Floor Repair

Replace a Damaged Ceramic Tile

Use precisely applied hammer blows and careful attention to detail to easily replace that cracked or otherwise damaged ceramic tile you’ve been meaning to fix for ages. The following steps apply to both wall and floor tiles, requiring just a few basic tools.

Tips to Consider Before Beginning

  • Prepare your work area! Lay out an old blanket or a large sheet of cloth to protect delicate surfaces from flying debris. Acrylic can easily be scratched by a ceramic edge. Tape the fabric to edges, carefully lining the tape to cover the perimeter of your work zone, placing a sack or bag below the broken tile to catch loose pieces as you work.
  • Before even picking up a tool, look at the cracked tile. It may have a unique texture or shade that you don’t have in storage. That’s frustrating but not a deal-breaker. Take a sample of the tile to local hardware stores to find its counterpart.
  • Add the dimension of depth to your matching process. Even if you find a near identical tile as a replacement, it may be thinner than the original. Use a shallow layer of mastic to compensate. Avoid tiles that are too thick.
  • Be aware of the type of wall you’re working on. Again, tile and tools will gouge and scrape drywall, so proceed with caution, minimizing movement to avoid damaging the soft material of the wall. You don’t want to create additional work for yourself.
  • Work smart by purchasing eye protection and a thick pair of safety gloves. The reasoning behind this is obvious, ceramic debris can fly off in wild directions, scratching an eye or cutting open the soft skin of your hand.
  • Hopefully the incident was the result of an unfortunate accident, but, If you don’t know the cause of the damage, there may be settling issues, structural problems with the wall that need attention before replacing the ceramic tile.

Some Practical Concerns for Grout

For showers, baths, kitchen wall tiles, and any surface that is frequently soaked in water, check the label of the grout to see if it’s appropriate for use. Does it have a constituent that waterproofs the mix? A container, a quart or thereabouts, of mixed grout and adhesive makes basic patch jobs a breeze; it’s also an inexpensive solution, but is it the best answer for the work? You need to prepare for several options, to reconcile each with the task at hand. Regularly wet walls and floors may need a distinctly separate ceramic tile grout and adhesive or a repair option that’s specially designed for wet areas.

Shop around and pick up several likely candidates for the work. Read the labels and you’ll notice highlighted terms for “sanded” and “non-sanded.” The optimal selection hinges on the width of your grout. For example:

  • For a width of 1/8” or less, use non-sanded grout to carefully fill the tiny spaces.
  • For spacing that’s wider than the above figure, use a mix that’s “sanded.”
  • Both of the previous solutions work for grout widths 1/8” thick.

The Skill of Blending New and Old Grout

There’s little chance of matching the grout while it’s still fresh from mixing. Take some of the just mixed compound and leave it on a flat scrap of paper to dry. Now it’s time to compare the dried mix to the old grout. Clean the wall to be sure you’re seeing the true color of the old grout and try and match the color and texture of the two compounds, old to new. If the two substances still look incompatible, alter the mix to one that’s closer to the original. As an example, try switching from a “sanded” grout to a “non-sanded” form to alter the hue and texture. It may take time, but you’ll hit on the right combination with patience.

Repairing a Hardwood Floor

Any confident do-it-yourself enthusiast can pick up a few tools, get down on the floor, and fix light damage to hardwood flooring, but always ask yourself what a professional craftsman would do before engaging in your project. Who knows, you may decide you’d be better off making an appointment with the expert, calling him out to add an expert touch to the work. Let’s take a closer look at some routine problems encountered in hardwood flooring, the repair options available, and the best ways to conduct those options.

Repairing Hardwood Flooring: Fractures, Cracks, and Splits

The culprits responsible for tiny cracks and splits in wood range from excess humidity to natural age, factors that are mostly repelled by protective coatings. Time works these destructive elements past the coating, causing minor swelling that in turn develops into hairline cracks. Further division is avoided by using angled nails to secure the widening sections in place, minimizing the damage. Concealing your handiwork is done by applying some compound putty for wood. The end result is barely discernible from undamaged sections. However, larger splits and cracks present an ugly aesthetic that presents a problem to the most expert craftsman. Only thoughtful consideration, perhaps consulting a hardwood flooring professional, can resolve the problem, and this solution may involve a complete refinishing of the floor. Additionally, before engaging in that refinishing process, you’d be well advised to replace the plank before it decays further.

Repairing Hardwood Flooring: Plank Separation

As the elements and time combine to have their way with wood, hardwood flooring undergoes changes, shrinking and expanding as it dries out, expanding slightly as moisture enters the same space. The phenomenon, nature’s single-minded effects, reduces those lovely tight joins between the planks, the seamless lines transforming into tiny gaps that rub together to create a creak as occupants walk the floor. It’s a cyclic action, one defined by the season, and the gaps will vary in width depending on the time of year. Thinner than the width of a nickel, the gaps are normal, a response to the dampness and dryness in the air at different times of the year. If the cracks are wider than this illustrated example, consider making a call to your local hardwood floor expert to investigate means of tightening the gaps.

Repairing Hardwood Flooring: Resolving Buckling Issues

Tracing buckling problems involves some detective work. Call a hardwood floor professional to get on the case, checking the species of wood installed, to investigate possible improper installation, to get to the source of the problem. He’ll look at planks, observing potential warping and lifting from the subfloor, eventually identifying the cause and necessary measures required to correct the issue. The final action is to firmly fix the planks to the subfloor once more, executing the solution after resolving the cause.

Repairing Hardwood Flooring: Cupped Floors

This descriptive term is mostly self-explanatory. Cupping is a scenario where edges rise and the center drops. In the case of hardwood flooring, the edges of the planks raise along the width of a plank and sink in the middle. Not surprisingly, dampness is the culprit in this situation. The lower portion of the board is damper than the top section, and the imbalance results in this cupping phenomenon, a problem that’s sometimes also referred to as washboarding. The solution is to bring balance to the board, giving the wood the chance to bounce back and find its natural shape once more. Once, stable, cured of moisture, you can call in the experts and assess the issue, sanding the any remaining cupping out of the surface, refinishing the hardwood floor.

Repairing Hardwood Flooring: Warping

It’s frustrating to walk across your and feel a crooked plank beneath your feet. The twists and warps of hardwood flooring can trip a family member, causing them to stumble and drop fall. Aesthetically, the warps spoil that smooth appeal, presenting a serious problem that needs an intelligent resolution. Unevenly tainted by areas of dampness, the wood is expanding and contracting, an issue that has to be addressed, dried out. Hopefully the wood will spring back to its former shape, but sanding may be required to level the surface.

Addressing Other Hardwood Repair Problems

Most of the serious problems have been discussed, but there are always minor issues to look out for. Boards loosen and installation problems cause future issues. Time passes and deep scratches appear. Some of these problems can be repaired with a repair kit, quickly fixing light scratches and scrapes. A crayon, color-matched to the wood, will fill in the light scratches, but deeper scratches require a more professional solution, and we’re back to refinishing, something already covered in an earlier section. Loose planks, shifting, squeaking and scraping underfoot, need little more than a hammer and a few basic tools to stabilize the planks, but, if the problem persists, you’d be best to get on the phone and call out professional help to permanently fix the planks in place.