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.

Bernard Jenkins


  1. Great video, thanks.
    Now I know I’m not going to do this- as buying all the different items would cost more than a handyman doing it for me. Weirdly, I have the same weird white tile.

  2. To remove 2 adjacent tiles– I know there is a 0.25 inch plywood above the house floor. What is wrong with using saw to go down 0.5 inches and cut out (and keep) whole rectangle and then

    replace —-this is because an old dishwasher needs clearance for removal. thanks

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