Total Time:
1 1/2 hours

Total cost:
$40 (not including tile)

Tools and Materials

Media Platforms Design Team

Rubber Float

Works like a squeegee to pack grout into joints

Media Platforms Design Team

Grout Saw

Designed to scrape out the grout

between tiles

Media Platforms Design Team

1/4″ Notched Trowel

creates grooves in mortar so it won’t ooze when tile is set

Also have on hand: Painter’s tape, safety goggles, hammer, chisel, sponge, thin-set mortar, replacement tile, rubber mallet, grout, soft cloth

•Place painter’s tape along the edges of neighboring tiles to prevent damaging them.

•Rake out the grout in the joints around the broken tile with a grout saw.

Media Platforms Design Team

Media Platforms Design Team

(2) Chip away tile

•Don safety goggles to protect eyes from tile shards.

•Identify a weak spot in the tile (likely near the crack) and remove a small piece, using a hammer and chisel to loosen it as needed.

•Working out from the opening, chip up the rest of the tile, holding the chisel at a 45-degree angle so as not to gouge the subfloor.

(3) Prep subfloor

•Scrape away the old mortar with a hammer and chisel until the surface is smooth and level.

•Clear the area of dust and debris with a damp sponge.

Media Platforms Design Team

Pour water onto old mortar and let soak for 15 minutes to soften it up before removing it with the chisel.

Media Platforms Design Team

(4) Apply mortar

•Mix thin-set mortar according to the instructions on the package.
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•Holding a notched trowel at a 45-degree angle to the subfloor, spread a 1/4″-thick bed of mortar. (The grooves should run in the same direction.)


Thin-set comes in 10-pound bags. For minor repairs, ask your tile supplier to sell you a smaller batch from an open bag.

(5) Set tile

•Lay the new tile onto the mortar, adjusting it so that the joints all around are a uniform width.

•Tamp down the tile with a rubber mallet to create a secure bond.

Media Platforms Design Team

Media Platforms Design Team

(6) Regrout joints

•Mix grout according to the instructions on the package, then place a fist-sized amount on the tile.

•Force the grout into the joints with a rubber float, holding the float at a 45-degree angle to the tile and pulling diagonally across the joints. Add more grout as needed.


Plastic spacers, available at hardware stores, can be positioned around the tile to deliver perfectly even joints.

(7) Clean tile

•Remove excess grout with a damp sponge, gently wiping across the joints to keep from digging up the fresh grout. Rinse after every pass.

•Wait for the surface to dry thoroughly, then buff with a dry cloth.

•Wait 24 hours before walking on the tile.

Media Platforms Design Team

To prevent grout from cracking as it cures, mist it occasionally with water over the next few days.

Media Platforms Design Team

Finding Tile:

If you need to replace a broken floor tile but didn’t save spares from the initial installation, you have a few options.

•First contact your tile layer or supplier and see if they have any leftover stock. If not, ask for the tile’s make and model number. The Ceramic Tile Distributors Association (800-938-2832, can help you locate the manufacturer and order a replacement. Unfortunately, tiles are produced in limited runs, so you may not be able to find an exact duplicate.

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•If that’s the case, decorative tile manufacturers, such as Dunis Studios (210-497-5787, and North Prairie Tileworks (612-871-3421,, can create a new tile, color-matched to a sample of the original. This service starts at about $35 for each tile, peanuts compared to what it costs to replace an entire floor.

•Or don’t sweat it and lay a completely different tile as an accent, though you’ll probably need to replace more than one tile to create a balanced design.