Pop-up Problems With Ceramic Floor Tile


Ceramic floor tile offers a tough and long-lasting floor covering choice. Ceramic tiles come in an array of styles, sizes and colors, making them coordinate with any type of decor. Ceramic tiles will pop up if the substrate was not prepared properly. The second and more likely cause of failure is poor-quality or incorrect adhesive use. If the adhesive does not bond securely to the tile and substrate, the tile will loosen and break free from the bond.

Things You'll Need

  • Flooring chisel
  • Mallet
  • Broom or shop vacuum
  • Metal scraper
  • Heat gun or blow dryer
  • 100-grit sandpaper
  • Thin-set adhesive
  • Remove the popped tiles from the floor. Place a flooring chisel onto the grout line and lightly tap it with a mallet to break up the surrounding grout. Move the flooring chisel around the entire grout line that encases the tile and continue to chip away and break out the grout until you can lift the tile out of place.

  • Clean up the broken grout with a broom or shop vacuum.

  • Scrape the old adhesive off the substrate with a metal scraper. If the adhesive does not come off easily, use a heat gun or blow dryer to soften it and then scrape it off. Do not allow the heat to point in one place, as this may cause a fire. Move the heat gun or blow dryer side to side or back and forth over the area. Scrape away the soft adhesive with the scraper.

  • Sand the substrate with 100-grit sandpaper to remove the remaining adhesive and rough up the surface. Sweep or vacuum up the dust and debris.

  • Apply new thin-set adhesive to the floor and set the tile back in place. Press the tile into the floor, and place a weight on top to create a strong bond. Allow the adhesive to dry for six to eight hours before regrouting. Repeat for each popped tile.

Tips & Warnings

  • Wear gloves, a dust mask and safety glasses when repairing floor tiles.
  • If you accidentally break a tile when you are removing it, remove a tile from an inconspicuous place and set it where you broke the tile. You can find extra tiles under refrigerators, stoves and your dishwasher. Replace those tiles with a new store-bought tile.


  • "Floors, Stairs & Carpets"; Time Life Editors; 1994
  • "Reader's Digest Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual"; Family Handyman Magazine Editors; 2005
  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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