Have you ever seen repair jobs that were done so poorly that it would have been better if nothing had been done at all? That is what you may find with tile chip repair if the person performing the work is not well rehearsed in how to complete the task properly.
Not every tile chip repair should be attempted in the same way as another, and in some cases, the trial and error method might be your best course of action. Remember anything you do that can be undone is perfectly fine to try, but if you mess up a tile, you increase the amount of work necessary for the tile repair job. It might even cost more money for materials, plus more time to perform the work.
Tile Repair – Establishing a Course of Action
Anytime you deal with existing tile work, the least amount of change required, generally the better the outcome will be. If the damaged tile has only a hairline crack, you should consider if a repair will even be an improvement.
If the grout is not cracked also, using a resin product that is a match in color to fill the crack is one option to consider. With a hairline crack, the problem is in getting anything into the tiny crevice. A surface application will usually be very obvious and won’t stay in place for long.
If you cannot find anything that will work as a filler for tile chip repair, you may have to replace the tile. This is the most drastic action to take, but often the only one that will offer a suitable solution. If there are no tiles that will match the existing, you may have to rethink any type of repair.
Replacing a Tile
If you have some extra tiles left that match those on the floor, counter, or other surface, there should be no problem in making a replacement that blends with the existing. Tiles do not usually fade over the years like some materials do. The harder part to match may be the grout around the replaced tile because it will fade, stain, and age making it look different than when it was first installed.
The removal of a tile must be accomplished without damaging others around it, and the surrounding grout and thin set mix beneath the old tile have to be completely removed, too. The entire area should be cleaned thoroughly so no grit remains that can interfere with setting the new tile.
When placing the new tile in a bed of thin set, a straight edge should be used to make sure that the new tile is flush with all other tiles at each corner. Once the tile is seated properly, it should be left to set without being disturbed for about 24 hours to assure that the mortar is dry. Then the grout is applied.
Sanded grout can be very difficult to match because you won’t know how it will look until it dries. Even if you have some saved grout from the original tile job, you can’t really expect it to match if it has been a year or more since the installation.
Sanded grout should be sealed about a week after it is installed. This helps prevent staining, and if sealing is performed each year, it may help to prevent a change in color over time. Sanded grout that is taken care of properly should be easier to match when a tile chip repair is performed.
If the grout is an epoxy or other type of hybrid, matching to the existing is much easier because these materials retain color better than sanded grout. In some cases, it is almost impossible to tell when a tile chip repair has been performed when epoxy grout is used.
Again, every repair of a chipped ceramic tile is different based on several variables. A repair job usually requires more skill than installation of new ceramic tile because it has to be handled carefully so a repair is not so visually obvious.