Bathroom tiles might occasionally fall off. This might happen if they are damaged or if the mortar is old. Instead of calling a contractor to do it for you, replacing bathroom tiles that have fallen off is something that you can do yourself, and this is exactly what we’re here to teach you right here and now.
How to Replace Fallen Off Bathroom Tiles
Let’s get right to it and figure out how to remove those bathroom tiles that have fallen off the walls in your shower, or from the walls in general. Follow the steps as outlined below in order to complete this process. Keep in mind that here we will also cover how to remove old tiles that are broken or loose, as this may very well be the case. Tiles don’t always fall off in one single piece.
Step 1: Remove the Fixtures
If you are just removing a single tile or a few tiles that do not touch any of your fixtures, then you can skip this step. However, if there are fixtures in the way of your tile replacement job, then you will need to remove them.
Anything including a faucet, showerhead, and overflow drain needs to be unscrewed and removed. Of course, you will be reinstalling them when the job is done. You can always ask for professional assistance, but with that being said, as long as you have a screwdriver, this tends to be a relatively easy job.
Step 2: Prepare the Workspace
What you need to do now is to get yourself a couple of good drop cloths so you can protect the bathtub as well as the drains. Pieces of hard and sharp falling tile can cause serious damage to the coating on your bathtub. If they fall on the floor, they may also cause damage to the floor.
You also don’t want tiles and pieces of old mortar falling into the drain as they can cause clogs. Make sure to use some painter’s tape to secure the tarp or cloth into place so that it cannot move and come loose. If you don’t have a real drop cloth, some bed sheets will do just fine as well.
Step 3: Remove Grout Around Old Tiles
What you will need for this task is a special grout removal tool that looks kind of like a trowel and a knife morphed into one. It has a handle like a trowel, as well as a curved stem, and then finishes off with a sharp-toothed blade. This is a tool that you will absolutely need for this task.
All you need to do is to push the sharp edge of the grout removal tool underneath the tile right at the corner of the tile that is being removed.
You don’t actually want to remove the tile at this point, but you do want to slide the grout removal tool along the tile right under the grout to remove any grout along the tile edge. You may need to do a couple of passes to remove all of it. Make sure to work with one tile at a time. Don’t go back and forth.
Step 4: Remove the Tiles
Before you start this process, it’s a good idea to wear some gloves and safety glasses just so that shards of tiles cannot damage your eyes and hands. Now that you have removed all of the grout that is holding the tiles in place, the next step is to remove the tiles themselves.
All you have to do here is to get a relatively flat chisel and a hammer. Take the chisel and place it against the edge of a tile right where it connects to the wall at a 30-degree angle. Use your hammer to pound the chisel underneath the tile.
You shouldn’t need too much force for this, although it does depend on the quality of the work. You might find that some tiles are really stuck on there, in which case you will have to use a good bit of muscle power. The tiles might break off into pieces, or they could come off as one whole tile. Either way, this is how you remove them.
Step 5: Prepare the Area
You will have to do some work on the areas where you just remove the tiles. Take any kind of metal scraper and remove any remaining adhesive that is on the walls. All you have to do is to hold the metal scraper at a 45-degree angle. Apply a bit of pressure and then scrape the piece of the way.
If there is still a lot of mortar on the wall, you may need to use your hammer and chisel in order to remove it. Once you have done this, you then want to use a stiff bristle brush to wipe away any debris or dust from the area. Start at the top and work your way down. You do not want any debris present when you go to put the new tiles on.
Step 6: Measure and Calculate
Of course, now you will need to measure the spaces where you will want to put new tiles, and you will need to buy the right size and types of tiles. Needless to say, you probably want the same tiles that you had there in the first place.
Step 7: Apply New Thin-Set Mortar
Next, in order to put new tiles onto the wall, you will first need to apply a layer of tile mortar. Get yourself a square notch trowel and then mix up some thin-set mortar. Use that square, not a trowel, to apply a relatively thin layer of mortar to the wall. Remember that you only want to apply between three and four square feet of mortar at once, or else it will dry before you can apply all of the tiles.
Also, make sure to drag the edge of your tool over the mortar so that it leaves small grooves. This will allow for some room to expand as you press the tile onto the mortar. With all of that being said, if you are just replacing one or two tiles then you can always apply the mortar to the back of the tile to prevent a mess from occurring.
Step 8: Attach the Tiles
Unless you did what we mentioned above, or in other words, unless you just replaced a single tile, what you will want to do now is to take your tiles and press them onto the still wet mortar. Make sure to apply a good bit of pressure so that they actually stick, and then make sure that they are level. You can use your best judgment to make sure that they are level, or you can use an actual level.
Now, if you are applying more than one tile, especially if you are applying multiple tiles beside each other, you will want to use tile spacers. Applying tile spacers as you apply the tiles will prevent them from moving together or apart, or in other words, it will allow for uniform spacing between them. Tiles are heavy and if you don’t use these spacers, they will slide out of place as the mortar dries. Remember that it takes up to 24 hours for the mortar to dry.
Step 9: Apply New Grout
Remove all of the spacers from in between the tiles once the mortar is dry. Get yourself some grout and then use a small mortar or spreader to apply grout in between all of the tiles. Technically speaking, you should be using a rubber grout float for this job, which is kind of like a squeegee designed for spreading mortar in between tiles. Make sure to follow all the instructions as indicated on your grout.
Take a bit of grout, place it on the spaces and then use your tool to spread it around, making sure that all of the spaces are filled. Allow the grout to dry for about 20 minutes and then use a slightly wet sponge to remove any remaining grout that has stuck to the surface of the tiles.
10. Reattach the Fixtures
Once the grout has dried completely, all you have to do is to reattach all of the fixtures that you removed in the first step.
3 Things to Do If You Don’t Have the Same Tile
While the above should be enough for you to get the job done, below are a few tips in case you cannot find the exact same type of tiles to replace your old ones:
- You can always just try looking for tiles that are extremely similar to the ones that you already have.
- You can go to second-hand building shops and see if there are any second-hand tiles that match the ones that you have.
- What you can also try doing is using a different color or type of tile and then making a cool pattern with the old ones and the new ones together.
Now that you know exactly how to replace all bathroom tiles, you can do it yourself and prevent yourself from spending tons of cash for professional assistance.