Tile Work & Repair

How To Replace a Broken Tile

The kitchen is often the most abused room in the home. With all the traffic and cooking, accidents can happen and things get dropped. If you have a tile floor in your kitchen, a heavy pot or pan could easily crack one or more of the tiles if it falls. Tile flooring is pretty sturdy, but sometimes things just happen.

If one of your tiles has gotten cracked, it won’t just make your floor look bad. It will also allow water or other liquids like juice or milk soak into the wood underneath if it gets spilled in the area. Fixing a cracked or broken tile as quickly as possible can actually save a lot of water damage to the flooring.

To get the tile off the floor, you’ll need to crack it even more with a hammer. Place an old rag or towel over top of the cracked tile and tap it with a hammer hard enough to break it into several smaller pieces. The rag will help keep little shards of tile from flying up in your face as you break it.

Also, to keep the shock waves created by the hammer from damaging other tiles next to the broken one, you’ll need to remove all of the grout from around the damaged tile first. You can use a grout saw, which can be purchased at most hardware stores, or a rotary cutting tool. No matter what you use, wear safety glasses to protect your eyes.

It will take a little time to cut through the grout, it’s been down for awhile and has probably gotten quite hard. Just take your time and do it carefully so you don’t damage other tiles. Remove as much of the grout as possible, all of it if you can. After the grout is removed, use the hammer and rag to break the tile.

If the pieced of tile have sharp edges, use gloves to remove them from the floor. You will have to use a chisel or some other tool to pry most of the pieces up off of the wood surface. Once all of the tile pieces are up, you need to remove all of the old adhesive.

Use the chisel to pry the adhesive up from the wood, vacuum the area so that you can see what is loose and what is still stuck to the wood. If you don’t get the wood clean of all of the old adhesive or debris, the new tile won’t stick properly and will eventually just come loose from the floor.

If you’re lucky, you installed the tile after you moved into the home and have a few spare tiles stored back. If not you’ll probably have a hard time finding tile exactly like the ones on your floor. It will especially hard to find a match if the tiles have designs. If you can’t find an exact match, choose the one that’s the closest to the flooring.

Use a putty knife to apply tile adhesive to the back of the tile that your using. After you’ve applied the adhesive, use a notched trowel to spread the adhesive in a smooth, even coat on the entire back of the tile. It’s important to cover the whole area with the adhesive, but make sure that the edges are well covered.

Place the tile onto the floor and tap it with the handle of the hammer. You want to firmly set it on the floor surface, but don’t tap it so hard that it cracks. Position the tile in place so that the gaps around the edges are even. You don’t want to forget to leave room for grout around all of the edges.

The new tile will need at least 24 hours to dry before you can apply the grout. Once it’s dry and you start to grout the edges, make sure that you get it way down into the gap. You can use a grout float to press it down into the gap properly. Once you’ve applied all of the grout, use a damp rag or sponge to wipe up any excess grout before it dries on the tiles.

How To Create Beautiful Mosaics On a Budget

Mosaics are coming back into style, of course for some people they never went out of style. They’ve always loved the look and had pieces around their homes. But, more and more today you see mosaic art being used on all sorts of items for the home and garden.

If you’ve ever shopped for mosaic pieces, you know that most can be pretty expensive. But, why pay the high prices for beautiful mosaic accessories when you can easily make your own? And, making your own will allow you to create the perfect design that you want or need to match the rooms decor.

Mosaics can literally be made from almost anything. You can use china, tiles or any type of glass as well as stones, sea shells and other natural materials. When choosing the type of material that you want to use, consider whether it’s important for the surface to be level. If you’re applying mosaics to a table, you’ll want to be able to set glasses or vases on the table without them tipping over.

If you decide to use a material such as china, the pieces don’t all have to match, but they should be of uniform thickness. While you can certainly purchase mosaic pieces and kits, you can make your own from items that you have around the home. It’s a great way to recycle some old dishes or other pieces of glass or tile that you don’t need.

Freestyle designs can be made from just shattering glass pieces and then arranging them into a shape. But, if you want a more geometric look, you can purchase tile cutters to cut straight squares, rectangles or triangle shapes.

Once you know what you want to apply mosaics to, decide on the pattern you want to achieve. For a really casual, fun look, you can just place the pieces together the way that they fit the best. But, you can create designs like frogs, flowers, leaves or anything else that you need to blend in with the rest of the room.

