+ How to fix a damaged tile
The great look of a tiled wall can be ruined by a broken tile or places where the grout has discoloured (the paste that fills the gap around the tile). Instead of retiling the whole area, here are some other options:
Replacing a damaged tile
The hardest part of replacing a damaged tile is removing the old one.
Use a grout raker to loosen the grout around all four edges of the damaged tile and rake it out. Drill some holes in the centre of the tile to weaken its surface. Use an electric drill fitted with a ceramic tile bit. Don't forget to wear a dust mask, gloves and goggles to protect your eyes.
Use a hammer and cold chisel to cut through the tile between the holes and to chop out the central portion. Be careful not to dig the chisel into the wall. Remember to protect your hands with thick gloves.
Work towards the edges of the tile. Gently break away the pieces, careful not to damage the neighbouring tiles. Scrape out as much of the adhesive as possible once the tile is removed.
To test that you have removed enough adhesive, insert the new dry tile. Make sure it is not protruding above the rest of the tiles. Coat the back of the tile with tile adhesive, using an adhesive spreader and position it in the hole.
Press the tile into place with a wooden batten to ensure that it is flush with the other tiles. To maintain the gap for grout, fit tile spacers perpendicular to the tile's surface. This will also prevent the tile from slipping out of position before the adhesive is dry. When the adhesive has dried, remove the spacers and grout the tiles.
If using powdered grout, mix it with water to a creamy consistency. To press the grout firmly into the joints between the tiles use a small trowel or grout spreader. Move the trowel or spreader diagonally over the joints. This will prevent the grout being dragged out again.
Use a damp sponge to wipe the excess grout from the tiled surface. Try not to press too hard or you may remove grout from the joints. Rinse the sponge frequently to keep it free from grout build-up.
Run a grout shaper or grouting tool along the joints to give them a neat profile. Remove excess grout with the sponge. Leave to dry, then polish the tiles with a soft cloth.
+ How do I fix cracks and holes in plaster?
A deep crack can be filled by using a screwed-up newspaper as a base for the filler. With larger holes you may need to build up several thin coats of filler rather than one thick one, letting each coat dry before adding the next.
Use a filling knife or scraper to rake loose plaster from the crack. Use a small paintbrush to dampen the crack with water. This will make the filler dry slowly and helps to stop it shrinking and falling out of the crack.
Load some filler onto a filling knife. Draw it across the hole at right angles to the crack, firmly pressing it in until the filler is just proud of the surface. Leave it to dry, then smooth with the medium-grade abrasive paper wrapped around a sanding block.
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