Repairing a floor tile

To keep your tiled floor looking immaculate, do repairs in time. PHOTO/

What you need to know:

The simplest and fastest trick for covering up a chipped tile is using nail varnish to cover up the chipped area.

A tiled floor looks beautiful until the tiles start getting loose or chipped. Apart from the damaged area becoming an eyesore, loosened or broken tiles allow water to seep through, causing more damage.

Fred Iga, a tiler, says there are various reasons why tiles get damaged such as temperature changes.  Tiles expand in heat and contract in the cold and while these changes are generally unnoticeable over a long period, these thermal changes can lead to loosening or cracking tiles. 

Tiles are also affected by the foundation shifting over time. Houses settle over time and as the foundation shifts and the walls move, if no perimeter is laid or the house shifts beyond that perimeter, it can cause tiles to loosen or crack.

Iga says the commonest problem with floor tiles is small chips, which occur around the edges. They appear more visible on darker tiles, and they expose the lighter ceramic or porcelain underneath.

“You do not need to replace a tile that has simply chipped. The simplest and fastest trick for covering up a chipped tile is using nail varnish to cover up the chipped area. Simply find a matching shade or mix two colours to find the right shade. When you notice that with time the varnish is wearing off, simply use nail varnish remover, and re-apply the original mix,” he says.

Iga says while a homeowner may repair their tile floor because it looks old or they are tired of the current look, oftentimes, it is because a tiles are dislodged.

“Contrary to most opinions that if one tile is dislodged, that is all you need to tackle, usually, when one tile comes off the floor, those surrounding it will dislodge because they are connected,” he says.


However, some tiles are beyond this cosmetic intervention and need to be replaced. Iga says they usually suggest homeowners to order for 10 per cent more tiles than they need to allow for cut pieces and spares. But if you do not have any spares, Iga recommends working with a professional tiler to get the right type and shade for replacement.

“A tiler will know how to prepare the floor because they understand what the floor is going to receive thus giving it the necessary treatment.

For instance, the whole floor must be ripped off because often times, when you remove one tile, the next will get off. Thereafter, the old bonding material must be removed rather than adding to it. That way you will avoid the issue where doors do not close well owing to a rise in the floor level,” he explains.

One of the items used to prepare the floor is sand which Iga says must be carefully chosen. “Not every sand type works. For instance, river sand is for plastering yet for tiling, one needs lake sand which has the very fine grains required for the job,” says Iga.

You also need the right bonding material because its strength makes or breaks the floor.

“In case of porcelain tiles, adhesive with triple strength is ideal because while there are many others, this one is stronger and will hold them to the concrete well. However, if the floor is ceramic, then a less strong adhesive will work,” he says.

With sand, cement and adhesive in place, Iga says the mixture ratio is 1:1:1. “That is regardless of the container you are using. For instance, if it is a wheelbarrow, it is one wheelbarrow of sand, one wheelbarrow of adhesive and one wheelbarrow of cement mixed with water to make mortar,” he says.

The tiler will then use a notch trowel and spread the mixture of cement and adhesive on the ground. They will then even it out with the same trowel before starting to lay on the tiles.

“It is imperative to work with a professional tiler as they will also avoid instances of having to mix more cement and sand to take care of the valleys where the floor is not even,” he says.

After the tiles have been placed, grout must be applied to ensure the floor is well sealed.

“When picking grout, one must be keen to pick that which is waterproof is ideal because not every grout is water proof. With waterproof grout, not only do you protect the floor from taking in every water that spills on it but also make no room for small insects to find habitation,” Iga says.

Save the materials that may vary from vendor to vendor, the tiler’s labour is averagely Shs25,000 per square metre.


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