Draw the design out on paper that is the same size as the item you are going to tile. For larger items like tables, gift wrap makes a great paper for designing or you can simply tape sheets of paper together to get the correct size. Any type of paper will work, but you need one that is plain so that you can see your design.

If the surface of the item is a light color, you can use tracing paper to apply the design directly to the piece. You can also create the mosaic on clear acrylic sheets and then glue them to the surface. The choice is really up to you and how confident you feel in the project.

If you decide to use the acrylic sheets, it’s really helpful if you draw out two separate designs. One will be used to get the correct placement of the pieces, then you can use the other one to place under the acrylic so that you can see the actual pattern.

After your design is drawn out, you’ll want to get an idea of the color scheme. Lay the mosaic pieces out on the pattern, start in the middle and work your way out to the edges. This will give you the chance to switch pieces and find the ones that are the best fit for the area. There should be at least a 1/8″ gap in between each piece for the grout, but the space can be larger if you want it to be.

Creating mosaic patterns is like working a jigsaw puzzle, just keep working with it until you get the perfect fit and look. To make sure that you’re happy with the design before doing all the work of making it, walk around and look at it for a bit. Getting an idea of how the piece is going to look from a distance and look in the room will help ensure that you really enjoy the creation.

No matter what you’re going to apply the mosaics to, the surface should be thoroughly cleaned so that the adhesive can adhere properly. You will also want to make sure that you purchase your tile adhesive according to the material that you will be using. Some adhesives work better with certain materials such as wood or glass.

When you start attaching your pieces to the item, work from the center out just as you did when you placed them on the pattern. Apply some tile adhesive to the back of each piece and lay it into place on the surface. Some adhesives dry rather quickly, so try not to take too long in placing the piece where it needs to be.

Follow the directions of the tile adhesive label for the proper drying time and let the mosaic completely dry. Once it has dried, you will need to apply grout. You can purchase grout that is pre-mixed or in powder form that you mix yourself. Either will work fine, but there’s no guess work with grout that is already ready to use.

Apply the grout to the mosaic making sure to press it down into the gaps around each piece. Don’t worry about getting it on top of the pieces, it can easily be wiped off with a damp rag. After you’ve gotten all the gaps filled, create a edging with the grout. You can apply it with a damp finger and smooth it down to the edges of the table or whatever your using.

After all the grout is applied, wipe the surface with a damp rag to remove any excess. You can use special tools to smooth the grout, but it’s easy to do with just a damp finger. Once your satisfied with the surface of the grout, place the item out of the way and allow it to dry for about a week before using the piece.

Tools Needed For Properly Installing Tiles

When you’re installing tile you’ll need many other tools besides just something to cut the tile with. There are several steps that you’ll need to go through from start to finish and having the correct tools can make the job so much easier and quicker.

To correctly spread and notch the adhesive you should use a notched trowel. The trowel that you use should depend on the type of adhesive that you use. The trowels will have different shaped and sized notches and you will need one that is designed for the adhesive you’re using.

You’ll also want to have a rubber mallet handy. While you might be able to press the tiles into the adhesive by hand, using a mallot will make sure that they’re correctly embedded into the adhesive. If they’re not down in the adhesive, they may not stay in place very long.

If you don’t have a rubber mallet and just don’t want to go buy one, you can try wrapping a soft, thick piece of material around the head of a hammer. But, I highly recommend a rubber mallot, you’re a lot less likely to damage the tiles. They’re usually pretty cheap and are a lot cheaper than having to go buy more tiles because you cracked them.

A bedding block is a really handy tool when installing ceramic tile, but you can easily make one yourself. A bedding block is a simple tool that is made from a wooden block that is covered with soft material. You can use an ordinary piece of scrap wood and cover it with a piece of carpet remnant.

A bedding block is used in the same way that a mallot is, but you slide the block over the tiles as you tap it. This is a great way to get the tiles into the adhesive and keep them even. The carpet or thick material secured to the wooden block will protect the tiles from damage.

Another thing that you may or may not need is spacers. I say “may not need” because some tiles actually have spacers built into them. But, if  your tiles don’t have them, then you’ll need to purchase some. Spacers are shaped like a “X” and are used to keep the tiles separated equally.

You place a spacer every where that you have four corners of the tiles meeting. Spacers make sure that all of your tiles are the same width apart so that when you apply the grout you have a nice even seam. They come in different types, some you have to remove once the grout is applied and some you just apply the grout right over them and cover them up.

