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How to Replace a Cracked Tile — by Home Repair Tutor


Hi there. I’m Jeff with Home Repair Tutor.
And in this video, I’m going to share with you how to replace a cracked tile. So if you’ve
got porcelain or ceramic tiles in your kitchen, bathroom, or maybe in your laundry room and
one of them has come loose or it’s cracked or damaged, this video is going to walk you
through how to replace that tile step by step. So stay tuned. I’ve got a lot of great tips
for you. And you’re going to save yourself some money by DIY-ing this yourself. So let’s
get to it. I know it’s hard to tell but this tile is
damaged and I need to remove it. But the first step is to remove all the grout that surrounds
the perimeter of the tile. There are a multitude of tools that you can use to remove the grout.
You’ve got manual grout saws like these. You also have a carbide tip knife, like this one
here, you can use to score the grout. But my ultimate favorite tool is an oscillating
multi-tool like this one here by Bosh with a grout removal attachment on it. This is
the number one way to remove grout. But if you can’t afford this or if you don’t have
one, not a big deal. It’s just going to take a little bit longer using these tools.
Now before you remove a cracked tile, you’ve got to take some safety precautions. So protect
your eyes with either goggles or safety glasses like these ones. Put on some gloves. And wear
a long-sleeved shirt because when you smack a tile, shards of it go everywhere and anywhere,
and the shards will cut your skin. So protect your skin. And also protect your lungs by
wearing a respirator like this one. Now I’m going to show you why I like oscillating multi-tools
for removing grout. Oops! I almost forgot one more safety precaution,
and that’s hearing protection. If you’re going to use an oscillating multi-tool, make sure
you wear some hearing protection ’cause it gets loud fast.
Notice how the multi-tool turns the grout into a fine powder. It does an awesome job
of removing the grout. And if it gets too dusty, you can use a vacuum while you’re using
the multi-tool. Or you can turn on the bathroom ventilation fan to help out with the dust.
It took me about 5-7 minutes to remove all the grout around this tile using the oscillating
multi-tool, and that’s why it’s so fantastic. Whatever tool you use, just be careful not
to gouge any of the neighboring tiles. What you need to do next is drill some pilot
holes into the center of the tile. You can use a ¼” carbide-tipped ceramic drill bit
for this job. Now what I like to do is place some blue painter’s tape into the center of
the tile so that the drill bit can grip into the tape and go down through the glaze that
is on the ceramic or porcelain tile. I’m only drilling about a ¼” down through the tile
because the tile itself is only ¼”. You can take your hammer and you can take
a chisel. Now in this case, this is a 3/8″ chisel. And what I’m going to do is pound
it down into these holes and pry up the tile from the inside working my way to the outside
perimeter. That way I’m not going to damage the surrounding tiles. So again, start in
the holes that you just drilled. Oh, and leaving the blue tape on helps reduce the splintering
of the tile. Once you get a big enough hole, you can switch
from the smaller chisel to a larger chisel. Now the other thing that I wanted to tell
you about is you know you’ve gone deep enough when you start to see ridge marks in the substrate.
The ridge marks are from the thin set mortar that was used to adhere the tile to the substrate.
So that’s when you know you’ve gone far enough and you don’t need to go any deeper.
And if you really want the process to be a lot faster, you can go with a chisel of this
size, okay? And this will help really chip into the tile and remove huge chunks of it.
Old thin set on top of cement board or whatever back or substrate you have needs to be removed.
Otherwise, your tile won’t sit even with the surrounding tiles. So you can either chisel
it out using a hammer and chisel , or you can try to use the opposite end of your hammer
to pry if off. I’m going to be frank with you. Trying to
get the mortar out is a real pain in the you-know-what. But you can do it, and once you get to the
point whereby you think you’re ready, you should dry-fit the tile after vacuuming into
the space. That appears to be pretty good. You need to take one extra step. Use a level.
So place the level on the tile and make sure that the tile itself is pretty level and just
slightly depressed such that it’s lower than the adjacent tiles because when you go to
put the thin set mortar on below the tile, it’s going to raise the tile up just a slight
bit. So you always want the new tile to be slightly lower than the surrounding tiles.
Now that I’m finally done smacking that tile to pieces, I can roll my sleeves up and apply
some mortar to the base that we’re going to put the tile on. Unfortunately, you might
dig out some divots in the cement board. So no big deal here. I mean, obviously you would
prefer not to do this. But what you can do is put some mortar in its place and you should
