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Replacing a Cracked or Broken Floor Tile

Replacing a cracked or broken floor tile isn’t as difficult as you might think. Of course, you can only replace the tile if you have or can find a match. If you can’t find a match on your tile dealer’s shelf, ask if there is a “bone pile” of rejects or extras you can check.

Before installing the new tile, make sure there are no sub-surface problems that will cause more trouble. Once your have verified this, here’s how to do it:

1Use an inexpensive grout saw or a lever can opener to scrape most of the grout out of the surrounding joints.

2Wearing eye protection, use a hammer and nailset to punch a hole in the center of the damaged tile. Be careful not to chip or crack any of the surrounding tiles, and avoid driving the nailset into the material underneath.

3Score an X across the face of the tile, from corner to corner, using a glass cutter and a straightedge.

4Rap a cold chisel lightly with a hammer to break away the tile, starting at the center.

5Pry up the pieces using a putty knife, an old chisel, or a prybar. Brush the debris from the area, and vacuum it clean.

6Paint the surface with latex primer (fill with vinyl spackle, if necessary) and allow it to dry.


Use a notched trowel to apply adhesive to the subfloor.

7Using a small notched trowel, apply tile adhesive.

8Set the new tile into place and press it in with a slight twisting motion, taking care to maintain even grout joints all the way around. Using a rubber mallet or a hammer and block of wood, tap it gently to level it with the surrounding tiles. Remove any excess adhesive from the grout joints with an old screwdriver.


Use a rubber float to press the tile into place.

9Allow the adhesive to set up and then, wearing rubber gloves, mix the grout to match the existing grout. Apply it to the joints with your finger. Clean any excess grout from the tile surface with a damp sponge.

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About Don Vandervort
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Don Vandervort has developed his expertise for more than 30 years, as Building Editor for Sunset Books, Senior Editor at Home Magazine, author of more than 30 home improvement books, and writer of countless magazine articles. He appeared for 3 seasons on HGTV’s “The Fix,” and served as MSN’s home expert for several years. Don founded HomeTips in 1996.

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