Once you get all of your tiles installed you’ll want to make sure that you seal them thoroughly. The best and easiest way to apply the sealant is to use a foam rubber paint roller. It will help you get a nice smooth and even coat of sealant on all of the tiles you’ve installed.

A squeegee is a handy little tool to push the grout over the tiles and into the seams. You can use any size, just purchase one that is suitable for the size of the job your doing. Make sure that you find out what type of grout your tiles need. Some grout will actually stain your tiles if you get it on the surface.

A grout bag is similar to the type of bag that you fill with icing to decorate a cake. You just gently squeeze the grout out of a tube and into the joints. It may be a little tricky to get the correct pressure to squeeze the right amount of grout out of the bag, so be careful. You might even want to practice a little on a piece of cardboard or something.

To get a clean, uniform look on your tile grout, use a striking tool. This is a simple tool that you just run over the grout to give it a concave look. You can make one yourself and for small projects you can even use your finger if you’d prefer.

The Proper Tools For Cutting Tiles

While ceramic tile can add beauty to any room in your home, the chances of it fitting perfectly might one in a million. If you’ve ever worked with tiles you already know that the outside row always has to be cut to fit. Cutting ceramic tiles might seem intimidating, but it’s easy if you have the right tools and know what they do.

Tile cutters are tools that don’t need any power to run and are great at making simple, straight cuts. They’re the safest and least expensive type of tile cutting tool, but they’re limited in the types of cutting jobs they can do. Working similar to a glass cutter, a tile cutter scores a line across the tile so that they can be snapped at the line.

The tile cutter is usually a flat metal frame that is padded which holds the tile in place. An overhead arm has the cutting head with a wheel that scores the marked line. The cut edges are a little rough, but you can use a sanding stone to smooth them down.

Tile saws are electrically powered tools that utilize a diamond tipped blade to cut through the ceramic tile. The blade is constantly cooled by a stream of water to prevent overheating. Tile saws are faster and you’ll get much more accurate cuts and the edges will need very little smoothing if any.

Unlike regular table saws, tile saws have the motor and blade overhead. The tiles are placed on a sliding table that is moved by hand back and forth until the tile is cut. If you need your tiles cut at angles, you just simply angle them on the table.

Portable tile saws resemble regular circular saws that you use in carpentry. A diamond tip blade is used to cut through the tile and the saw and you move the saw by hand. You can purchase either wet or dry models, these don’t have the speed or accuracy of standard saws.

For larger stone tiles, brick saws work very well. They heavy duty versions of tile saws and also use water to cool the blade. Both the motor and the blade are overhead mounted using a pivoting frame. And, like with the other saws a diamond tipped blade is used to cut through the material.

The brick or tile is laid on the table and slid under the blade. You have to pull the handle to bring the blade down onto the brick and heavy springs pull the blade back up after the tile is cut. You can use this kind of saw on stones, bricks and the larger quarry tiles.

These types of saws are very expensive and heavy duty definitely means heavy. And, if you’re not going to be cutting big tiles you’d be better off getting a regular tile saw. Brick saws are really more for professional tile and masonry layers.

Remember you should always wear your safety gear when working with any power tool. But, you might want to take precautions and wear goggles even if you’re cutting tiles with a non-powered hand tool. Small chards of tile or glass can easily get into your skin or eyes and cause serious damage.

Work slowly and pay very close attention to where your hands and fingers are in comparison with the blade. If you can, hold the tile in place with a clamp. If you have a safety apron, it’s even a great idea to wear one anytime you’re cutting tiles.

Different Types of Wall Tiles For Your Home

If you’re planning on redecorating your home with tiles it’s important to know which tiles you should buy. There are several different materials that are used to make tiles.

Choosing the right one for the right area will help in making them last much longer. The material and the way that the tiles are manufactured will go a long ways in determining the durability and the amount of liquids and stains that the tiles will absorb.

Tiles are a great way to borders to a plain wall to make it stand out. They’re also great for protecting walls from water behind and around sinks in both the kitchen and the bathroom.

The most popular size of tile is 4 1/4″ square, these are used mostly on walls in bathrooms and kitchens. The next larger sizes are 8X8, 10X10 and 12X12, these sizes are growing more popular for home use.

Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tiles are made of a mixture of different clays and baked in high temperature kilns. A glazing is applied to the tiles before they’re baked to give them their shine and add durability.

The glaze is only applied to the top surface of the tile and can be easily chipped if it is hit with something hard, or if something is dropped onto the tiles. They are also very easily scratched and are better suited for walls than counter tops or floors.

