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Fix Cracked Floor Tiles

man grouting tile flooring slabs

Floor tiles are a popular flooring choice particularly in bathrooms and kitchens; they’re durable, they last a long time, they’re waterproof, and they’re easy to clean. But, even though floor tiles are strong, they are used in high-traffic rooms which means that they’ll likely wear out, crack, or loosen. It’s best to address the issue as soon as possible before it causes further issues like water seeping under the cracked tile and becoming infested with mold. 

Whether you’re a flooring expert or new to the DIY world, this article will help you to understand why floor tiles loosen and how to fix them. 

What causes floor tiles to crack and loosen?

There are several reasons floor tiles may become loose and they include the following:

Changes in temperature

Tiles expand in heat and contract in the cold and while it’s a minor and generally unnoticeable change in size, when you multiply it by the number of tiles, that is a lot of shifting over time. Therefore, thermal changes can lead to loosening or cracking tiles.

House movement

Houses settle over time and as the foundation shifts and the walls move, a small perimeter is left between the wall and the floor tiles as a result of the movement. If no perimeter is laid or the house shifts beyond that perimeter, it can cause tiles to loosen or crack.

Type of adhesive

Not all adhesives are created equal and some are not strong enough to hold tile which can cause it to loosen over time. Even the highest-quality adhesives will inevitably weaken and can eventually lead to loose tiles. 

Spot bonding

People will often use spot bonding as a way of laying tile which involves placing a dot of adhesive on each corner and one in the center of the tile before pressing it into place. This method leaves too much room for gaps between the tile and can allow tiles to become loose. 

Differences in surfaces

A large difference between the underside of the tile and the surface beneath the tile can lead to faster loosening and cracking of tiles. 

How to fix cracked tiles

Once a tile is cracked, it’s impossible to seamlessly put it back together. It doesn’t look good and it can lead to greater issues in the future. Do yourself a favor and replace the tile instead of attempting to repair it. Here’s how:

One thing to note when replacing a broken or cracked tile is that you must take special care not to break the surrounding tiles. This is why we recommend you breaking it into several pieces rather than pulling up just one or two large chunks. 

How to fix loose tiles

To deal with one or more floor tiles that have come loose, simply remove the loose tiles. If the adjoining tiles are also loose, scrape out the grout around them and pry them out carefully as well. You can do this by slipping a putty knife under the tiles to break them loose from any remaining mastic. Then scrape the underside of the tiles to remove the old mastic and apply fresh mastic on the underside. Press the tiles into place, allow to dry for 24 hours, then regrout the tiles.

Good as new!