Replacing Tiles for The Uninitiated

Replacing TilesAlas, the Law of Entropy dictates that everything and everyone must eventually move to a state of entropy - that is, things break. Tiles, of course, are no different. While it’s easier to simply buy a new tile and replace the broken one, some people opt to try and repair them, whether for the lesser expense or simply the joy of it in itself. Needless to say, before actually getting started on repairs you should probably try to figure out just what exactly caused you to need to repair it in the first place. It’d be pretty counter-productive to try and repair or replace the tile if it’s only going to be broken again within a year or two.

Ultimately, it’s best to hire a professional when working with tiles, as they have the skills and equipment to do the job quickly, efficiently and safely. That’s not always an option however, so if you do decide to do the job yourself, make sure you’re careful, pay close attention to the finer details and prepared for a lot of mess. Careful with older tiles too -- they may give off asbestos. If so, you legally must hire a licensed asbestos contractor.

Broadly speaking, the easiest tiles to remove without damaging said tiles or the surface they’re connected are those placed upon the wallboard. Others have a greater chance of breaking and even those that don’t are going to produce a fair amount of mess. Make sure that your furniture and carpets are covered and you’re wearing the appropriate safety gear. There’s also a danger of damaging the ceiling or wall if you’re not cautious. This is yet another reason why you should consider hiring a professional; sure removing a tile may not seem like much, but nothing is ever what it seems. Usually you can tell how difficult a job is going to be within the removal of the first few tiles. If it’s obvious you’re going to cause more damage than you’re going to fix, stop it there and get help. It’d be cheaper in the long run.

If you wish to remove it yourself, the first step is to refer the tile’s sealants; the grout and caulk. While the grout should be easily removed with a utility knife with little difficulty, the caulk may require heating. Use a heat gun for that end. Once both of those have been removed, carefully try to pry the tile off with a putty knife. If it comes off with minimal hassle feel free to continue on your own. If, however, it breaks or gives you more hassle than you’re comfortable with, stop there. Once the tile is gone, you’ll then need to remove the cement/adhesive. There are numerous chemicals available at most DIY stores that can assist you with this, however be advised that most, if not all, will give of noxious fumes and be flammable. Use caution and make sure the area is well ventilated.

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