be good to go. That will provide a nice substrate for the tile to rest on. So what I did was
mix up some mortar using a margin trowel, okay? And you want the consistency to be pretty
think like so. It has to barely fall off the trowel. And what I’m going to do is place
some of this mortar into the depressions that I made with my chisel. So I’m just going to
replace the cement board that I broke apart. In an ideal world, I would let this mortar
solidify. But because it’s a little bit tricky replacing a tile, I want to actually not do
that. And I’m going to trowel some more thin set on using a ¼” x ¼” trowel. What that
means is the space in between the notches is ¼” and the depth is ¼”. And I’m using
this type of trowel because the tile I’m using is ¼” high or ¼” deep.
So with your trowel at a 45° angle, you can move it across the bed and create these ridges.
Admittedly, the ridges in the middle are not that great so I need to go back over that.
But the ridges should stand up on their own. That’s how you know that you’ve mixed your
thin set the correct way. Now the other thing that you can do to ensure
that your tile isn’t going anywhere is back-butter it. What this means is just simply applying
a thin coat of the mortar to the back of the tile.
With the tile back-buttered and my mortar in place, I can set the tile. Once you have
the tile set. You should remove any mortar that oozes up out of the grout joints because
it is a real pain in the rear end to get it out once it dries. So you can use any kind
of tool. You can use a screw driver. You could use anything you want to remove that mortar
but make sure you get it out immediately after you set the tile. Then you can use a paper
towel to just get the rest of the mortar off the tile.
And the last thing you should do is make sure all the corners of the new tile line up. And
you can use tile spacers for this. Although in my case, I’m just going to eye it because
I only have one tile to replace. But again make sure all four corners are lined up even
with the other grout joints. After waiting about 2-3 hours for the thin
set mortar to set up, now it’s time to add grout. And you want your grout to have the
consistency of thick peanut butter. What I like to do is to scoop the grout onto
the tile. Here you go. Then you can use a rubber float like this one here to spread
it into the joints. Oh and by the way, if you’re not sure what
color grout to use, you can take a sample of the existing grout to the store and they
have these little grout samples. You can try to match it up based on the samples. And that’s
how I did it for the grout that we have here in the bathroom. And always wear chemically
resistant gloves when you’re spreading the grout ’cause it can dry out your hands.
Now because this is only one tile, what I’m going to do is basically smoosh the grout
into the grout line. And then, I’m going to move the grout float at a 45° angle across
the grout line. And that will add the slight depression in the grout that I want and remove
a good portion of it off the surface of the tile. If you want to completely get a nice
clean sweep, you can hold the grout float at a 90° angle.
Let the grout set up according to the directions on the bag—so anywhere from 15-20 minutes,
typically. You’ll develop a haze on the top of the tile, which you’ll then remove, and
I’ll show you that next. Once the grout has set up, it’s time to use
a sponge, like this one here, to clean it up. So take a bucket of water. Dunk the sponge
in. Wring it out. And wipe off the surface. And typically what I like to do is tool the
grout lines so they’re a little bit concave with the grout sponge. And it’s super important
to get all of the grout off the tile. Otherwise, if it dries, it’s a mess ’cause obviously,
grout hardens up pretty good. Do get the grout off any of the tile surface. And dry it off.
After waiting about 60 minutes, what you should do is buff the surface of the tile. And what
I like to use is a microfiber cloth. You may like something else a little bit better. But
in my experience, microfiber cloths are awesome. And they do a great job of cleaning off glazed
surfaces like this tile. And the final step is to add grout sealer
to the grout. All right. That’s how you replace a cracked
tile. It wasn’t that bad, right? And these skill sets will serve you well in your home
ownership adventure, right? So saving yourself $50 here, $75 there, it adds up over 30 years,
right? So if you got any questions about this particular
project, please let me know in the comments. Id’ be more than happy to help you out. And
remember, if you haven’t already done so, you can sign up for my email newsletter by
going to HomeRepairTutor.com. You’ll get new tips that’ll help save you money, time, and
make you feel less overwhelmed with all the projects that you have. Every single week,
get these tips every Friday. So sign up for the email newsletter. And you can also subscribe
to my YouTube channel over on YouTube. So that’s it for today. Thank you so much
for dropping by. I really appreciate it. And I’ll see you in the next video.

