Though porcelain, ceramic, and stone tiles are known for longevity, cracks in floor tiles happen. The reasons can range from improper installation to anomalies underneath or surrounding the tile to simply dropping an item on the floor that hits the tile “just” right.
Tile flooring in your entryway and kitchen is often the most susceptible area for cracks to appear since they experience the most foot traffic (meaning more opportunities to drop items) and temperature fluctuations.
In addition, your kitchen contains heavy equipment that may be too much weight for the tile (e.g., refrigerator, stove, etc.) to support. Finally, it’s important to remember that even low-maintenance tile materials like cement, ceramic, and porcelain still require regular upkeep to maintain pristine conditions. So failing to perform general maintenance can reduce their life expectancy, as well.
Now that we know the different reasons why tile cracks appear, let’s quickly review the type of damage you may encounter:
Perhaps the most common type of tile damage, hairline cracks occur on the surface of the tile with widths the size and length of a single strand of hair. As a result, these cracks are often hard to spot, but over time, they can develop into more severe issues as moisture can seep and get trapped below its surface.
The good news is that homeowners can repair most hairline cracks.
Cracks that divide pieces of a single tile indicate severe damage. Unlike hairline cracks, this damage is easy to spot and much more profound. In this situation, it’s often best to replace the entire tile vs. repair it.
Chipped tile may result from a heavy object landing on your floor. As a result, you may notice tiny or large craters on the surface or sides of your tile. Depending on the severity of the damage, it may be a better investment to replace vs. repair the tile itself.
How to Repair Cracked Tile
If you discover a hairline fracture along your tile, you may be able to repair the damage on your own.
What You’ll Need
- Pair of gloves
- Soapy water
- Clean cloth
- Epoxy Resin (two-part adhesive)
- Cardboard surface to work
Step 1: Clean the affected tile
Use soapy water (or rubbing alcohol) to clean the area. Before you start to repair cracked tile, be sure the tile is thoroughly dried.
Step 2: Follow mixing instructions
You can purchase epoxy resin from a local hardware store and at most retailers. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to mix the solution correctly to create an adhesive paste.
Step 3: Apply epoxy to the hairline crack
Wearing gloves, dip a toothpick into the mixture and apply the epoxy along the cracks, creating a thin, even coat without touching the grout.
You’ll want to wait for the epoxy to dry thoroughly. Be sure to check it with a gloved hand to avoid direct contact with the solution. Also, be sure the kids and other family members stay out of the room while you’re doing this.
Tips for Replacing Old Tile
If your tile needs replacing, you’ll want to remove the grout and carefully loosen and remove the tile without impacting other adjacent tiles.
For This Project, You’ll Need
- Safety glasses
- Painter’s tape
- Carbide-tipped scoring tool
- Electric drill
- Tile chisel
- New tile
Once you remove the surrounding grout using a carbide-tipped scoring tool, you’ll need to secure the area with painter’s tape. Again, this helps prevent damage to neighboring tiles.
Next, you’ll want to:
- Loosen the tile (you can use an electric drill with a 1/4 inch ceramic bit to create tiny holes along the broken pieces that free it from the mortar.
- Remove the tile (you can use a tile chisel and hammer to “gently” tap out the broken pieces, beginning from the center and working your way to the sides. Be careful not to use too much force, as this can damage other tile pieces.
- Next, remove as much of the old mortar as possible.
- Apply the new adhesive and lay the new tile in its correct place, pressing down firmly.
- Apply the grout
- Wait for the grout to dry.
Avoiding Future Hairline Cracks
As you’ve probably guessed, there are many reasons why tile can experience hairline cracks. Though sometimes these are unavoidable, there are three essential steps you can take to increase the longevity of your tile flooring and repair cracked tile less frequently:
- Choose quality tile products
- Install tile correctly
- Follow proper tile care and maintenance
For this last tip, remember that even low-maintenance, quality materials like porcelain and cement still require regular basic cleaning.
Shop Quality Tile Products
At Tile X Design, we specialize in the best brand-name tile products and materials. So whether you’re looking to replace cracked tile or redo an entire living space, we can help!
For all your tile needs, stop into our showroom today!