Broken bathroom tiles let moisture seep below the surface to cause real damage. You should always fix a broken tile, but experts say it may require more than yanking out one to set another.
Floor, shower and wall tile repair
Replacing a single cracked or chipped tile is like surgery. Technicians dig out grout around the tile and pry it up without damaging adjacent ones. Then they repair the backer beneath and any waterproof membrane before setting the new tile and regrouting.
Finding matching tiles is key. If you don’t have spare tiles, it’s difficult to find a match that’s the same size and thickness, especially with older, likely discontinued tiles. Sometimes installers can remove a portion of the floor or shower and use a different type of tile as an accent, but you can avoid the trouble entirely by setting aside extras during initial installation.
Matching grout also poses problems since colors fade and mixtures at the hardware store might be off, but the tile company could color seal the grout, staining the repair to match.
Cost to replace, regrout tile
As with any home repair, price varies depending on the tile, bathroom size, type of waterproof membrane and other factors.
Many tile companies charge an hourly rate plus materials with a minimum cost per job. You might pay anywhere from a $150 minimum to a $400 per day rate, plus materials. Expect to pay more to regrout the entire bathroom. Angie’s List members nationally report an average price of $411 to regrout an area of ceramic tile.
Tile repair vs. replacement
A simple bathroom tile repair might be the wrong choice. Broken tiles look unappealing, but the damage beneath is probably worse.
Surface issues usually indicate improper tile installation. Seeping water has likely damaged the subfloor or framing and could be feeding mold. This happens most often with busted shower tiles, requiring the installer to replace the entire area.
Determining the problem’s extent may prove impossible before cutting in, making some installers wary of such jobs.
It’s always important to hire a knowledgeable professional, preferably one with certifications from tile organizations. Bathroom tile experts will tell you if the problem requires more than a patch – or, better yet, do it right the first time.
By James Figy, Angie’s List (TNS). James Figy is a reporter for Angie’s List, a trusted provider of local consumer reviews and an online marketplace of services from top-rated providers. Visit AngiesList.com.