Quarry Tile

Just like ceramic tiles, quarry tiles are made from mixing clays and baking the tiles. However, quarry tiles are normally used for interior floors. They’re almost always a deep red color and glaze isn’t applied to quarry tiles.

Quarry tiles have irregular shapes and are generally fairly porous. If you decide to use them on a floor, you should seal them to prevent them from soaking up stains. You can use a clear sealer or find a colored tinted sealer that will match.

Mosaic Tile

Mosaic tiles are also made from different types of clays, mixed together and then baked. However, mosaic’s have color pigments added to the clays that are blended in and go all the way through the tiles.

Mosaic’s are harder than most regular tiles and are well suited for floors or walls. They’re not as easily chipped as ceramic tiles, will resist moisture and are also highly stain resistant.

These tiles are actually only one inch square, but usually come pre-joined on sheets that are at least 12X12 to make installing them easier and faster.

Crafters and hobbyists have used mosaic tiles to make pictures, decorate picture frames and other crafts for years. They’re even used to cover table tops for a unique, durable and colorful design. They can easily be used to just edge any item that you’d like to add a colorful border to.

Natural Tile

Natural tiles are becoming one of the most popular. They’re made from materials such as marble, granite, limestone and slate. The materials are sliced at the correct thickness and then cut into pieces.

This type of tile is probably the most expensive that you can buy. But, you can find many look-a-like tiles that closely resemble the real materials. They are durable like real stone and are as much as 80% cheaper!

Almost every tile manufacturer will also stock trimming tiles. These are pieces needed to add the finished touch to your project. Trimming tiles will give a professional look to the corners and edges of your walls or counter tops.

How To Paint Tiles To Create a Whole New Room

Changing all of the tiles in a kitchen or bathroom can be quite expensive and time consuming. If you don’t have the money or the time, you can paint them to give the room a whole new look!

The options are limitless in how you can paint the tiles. You can create a checkerboard effect by painting alternating tiles or paint them all. You can also just add some decorations by using stencils.

There are many different styles of stencils to choose from. You can add some seashells to your bathroom tile, add fruits to your kitchen tile or do floral designs.

Basically all you’ll need is some ammonia, a paint roller or brushes, Alkyd paint and a shellac based primer. If you’re going to be using a paint roller, you’ll also need a paint tray.

The type and size of the paint brushes or rollers you’ll need will depend on how you want to paint the tiles.  For small designs you will of course need smaller brushes.

The surface of the tiles will need to be as clean as you can get them in order for the primer to adhere properly. Ammonia and water is a good cleaning solution to use on tiles, clean them throughly and let them completely dry.

Next apply the shellac based primer to the tiles that you want to paint. It will probably be easier to use a small roller to apply the shellac, but you can use a regular brush or even one of the sponge brushes if you’d prefer.

The primer must be throughly dry before applying any paint to the tiles. Follow the instructions on the label for the correct drying times, they may vary with different brands of primer.

After the primer has dried you’re ready for the creative part! If you enjoy painting or crafting, adding the designs to the tiles will be lots of fun!

Stencils can be easily taped into place with either painter’s tape or regular masking tape. Tape can also be used to line the edge of the tiles to keep the paint from getting on the other tiles and to make sure that you get a nice smooth paint line.

If you’re designing your own tiles for installation, it’s best to use unfinished tiles. You can use finished tiles throughout the room and then just purchase enough unfinished ones to paint for accents around your stove or sink.

Unfinished tiles should first be cleaned with vinegar before applying any paint. Then use epoxy paints to create the designs or colored tiles and let them dry for at least 24 hours.

Once they’re dry, you will need to bake the tiles at 325 degrees. The baking time will vary between manufacturers, so if you’re planning on painting them, ask how long to bake them when you buy them.

After they’ve baked for the appropriate amount of time and cooled, you apply them in the same way as you do any tile. Baking the paint onto the tile will make them last longer in areas where there is a lot of moisture such as a bathroom or around your stove.

Since you obviously can’t bake the tiles that are already installed, you can apply a moisture resistant polyurethane to them after you’ve finished the painting. The polyurethane will help the designs stand up to moisture and cleaning much better.

If you don’t have the time to do a tile makeover with paints just use some rub on transfers to add designs. Although, there won’t be as many different choices in transfers you can still find many pretty designs.

For any room that already has a theme, you can design the tiles to match. You can choose a design from the wall paper, fabric or anything else in the room. Just trace the design and use some wax free transfer paper to put the design on the tiles.

