Ceramic floor tiles are the best option to make the floor stylish. These tiles are waterproof and known to last decades. However, cracked or broken ceramic tiles are not a pretty sight. Unfortunately, if you end up in such a situation, you can solve it cost-effectively if you know how to fix loose or broken ceramic floor tiles.
You can fix a loose tile by inserting epoxy or adhesive through the gape and pressing it in its place with something heavy for about a day or two. If the tile is partially broken or cracked, you can fix it with an epoxy mix. But if it is beyond the epoxy fix, you will need to replace it.
The solutions to these problems are not difficult if you have the right tools. All you need to do is ensure you do it right.
What Causes Ceramic Floor Tiles To Loosen Or Break?
Knowing what causes tiles to come loose or break can help you figure out how to fix them. So, for your convenience, here are some common reasons causing your ceramic floor tiles to come off.
1. Hard Impact
We all know that ceramic is a hard material. However, a hard blow or impact can cause cracks on the tiles, which can spread across them over time. It can cause the ceramic to come loose.
Dropping sharp and heavy objects can cause a hairline crack at first. If the tiles keep receiving hard blows, it will keep getting worse.
2. Heavy Weight
Placing appliances, such as refrigerators, washers, dryers, etc., can cause the ceramic tiles to crack. Ceramic tiles can take extremely heavy loads. Though it is said that ceramic tiles can take about 250 pounds of pressure, sometimes, they even exceed that weight limit.
3. Type Of Bonding/Adhesive
The type of bonding or adhesive used to install the tiles can also be why they are coming loose. If the adhesive is too thick or thin, it can impact its durability. Using an adhesive that is not strong enough can make it wear off over time.
And then, there is a method used for laying the tiles called spot bonding. The adhesive is applied at four corners like dots and the center. Installing the tiles like this leaves lots of void areas. And after a particular period, the tiles start coming loose.
4. Temperature/Weather Change
Ceramic tiles expand during the summer in the heat and shrink in the cold. You will barely notice this change around your house. However, frequent temperature changes can impact the ceramic underlayment and make it come loose.
5. Surface Difference
Everything I explained a moment ago also applies to the surface the ceramic tiles are installed on. It can impact the ceramic if the surface has different materials. The shrinking and expanding rate will be different. As a result, the tiles will loosen from the surface.
Most ceramics absorb water, and ceramic tiles can do that as well because of their porousness. When we spill water on it or take a bath, most of it is absorbed. It can cause the underlayment to lose its strength over time and cause the tiles to come loose.
7. Installation Error
Ceramic tiles need to be installed correctly. If one thing is missed, it can create many issues in the long run. These are some of the mistakes that can occur during the installation.
- Not using the correct adhesive thickness
- Using expired grout or not sealing it properly
- Installing tiles on different surfaces
- Not leaving enough area for the tiles to expand and shrink
How To Fix Loose Ceramic Floor Tiles?
Fixing a loose ceramic tile is a lot easier than taking care of a broken one. If there are one or more loose tiles in your home, you can fix it in the following way.
- You need to start by removing the loose tile. But if it is sticking to the grouts, scrape the grout off the tile using a putty knife. Do not force the tile out because it might break it.
- Then dissolve the adhesive on the floor using a fabric damped with mineral spirit.
- Then apply a new epoxy mix or adhesive on the floor and place the tile on it.
- Use a damp fabric with mineral spirit again to remove the excess epoxy or adhesive from around the tile. If you do not do it before the solution starts to harden, it will become a challenging task later.
- You can try putting a little weight on the tile so that it sticks to the epoxy.
- Keep it like that for a day or two to ensure the tile is perfectly set, and your fixing job is done.
How To Take Care Broken Ceramic Floor Tiles?
The method to repair it varies depending on whether it is partially cracked and can be fixed without replacement or completely broken and needs replacement. To make it easy for you, I have discussed two different methods for fixing different types of cracks. You can follow the instructions below to do the jobs.
Fixing Broken Tiles Without Replacing It
Here is the step-by-step guide to take care of cracked or broken tiles without replacing them.
Step 1: Get Epoxy Solution
You will need a two-part epoxy kit to fix the broken tile. Part one will work as glue, while part 2 will make the broken areas stick together for a long time.
Step 2: Clean The Cracked/Broken Area
Before you fix the tile, make sure the area is thoroughly clean. Otherwise, the epoxy will not stick properly.
Pour some rubbing alcohol on a paper towel or a piece of fabric. Wipe the broken area until you are sure that it is completely clean.
Step 3: Mix Epoxy
Get cardboard or a paper plate to mix the epoxy solution. You need to pour an equal amount of epoxy from both parts and mix it using a popsicle stick. Mixing both solutions create a chemical reaction, which helps the epoxy harden against the tiles.
Step 4: Apply The Epoxy
Now, use the same popsicle stick to apply the epoxy mix along the broken line of the tile. Do your best to ensure the mixture is smeared evenly over the area.
You need to be a little quick at this part because epoxy hardens pretty fast. But before it does, it will go through the broken or cracked areas and ensure the tile stays together.
Step 5: Wait And Clean
Wait for five to ten minutes to allow the solution to dry. Give it some more time if you can to ensure it does not stick to your finger when you touch it.
If the epoxy seems dry, use a sharp blade or paper cutter to remove the excessive epoxy from around the tile. Finally, apply a mix of tinted powder to match the color of your tile. But if the epoxy blends well with your tile color, you can skip the dying part.
Fixing Broken Tiles By Replacing It
If the tile is beyond repair with the epoxy solution, you need to replace it.
Step 1: Remove The Broken Tile
Use a power drill to drill a few holes on the broken tile. To ensure the drill goes through the tile, you can hold it vertically. Drilling the holes will weaken the already broken tile, allowing you to remove it easily.
Then use a hammer and a chisel to break through the tiles. It will help you remove the broken pieces easily without damaging the surrounding tiles.
Step 2: Remove Old Grouts And Apply New Mortar Base
Use the chisel blade at an angle to pull out the sticky old grouts. Once it comes off, clean the area with a brush or broom to prepare it for the new mortar base.
Use a putty knife to spread the mortar base on the area you are to install the new tile. Make sure to wear a pair of latex gloves for safety. Try not to get the mortar in other places because it will be difficult to remove.
Step 3: Set The New Tile And Apply Grout
Set the tile over the area where you have spread the mortar base and press gently. Then use a grout float to apply grout around the newly set tile to seal it.
Step 4: Clean It Up
Damp a piece of fabric and clean up the grout before it dries. But make sure not to disturb the grout sealing the tile. Keep the tile free from stepping on overnight, and it will be ready the next day.
Since you are learning how to fix loose or broken ceramic floor tiles, here are a few things you need to keep in mind.
- Make sure you have chosen the right solution for fixing the tiles.
- If you are using an epoxy solution, it has to be accurate for the type of ceramic tile.
- If you are fixing a broken tile by removing it, you need to break it into pieces so that other tiles will not get damaged.
- Use a chisel and hammer to remove the broken pieces to avoid damaging the surrounding tiles.
- Never place a new tile over an old mortar. Otherwise, the tile will appear uneven.
Having a loose or broken floor tile is not something you want to expect. Because if unattended, it will cost more money as the crack can spread over time. So the best thing is to ensure you know how to fix loose or broken ceramic floor tiles.
Most of the things you need to fix the tiles will be available at your nearby hardware store. And if you are replacing the tile, make sure to take a picture of it to the store to ensure you get the right one.