How to Replace Ceramic Tile Around Bathroom Faucets


The tiles that surround tub and shower faucets sometimes loosen or get broken as the faucets are repaired. If you have faucet leaks, water sometimes works its way behind the tiles and deteriorates the bond between the tile cement and the underlying substrate. Fortunately, it is not difficult to replace the ceramic tile around bathroom faucets. With proper planning, this repair can be completed in a short amount of time, though you will have to allow some time for the repair to cure before using the shower or tub.

Things You'll Need

  • Tub protection
  • Duct tape
  • Screwdriver
  • Strap wrench
  • Grout saw
  • Hammer
  • Pry bar
  • Chisel
  • Putty knife
  • Notched trowel
  • Tile nibbler
  • Grout
  • Grout sponge
  • Cover the area under the faucets with cardboard. If you are repairing a tub faucet, put a towel on the tub edges and lay a narrow piece of plywood across the towl to protect the tub surface. Close the drain and cover it with tape to prevent debris from falling into the drain.

  • Remove the faucet handles, escutcheons and the spout. Remove the screw in the center of the faucet handles and pull the handles straight out to remove them. Unscrew the escutcheons in a counter clockwise direction using the strap wrench. Unscrew the tub spout turning it counter clockwise with the strap wrench.

  • Remove the grout from around the tiles that will be replaced, using the grout saw. Plan to remove as few tiles as possible. If you have a particular replacement pattern in mind, you might have to remove additional tiles, however.

  • Remove the tiles using a hammer and pry bar. Slip the curved end of the pry bar tips under the edge of the tile and strike the backside of the curve with the hammer until the tile breaks free. Some tiles may come off in pieces.

  • Scrape the dried mastic (glue) from the underlayment, using the chisel or putty knife.

  • Inspect the substrate to be sure it is not crumbly or water logged. If it is crumbly or waterlogged, check for leaks, especially near the faucets and faucet body. Repair the leaks then replace the substrate before proceeding with the tile work. You will need to remove the substrate to the centers of the nearest wall framings then fit a new piece of the same thickness in its place. Remember to cut holes in the new substrate to allow the faucet stems to stick through.

  • Cut the notches in the tiles that will fit against the faucets using the tile nibblers. Do a test layout to see where to cut the notches. Be careful to cut only as much as necessary so the escutcheons will cover the cuts.

  • Apply the mastic with a trowel. Use the short, notched edge of the trowel to comb ridges in the mastic and create a uniformly thick layer of the material.

  • Press the tiles into the mastic leveling them to the existing tiles and to each other. Leave a gap between tiles that is the same size as the existing grout lines. Keep the new tiles lined up with the existing tiles.

  • Allow the mastic to cure. Read the manufacturer's instructions to determine how long you must wait before grouting.

  • Mix the grout according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

  • Fill the gaps between the tiles with the grout using the grout sponge. Completely fill the gaps and then lightly wipe across the faces of the tiles to remove the excess grout.

  • Wait for the grout to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Clean off any excess grout or grout haze.

  • Re-install the escutcheons, faucet handles and spout.

Tips & Warnings

  • Check around your house for any extra tiles that may have been saved from the original construction.
  • If you can’t match the tiles exactly then consider using complementary colors and placing them in a pattern around the faucets.
  • Follow mastic manufacturer’s instructions on what size notched trowel to use.
  • Wear a tight-fitting dust mask when applying and removing grout.
  • Wear safety glasses when using the hammer and when cutting tiles.

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  • “Stanley Complete Baths;” Meredith Corporation; 2005
  • Photo Credit shower handle image by Leticia Wilson from
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