There are just so many ways of decorating tiles to match any decor you have. With a little imagination and time, everyone will think that you’ve installed all new tiles.

How To Install Ceramic Wall Tiles

Ceramic tiles aren’t only beautiful, they’re very long lasting and easy to take care of. They’re also very durable and it’s almost impossible to stain or mark them!

While tiles are traditionally used in bathrooms and kitchens they can be used to make any room more beautiful. Contrary to what most people think ceramic tiles are not hard to install.

Ceramic tiles come in several different sizes, you can find them as small as 1 inch and as large as 18 inches square. The 1 inch squares are normally sold attached to a backing and in 12 inch squares so they’re not so time consuming to install.

They also come in almost any color imaginable to match any decor. You can find solid color tiles, textured tiles and even find tiles with designs such as flowers or geometric lines.

What you may not know about tile is that all tiles aren’t water resistant! Ceramic tiles that are called non-vitreous actually absorb any water that they come in contact with!

Non-vitreous tiles should never be used anywhere that there’s lots of water or moisture. Tiles that will resist water are called semi-vitreous and impervious. While semi-vitreous will absorb some water, impervious won’t absorb any at all.

You can install ceramic tiles on almost any solid, flat surface. Cement backer board is actually the best wall covering to install  tiles on. It’s much like drywall, but it’s resistant to moisture.
It’s perfect for showers, bathrooms and as a back splash at sinks.

When installing ceramic tile you want to start in the center of the wall and work your way out to the sides. This way the tiles on both ends of the walls will be about the same size.

Measure carefully and find the center of your wall, you can mark it using a level to make sure that the line is straight. You need to mark both the center horizontal and center vertical lines.

It’s easier if you find the center vertically first, then measure how high the wall is and divide that in half. Measure down the line half way and make a vertical mark so that you end up with a big plus symbol.

Apply a coat of the tile adhesive to one side of the plus symbol at the direct center. You should only work on a 3 X 3 foot section at a time so that the adhesive don’t become to dry to hold the tiles securely in place.

You should also purchase tile spacers, these will be placed at the sides of each tile to make sure the spacing is the same. The spacing can make a lot of difference when applying the grout, it will be very noticeable if some tiles are closer or wider apart.

Install your first tile so that the mark comes out in the center of the tile. You will need to use a slight twisting motion with each tile to make sure the adhesive is covering the back. Then just press the tile firmly in place at the correct area.

You’ll need to cut the tiles to get them to fit correctly at the ends of each row. The easiest way to cut them is with a ceramic tile cutter. You probably don’t own one, but they can be rented at most tool rental stores.

Measure and mark the cutting guide onto the tile. Then you just use the tile cutter to score the marks and snap the tile at the scored line. You can smooth out any rough edges with sandpaper around 80 grit.

A ceramic tile cutter will only cut straight lines. If you need irregular tiles or cuts that go around wall fixtures you’ll need to use tile nippers.

Tile nippers “nip” out little pieces of tile at a time. If the cut is complicated it may take a little while to get the exact shape you need. Just take your time and the tile will fit into place much better.

Once you’ve gotten all of the tiles installed let them set overnight so the adhesive can dry throughly. Before you start applying the grout, you’ll need to remove all of the tile spacers.

There are several types of grouting that is used for tiles. The type you will need to purchase depends on the spacing of your tiles. If the space is 1/8″ or less you can use un-sanded grout, for any space over that size purchase sanded grout.

If the tiles were installed any where that there’s water or moisture, purchase a grout that is waterproof. Read the label to make sure, or ask a sales agent. If it’s not waterproof it won’t last long in bathrooms or around sinks.

The grout should be applied at a 45 degree angle and just like when you installed the tiles, work in a 3 X 3 foot area at a time. After you’ve completed the area, wipe off any excess with clear water and a sponge.

Give the grouting about 30 minutes to dry and go back over each section with a soft, dry cloth and buff out any haze on the grout. Let it dry for another day and then buff off any more haze that’s appeared.

If the tile was installed in a bathroom or kitchen area you’ll need to seal the bottom where it meets the tub or sink. Use a mildew resistant silicone caulk to prevent water from getting behind the tiles and ruining the wall.

You can use your finger to smooth the caulking along the bottom. Adding a small drop of dish detergent will keep the caulk from sticking to your fingers!

After the grout has cured for about a week, you should apply a grout sealer to it. The sealer will keep stains or dirt getting in the grout and making it look dark or dirty!