100 thoughts on “How to Replace a Cracked Tile — by Home Repair Tutor

  1. I have several tiles to replace but the real problem I have with the tile is the glazed finish.   It looks beautiful but when even a tiny bit of water gets on the tile it is deathly slippery.  So I have a beautiful floor but it is super dangerous….My question to you is there a way to etch the tile or apply something to make it NOT SLIPPERY???

  2. Hi Jeff…great video. Is this method good for granite floor tiles without grout lines? Or is granite a different animal. I have one cracked 18 x18 granite floor tile that I would like to replace. Thanks!

  3. really clear and simple descriptions and explanations step by step, I really will be able to have a go at it… thank you for the great tips! thank you! Manuel

  4. hi jeff. viewing your video several times provided comfortable confidence levels allowing me to proceed. my "diy" skill level can be called advanced althought i've not previously considered this kind of project. we needed four tiles replaced and after receiving three estimates ranging from $275 to $400 decided purchasing a quality cordless multi-tool and all other "hardware" we'd still be ahead of the professional estimated costs. to make a short story even "shorter": completely removed the broken four tiles and completed all preparations to clean the sites, making them "tile-ready" in just under two hours, including tool "set-up" and "take-down" time. mortar mixing, setting the replacement tiles' and applying grout accounted for another hour. we're very pleased with the finished product, saved money and acquired a new skill-set. a very productive day. can't "thank you" enough!! one comment, though: found drilling holes as suggested took a bit more time and in our case wasn't really necessary. prior to striking and breaking the three remaining tiles chiseling up and removing the remains, we made certain to first remove all existing grout surrounding each tile. wearing safety goggles we repeatedly struck the tiles until each cracked than used the "chisel-technique". worked very well for us. is possible to post links to all other of your "diy" videos?? thank you.

  5. Excellent Do It Yourself video! I'm pretty good at home repair, but it's nice to have information from someone who knows more than I . Many thanks! Jim Dickey, Sandy Springs, Georgia.

  6. I just cracked my tile that I recently installed, thank you so much for posting this video!! I was freaking out about how to get the cracked piece out, I feel much better now!

  7. It could have been a 4 minute video but the way you explained everything was very helpful. Not just music in the background and people not actually learning anythng. I subscribed to your channel and shared it on my facebook page. I give you an A+….Mike

  8. I've removed the cracked tile by it hammering lightly, but I found there is the old dried mortar behind, ans it's pretty thick. What can be done to remove this before the new mortar is put in?

  9. Very informative video , I don't have a broken time, but I do have a tile that should of had a 2" Circle cut out of it, but instead he cut a 4 inch square around a 2 inch pipe, Leaving me with a huge space around pipe :o/ . I have Marble tiles that are pretty expensive, So I want to make sure I get it right the first time, For sure I will be getting an i oscillating tool, Either Bosch or Milwaukee.  Thanks Again :o)

  10. Thanks for the video…it was a huge help in replacing 2 cracked tiles in my kitchen. Saved me a lot of time and aggravation…keep posting!

  11. I was super intimidated to replace our existing broken tile without having any previous experience/ knowledge, but this video was SUPER helpful and now I feel more confident on completing this project! Thanks!!

  12. The grout was far too thick. You'll end up with gaps and holes if trying to use grout of that consistency.

  13. Hey Jeff, thanks for the video! I have an odd follow up question for you. Where did you find your replacement tile?? The broken tile I have looks exactly like yours (white with a glazed texture) and I've been looking all over for some replacement tiles.

    Thanks!!

  14. For those who want to speed the process up forget cutting the grout or drilling the tile.thsts a waste of time . Smack the center of the tile with a hammer til it breaks. the grout will break away. then cut the backing board out with the cutting tool .Put a new piece of backing board in there ,screw it down and go install the tile.

  15. Doubtful anyone will see this be here it goes. I have a tile under the toilet right next to the tub. I have a one bathroom condo. Once I remove the toilet and fix the tile, how long until I can put the toilet back or better yet use it?

  16. Great job Jeff on explaining. High quality video.  Thanks for instructing to use a respirator. Many DIY do not understand the cancer causing properties of fine dust and silica.    Steve      Certified Property Inspector Dove Inspections

  17. My bathroom floor was covered with a ditra membrane before the tile installation. When replacing a tile, would I have to cut out a piece of the ditra membrane and replace with a new piece and then tile over it?

