How to Repair a Scratched Porcelain Floor Tile

Two brown porcelain tiles with a grouted joint between them.
  • 3-4 hours
  • Beginner
  • $70-160
What You'll Need
Nylon scrub pad
Abrasive powder cleanser (like Ajax)
Shop rag
Tile glaze
Tile repair kit
Replacement tile
Putty knife
Grout float

Tile makes a polished, pristine surface regardless of whether it's ceramic, glass, or porcelain. Porcelain specifically is a beautiful addition to any home, especially on a floor. However, although this material is resilient, you can still scratch or mar it. Don't worry; you can repair light damage as long as you have the right advice on hand.

Step 1 - Clean Your Floor Tile

Scratches may look less noticeable without dirt and grime highlighting them. Additionally, sometimes scuffs can look like scratches, so sometimes giving your tile a good cleaning can reduce the look of damage. Before you try this option, however, run your finger across the marks in question. If you feel an indentation, skip this step; it could damage the tile further. Also, test an inconspicuous spot in a corner with your cleaner first. If the tile looks dull as a result, you should skip this step. The dullness means your glaze is too soft.

If you do clean your floor tile, use a white nylon scrub pad and a powdered cleanser. Apply a small amount to the scratch and gently rub it in. Wait a few minutes and rinse the cleanser away.

Step 2 - Apply Toothpaste

If the glaze is too soft for step one or the scratch is too deep, a remedy found in your medicine cabinet may do the trick. Plain toothpaste can help conceal scratches in porcelain floor tile. In order for this method to work, the toothpaste needs to be an actual paste, not a gel, and it should be white.

Clean the area first with a damp cloth. Then, rub a small amount of toothpaste over the scratch with a circular motion. Allow the substance to fill in the scratch, and then let it dry completely. You can sand down the toothpaste once it's dried to match the rest of the area. Follow up by wiping away any dust before you apply a urethane coat to protect and smooth the surface into a seamless repair.

Step 3 - Use the Repair Kit

You can repair some scratches easily with a repair kit designed specifically for this purpose. You can find them at most home improvement stores or online. They are available in different colors as well, so you can match them to most finishes. Most of the kits will include sandpaper to grind the repair portion down, a catalyst mix that is mixed and applied with a putty knife, and a glaze to cover the area once the repair is complete. Use this on your scratched tile in accordance with the directions and it should take care of the problem.

Step 4 - Replace the Floor Tile

You may encounter scratches that you can't cover easily. If this is the case, you can replace the tile entirely. Hopefully you purchased extra tile when it was originally installed so you have a replacement on hand. If you did not, and if your floor tile exhibits a common pattern or solid color, finding a new one may not be difficult. Since porcelain tiles are made in lots, you may notice slight color variations between the individual pieces.

If you need to replace a tile in a noticeable area (such as the center of a floor), you may want to remove one from a corner or another area where it won't be missed and use that tile to replace the scratched one. You may then place the new tile (with the slight color variation) in the inconspicuous area instead.

Start off by removing the grout around the damaged tile. This will allow you to get a putty knife under the edge so you can pry the tile away from the floor. When you finally lift it out of place, take your putty knife and scrape up any pieces of mastic left behind. This will leave a clear space for the new tile to be put in.

Spread some mastic on the back of the replacement tile and fit into place. Give it the appropriate about of time to dry, and then finish up by adding grout in the joints.