and replacing the entire tile.

Before You Begin

The feasibility of repairing a cracked tile depends on the extent of the damage and its cause. If a tile has a hairline crack resulting from a minor incident like a dinner plate falling on it, it’s likely repairable without tile removal. However, if the tile broke due to being stepped on or because furniture was not gently placed on it, the crack may be a result of improper installation and an uneven substrate. In such cases, attempting a repair can lead to further damage and is not advisable.

 

It’s essential to understand that if a tile is chipped, shattered, or broken beyond a thin crack, it should be removed and replaced. 

Safety Considerations

A woman in a gas mask holding a cup of paint.

The process of repairing a tile crack involves the use of epoxy, which can be harmful to the skin until it cures. When working with epoxy, it’s vital to wear gloves, a mask rated for fumes, and eye protection. If possible, ensure proper ventilation by opening windows. While the epoxy cures, it’s recommended to block off the area to prevent access by children and pets who might touch the uncured epoxy.

Materials and Equipment You’ll Need

Equipment / Tools:

  • Gloves
  • Fumes-rated mask
  • Eye protection
  • Small paintbrush

Materials:

  • Dish soap
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Rag
  • Two-part clear epoxy
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Toothpicks (optional)
  • Oil- or urethane-based paint
  • Clear urethane sealer
  • Cardboard

Steps

Cracked Tile – How to Repair It Without Replacing It

A person cleaning a tile floor with a yellow sponge.

  1. Clean the Damaged Tile:
  • Begin by vacuuming the tile and the surrounding area.
  • Scrub the tile with a solution of dish soap and water, focusing on removing any dirt, grime, or debris from the crack.
  • Ensure the area is entirely dry, then clean it once more using rubbing alcohol to thoroughly eliminate any grease and grime.
  • Note: Exercise caution when cleaning around a cracked tile, as excessive water can penetrate the tile. If the tile is repaired with trapped moisture, it can potentially cause damage.
  1. Mix the Two-Part Epoxy:
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to mix the two-part epoxy. For many two-part epoxy options, this process involves squeezing the two parts out of a double-sided syringe or two individual tubes onto a cardboard surface. Thoroughly mix the components using a small, disposable item like a popsicle stick.
  1. Apply the Epoxy to the Crack:
  • Use another popsicle stick or an ice cream/candy stick to spread the epoxy into the crack. In some cases, the crack might be extremely thin, and an ice cream stick may prove to be futile in such cases. In such cases, a knitting needle or a toothpick to fill the crack with the epoxy thoroughly will be useful. Ensure that the coverage is at least 1/8th of an inch and on both sides of the crack. Smoothen the epoxy with an ice cream stick to make it look good.
  • If the crack is exceptionally thin, a toothpick may work better. Ensure that the crack is completely filled, providing around 1/8 inch of coverage on each side of the crack. Smooth the epoxy so that it’s flush with the tile surface.
  1. Check the Epoxy:
  • Once the epoxy has cured, gently tap it with a popsicle stick to ensure it has fully hardened.
  1. Paint the Crack:
  • Utilise a small paintbrush to paint the crack, matching the colour and pattern of the tile. If your tile has significant colour variations, it may be best to use multiple paint colours to recreate the look.
  • Tip: Painting and sealing the repair account for a significant portion of the project’s overall cost. If you’re looking to save money on the repair, consider skipping this step, especially if the tile isn’t in a highly visible area.
  1. Seal the Repair:
  • Allow the paint to dry completely. Apply a generous layer of clear urethane sealant on the paint. This sealant is great as it will not only secure and protect the repaired area but will also provide durability, making it last longer.

 

If the repair does not work, you will have to get replacement tiles or redo the whole floor altogether. To replace a tile, cut away the grout surrounding it and remove the broken tile. The tile mortar should be entirely removed from the subfloor before installing the new tile.

 

Additional Tip

 It’s advisable to keep several spare tiles in storage after a new tile installation. This makes future repairs more straightforward. If you have concerns about your ability to replace a tile or the cause of the damage, it’s wise to consult a professional before attempting the project.

Other Methods to Repair A Cracked Floor Tile Without Replacing It Entirely

Preparatory Steps

 

Before embarking on the repair, it’s essential to prepare the area properly:

  1. Thoroughly Clean the Area:
  • Start by meticulously cleaning the damaged tile and its surroundings. This is especially important if the damage has been present for some time and has accumulated dirt. For chipped or cracked areas with sharp edges, you may need to lightly sand the damaged surface using fine-grit sandpaper.
  1. Use a Damp, Soft Scrub Brush:
  • Clean the area with a soft scrub brush and a solution of dish soap or a powder cleanser.
  1. Dry the Area:
  • After cleaning, make sure to dry the area completely, especially if there is standing water.

Repair Options

Here are a few repair options.

A person is using a tool to clean a floor.

Grout:

 

A tile that has a multi-coloured and non-glossy surface can be repaired using various methods. This is especially effective for tiles like travertine or other natural stones with an uneven pattern and some texture.

  • Find grout that matches the tile’s colour or comes as close as possible.
  • For mixing the grout follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
  • Use a grout float to apply the mixed grout to the damaged area.
  • Wipe off excess grout with the float.
  • Allow the grout to set, typically taking around 20-30 minutes.
  • Sponge off any remaining residue with a grout sponge.

 

Paint:

For shallow cracks and small surface chips, painting can be an option if you have a good eye for colour matching and a steady hand. While the results may not stand up to close scrutiny, it’s a suitable temporary solution until your next bathroom or kitchen renovation.

  • Choose water-based paint that matches the colour of your tile or purchase ceramic tile touch-up paint.
  • Apply the paint to the unglazed, damaged tile area using a small hobby paint brush.
  • Reapply paint as needed, being careful not to get any on the glazed surface.

Conclusion

The ability to repair cracked floor tiles without the necessity of a full replacement is a valuable skill for homeowners. Tiles, known for their durability and aesthetic appeal, can face chips and cracks due to various factors, but with the right techniques, these blemishes need not be a permanent eyesore.

 

Remember, the repaired area may not perfectly match the surrounding tiles, it should be far less noticeable than the original damage. These repair methods are temporary solutions, and for a more long-term fix, consider replacing the tile when it’s feasible.

If you have decided to revamp or renovate the tiles and want to avoid fixing the damage, you can always visit Orientbell.com to check out amazing tiles that will surely make your space seem new and fresh. 

Speak to our Tile Expert

Author

Prerna Sharma

Prerna holds an MBA in International Business with a specialization in Marketing from Amity International Business School and a Bachelor of Business Administration from Asia Pacific Institute of Management. With a rich professional journey spanning over a decade, she has significantly contributed to the content and marketing arena. Prerna's expertise was honed through impactful roles as a content editor and social media strategist with prominent brands such as CyberMedia, HT Media, and NIIT University. Currently serving as the Content Website Editor at Orientbell Tiles, she brings her wealth of experience to shape engaging online narratives. Beyond her professional pursuits, Prerna has showcased her versatility through freelancing for distinguished brands across various industries.

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