Over time ceramic tile floors tend to form cracks. Often this is caused by the foundation settling or improper tile installation. Most homeowners can replace tile without the need for a contractor.
The material needed includes a replacement tile, thinset mortar, grout, and water. Verify the replacement tile matches the existing tile’s finish and color. Place the new tile next to the broken tile and make sure the color matches the tile on the floor. If does not then your floor repair will stick out like a checker board. Match the grout color for the floor with new grout found in the tile section of a home improvement store. Online grout charts can aid with this.
The basic tools needed to replace a broken or cracked ceramic floor tile include a grout saw, hammer, chisel, broom and dust pan. Installing the tile requires a notched trowel, margin trowel, bucket and sponge. An electric chipping hammer makes removing the old tile easier; most tool rental stores carry these.
1) Use a grout saw to cut a slice in the grout joint on all sides of the tile. Removing the grout will prevent the neighboring tiles from chipping while replacing the cracked tile.
2) Snap off the corner of the broken floor tile with a hammer and chisel. Hit the tile about 1-1/2 inches in from the corner. Remove the broken corner.
3) Angle the chisel, or chipping hammer, under the cracked tile. Strike the chisel with the hammer. Work the chisel between the tile and the floor slab. The chisel will act like a wedge, lifting the tile. Often ceramic tile will pop out in one piece. If not, continue using the hammer and chisel to remove all of the old tile. Be careful near the gout joints.
4) Use the hammer and chisel, or chipping hammer, to remove all of the old thinset mortar from the subfloor. If you leave any thinset on the slab, the new floor tile will not set flush with the old ones.
5) Check the subfloor for a cracked foundation. If a crack is found, then cover the crack with some duct tape. The duct tape will act like an underlayment, preventing future cracked tile. If the subfloor is some sort of wood or hardyboard, then it is likely flexing. If that is the case, drive nails through it.
6) Stir tile thinset mortar in a bucket with some water. Mix the thinset cement with a margin trowel. The thinset mortar should have the same consistency as toothpaste. If you add to much water you should add dry thinset to the wet mix.
7) Apply a layer of thinset to the subfloor with a notch trowel.
8) Lay the new ceramic tile in place. Use your hands to work the edges of the tile until they are even with the neighboring floor tile. If the new floor tile is to low then you must remove it and add more thinset to the subfloor.
9) Use a wet sponge to wipe the wet thinset from the finished tile surfaces. Wipe any excess thinset mortar from the grout joints. Let the thinset dry before continuing.
10) In a small bucket mix 2 cups of dry grout mix per tile. Mix the grout the same as the thinset. Press the grout in the grout joints with a grout float. Use a lot of pressure to push the grout all the way to the subfloor.
11) Use a damp sponge to wipe the floor tile at a 45 degree angle to the grout joint. The angle will help prevent removing to much wet grout.
Tile installers remove cracked tile and grout using this process. Replacing damaged and cracked floor tile will return the floor to a new looking condition. A considerable amount of work is required, but this is a project that most homeowners can complete and be proud of.