  18. Think your grouting was done before the thinset had dried unless it was fastset.
    You need to leave for at least 24 hours or the tile adhesive will not cure.

  19. Even IF the "bathroom fan" were powerful enough to actually suck up the dust, you would NEVER want to let anything that abrasive anywhere near a motor!

  20. have a new heater put in the bathroom he had to break a piece in the corner its a very narrow strip of tile to replace can i just fill it with a filler

  21. Thanks for easy to follow instructions, my wife has been nagging me for two years to replace the seven cracked tiles in the kitchen, I was just about to call in Sears and pay a ton of money.

  22. How much would it cost to have two tiles replaced? Both material and manual labor. Please thank you. Cheers from New York City

  23. BTW awsome video eventhough im always in a rush i was patient enough to stick around till the end of the video because it was so well explained.

  24. Hi, thanks for this video i have some steps with about 60 small tiles to replace and everyone has told me the whole lot need to come off as opposed to removing a neat square out in the middle leaving the main borders in place. my challenge is to remove the sand and cement mortar mix "screed" we call it in the UK as its very tough but i have mini grinder and a multi tool so should be ok. i am a handy man in the UK and one tile or 3 would be a blessing but 60 1"x1" and half of them need to be cut into triangular shapes is going to be tricky but hey he who dares wins!! instead of swearing im going to treat each tile as a single repair think of your video and then whack myself over the head so i get amnesia and cant remember fixing each one so in theory ill only replace one not 60!! ok i wish but thats the kind of attitude towards it im taking.
    i will let you know how i get on and may need some much appreciated advise if poss.
    cheers Paul. Brighton England UK.

  25. Thanks for the video. I never did anything tile related before, and was able to replace a broken kitchen tile using your video. The grout saw actually worked great and was much easier to use than expected. The tile was out and new one set in an hour, the grout and clean up about another hour once set. Thanks.

  26. How do you control new grout touching old grout for the touching tiles? Wouldnt the old grout crack and crumble when touching new grout due to the expansive pressure?

  27. Good Video. You can also use the side of your rubber gloved hand instead of the rubber float to push the grout in. Use the float as clean up. This is a good technique especially for DIYers even in doing whole floors. I find it to be a lot faster and at least as effective for me who may do a floor every 5 years or so.

  28. Great video. I watched your video's on tile installation prior to tiling my bathroom. Ended up at this video after 1 of the tiles cracked.

  29. Hi! We run a restaurant business and from time to time tiles crack. If we do replace it, we normally don''t have enough time to cure it well enough and it will get stepped on the following day. 1. Are there better way? 2. if I use a hot lamp on the tiles while it is curing will it work?

  30. Thank you for creating and sharing this video. It was very helpful and informative. What do you do when you dry fit your tile and it is taller than the other already fitted tiles?

  31. omg you literally answered my question lol. Do you know if they have these grout color sample chart things at home depot? i found a color sample kit thing on the website but it's 15 dollars… id much rather just do what you said and bring a chunk of it into the store and compair there than having to pay…

    p.s. this video was really great. I completely know what to do now… however… I do agree a tad with the other commenters a little bit too much slow talking… not a big deal though I just kept fast forwarding… they are just being assholes, don't stop making videos they're are great!

  32. you were good EXCEPT, where are your shoes? you called out safety equipment gloves, long sleeves, respirator, hearing protection, safety glasses) to save yourself from getting cut by shards of tile when chiseling yet you arent wearing shoes?!?!?!?!?!?! I dont get it. That is not safe.

  33. Thank you for posting this! I needed insight and well as directions from A to Z. I've never replaced tile before, but now after seeing your video, I'm going for it!

  34. Cheap way to get tile up hit the back of a butter knife with a hammer slowly. Keep eye on butter knife and it can get underneath. This is after breaking center with hammer. Use eye googles and thick gloves.

  35. Thank you so much for your time & the video what a huge help! (For my husband 🙂 ) what do you recommend for a grout sealer?

  36. Excellent video. Very clear and thorough instructions. My only concern is the time between mortaring tiles and grouting. You said 2-3 hours, others on google say 24 hours. I think I'll wait 24 to be sure.

  37. Whack that sum beach with a hammer, chisel with a sharp five way that's made for hammering, dry fit, then thrown grout under and over that sum beach

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