How to Repair Tile Countertops

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Tile countertops with minimal damage can be repaired without replacing the entire surface. Although ceramic tile is strong and impervious to many types of damage, discolored grout or cracked tiles are not unusual and can be fixed. Damaged tiles or sections of tiles can be removed, and new tiles can be substituted without disturbing the surrounding tiles that are in good condition. Crumbling or discolored grout can also be chipped out and replaced.

Things You'll Need

  • Grout saw
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Soft bristled brush
  • Grout
  • Tile float
  • Sponge
  • Tile sealant
  • Paintbrush
  • Safety glasses
  • Towel
  • Hammer
  • Chisel
  • Notched trowel
  • Tile adhesive

How to Replace Discolored or Crumbling Grout

  • Remove all of the old or discolored grout using a grout saw. For large areas, a rotary tool with a cutting attachment can be used.

  • Clean up all dust and debris with a vacuum cleaner before proceeding. You may want to use a soft bristled brush to help remove grout particles from the spaces between the tiles.

  • Mix the grout carefully, following the manufacturer's instructions. Wet grout cannot be preserved so only mix enough this project. If you are replacing grout in a large area, you may only want to mix half the amount required at a time.

  • Using a float, add grout to the newly cleaned channel. Start from the back of the countertop, working your way forward towards the edge. Add grout to each channel from several angles to make sure the space is properly filled.

  • Start cleaning off the faces of each tile with a damp sponge. Wait five minutes between applying the grout and cleaning the tile to allow the grout to set slightly. Allow the grout to cure for 24 hours before continuing.

  • Apply a sealant to the grout using a brush. Although this step is optional, a sealant will prevent the grout from becoming discolored in the future.

How to Replace a Cracked or Broken Tile

  • Cut around the tile you wish to remove with a grout saw. You may have to go over the same area several times to create a sufficient cut line. This will prevent the area around the broken tile from cracking.

  • Break the tile you wish to replace into several pieces using a hammer. Cover the area you are breaking with a towel and wear safety glasses to avoid injury.

  • Remove the pieces of tile using a chisel and hammer. It is easiest to start in a corner and work towards the opposite end when removing tile from a countertop.

  • Chip away the old tile adhesive underneath the tile you have removed. Any grout that surrounds the tile's perimeter should also be removed with a chisel.

  • Clean the countertop thoroughly using a vacuum cleaner. A brush may be necessary to reach small crevices.

  • Using a notched trowel, butter the back of the replacement tile with tile adhesive and set it into place using a slight twisting motion. Make sure that the tile aligns evenly with the existing grout lines and is level with the surrounding tile. Allow the area to cure for 24 hours.

  • Mix the grout according to the manufacturer's instructions. Only mix enough to finish this project; the rest of the dry grout can be saved for future repairs.

  • Apply grout around the empty channels surrounding the new tile using a grout float. Wait five minutes, then using a damp sponge, clean the tops of the tiles to remove any haze on the surface. Allow the area to cure for 24 hours.

  • Apply a clear sealant to the new grout on the tile countertop using a paintbrush. Allow the area to dry thoroughly before using the countertop.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always measure the exact amount of water required to add to the dry grout. Grout with too much water added will crumble prematurely. Grout sets in 20 minutes, making it essential to work quickly you are replacing grout over large areas. Work with a partner or work in sections to prevent the grout from hardening before it is cleaned off the tile.

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