How to remove and replace a broken tile
Restore imperfect wall or floor tiling
Accidents can happen and occasionally you may find that you have a broken wall or floor tile that needs replacing. Whether it’s a large floor tile that has been completely smashed or a small wall tile that has been chipped, we’ll explain how to repair it in this guide.
- Gaffer or masking tape
- Replacement tile
- Tile adhesive - we recommend a ready-to-use tile adhesive to save you time
- Grout remover or electric grout remover tool. An electric grout remover is best suited if you have lots of grout to remove
- Combi drill
- Tile drill bit
- Claw hammer
- Bolster or cold chisel
- Stripping knife - We recommend a stripping knife with a 2 or 3inch (“) blade
- Grout spreader (also known as a grout float)
- Tile spacers - measure the space between tiles to find out what size tile spacers to get
- Soft cloth
- Dust sheet
Watch our video or follow the steps to discover how to remove and replace a chipped, cracked or smashed tile. In this guide we’re replacing a wall tile but the steps would be the same for a floor tile.
Lay down a dust sheet. If you are working over a bath, basin, shower tray or kitchen sink put the plug in or block the drainage hole to stop any loose material going down the drain .
Loosen and remove the grout around all four edges of the damaged tile with a grout remover.
Do all the vertical joints first and then the horizontal ones, to make sure that you don’t miss any areas.
If using a manual grout remover, place the blade onto the grout and scrape along it to remove it.
If using an electric grout remover, choose a suitable tip and insert into the tool, following the product instructions. Plug the tool in to a power socket and hold it against the grout at a 45 degree angle. Turn it on to a low speed and make small strokes to remove the grout. Adjust the speed and pressure if needed.
Remove the grout as far back as the thickness of the tile.
Place a piece of gaffer or masking tape onto the centre of the tile , or as close to the centre that you can. This will help stop the drill bit from slipping on the tile surface.
If the tile is very large, put more than one piece of tape on, spaced out evenly.
Drill a hole into the tape to weaken its surface, using a combi drill fitted with a tile drill bit. Use a slow speed at first to establish the hole and drill through the tile. Don’t drill too deep otherwise you could hit any pipes or cables in the wall.
Remove the tape. Then use a hammer and small bolster or cold chisel to cut through the tile between the holes and to chip out the central portion. Take care not to dig the chisel into the wall.
Work towards the edges of the tile, gently breaking pieces away and be especially careful as you get close to neighbouring tiles. Once the tile is removed, scrape out as much adhesive as possible with a stripping knife.
Insert the new tile, without adhesive, to check that it fits smoothly into the gap. It should not protrude further from the wall or floor than the surrounding tiles. If it does, scrape away some more of the old adhesive.
Coat the back of the tile with tile adhesive, using a grout spreader, and position it in the gap.
Press the tile into place and ensure that it is positioned flush with the other tiles.
Fit tile spacers at right angles to the tile’s surface to maintain the gap for grout and prevent the tile from slipping out of position before the adhesive is dry. Wipe away any adhesive from the front of the tile with a damp cloth.
When the adhesive has dried, remove the spacers and grout the tiles, see How to tile a wall for step-by-step instructions.