Kitchen Remodeling
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Basic Maintenance: Replacing Kitchen Countertop Or Floor Tile

Tile is commonly used in the kitchen, whether on the floor, as the kitchen countertop, or on the wall as a decorative backsplash. But what do you do when a tile becomes stained, chipped, or broken? Replacing a tile is an ideal job for a do-it-yourselfer with just a bit of home repair experience, the right tools, and patience. Follow these steps to replace a tile on your kitchen countertop or floor.

  1. Remove the surrounding grout: Use a grout saw, utility knife, or razor blade (for a thin joint) to cut completely through the grout. If you don't remove all of the grout in between, the compression can cause other tiles to chip when you remove the broken one.
  2. Remove the Old Tile: If the tile is chipped, use a hammer and a masonry chisel to carefully break off one corner of the tile. Then, placing the chisel under the tile lip, hold the chisel at a 45-degree angle and tap, breaking off pieces of the broken tile. You can also use a drill with a ceramic bit to drill holes in the tile pieces, loosening their attachment to the substrate.
  3. Clean the Substrate: Soak the leftover dried thinset mortar in water for about 15 minutes, or until you can break off chunks of it with your masonry chisel. Then use a razor scraper to clean the rest off the floor or countertop.
  4. Apply Adhesive for the New Tile: Using a notched trowel, cover the replacement tile evenly with thinset, spreading it from one corner to the next. For the best adhesion, you can also cover the substrate with the thinset mortar.
  5. Insert the New Tile: Place the tile down and make sure it's level with the other tiles. Line up the new tile with the others, using a spacer if necessary. Let it sit for 24 hours to make sure the thinset has cured.
  6. Add Grout: Mix up the amount of grout you will need and use a rubber grout float to add it to the channels between the tiles. Wait 5 to 15 minutes, until the grout no longer feels tacky, and wipe off any excess with a sponge, being careful not to dig it out of its channels.
  7. Wait: Allow the new grout to sit for 24 hours. Once it has dried, you can use a paintbrush to apply clear sealant to the new grout. Make sure everything is completely dry before you work on it.

This project is fairly simple for those who are interested in doing their own home repairs, and it demonstrates the great thing about using tile for your kitchen countertop or floor: when one tile is damaged, you don't need a whole new kitchen countertop or floor to keep things looking fresh.