How to Repair Damaged Natural Stone Tiles
Natural stone tiles are an attractive and durable tile choice that fit with many different interior styles in homes. While it can last for years and stand up well to wear and tear, stone tile can eventually show signs of chipping, scratching and discoloration. These are common repair needs, and most are relatively simple with the right tools and instructions.
Step 1 - Whether to Repair or Replace Stone Tile
Stone tiles can become loose over time from heavy foot traffic or from a heavy dropped object. In this case, it simply needs some new grout added underneath. Carefully pull up your loose tile with the chisel. While stone tiles are tough, it is important not to accidentally chip or otherwise damage surrounding tiles during this process.
Once you have removed the loose tile, inspect the grout to determine if it needs to be cleaned. Discolored grout is more prone to wear over time, resulting in loose tiles. Scrub away any grout dirt with the sponge and water; you may need to mix in some bleach to completely remove it. Then use your utility knife to cut away any remaining discolored grout; fill in these spaces and cracks with new grout and replace your stone tile. It should now fit snugly with the rest. Be sure to apply grout sealer and allow the area to cure for at least 24 hours.
Step 2 - Fix Stone Tile Chips and Scratches
Stone tiles are naturally porous and should be sealed with a good quality natural tile sealer when they are first installed. Periodic new coats of sealer will go a long way in preventing most tile chips and scratches, and smaller chips can sometimes be filled in simply with a new layer.
However, if your natural stone tile has chips that are large enough to be noticeable, you most often will need to replace one or more of the stone tiles. It is a good idea to have extra stone tiles from the initial installation stored away for this purpose. Many stone tiles have irregular edges, varying colors, and unique shapes, so finding a good fit for replacement may otherwise be challenging.
Step 3 - Fit Replacement Tile
When selecting a stone tile to replace a badly chipped one, you want to find a tile that is close to the same size. It usually will still work if it is a different shape that creates gaps around the edges; these can be filled in with grout. Remove the old tile as before with your chisel, and be sure to clean away any chipped mortar from the subfloor before applying a new layer. Mix just enough new mortar to cover the subfloor space, and apply an even coat with the spreader. Also spread some mortar on the underside of your replacement tile. Fit it securely into the new mortar and clean up any mortar that seeps from the edges right away.
Step 4 - Re-grout and Clean up
Allow 24 hours for your replacement stone tile to set, and then press a coat of new grout into its seams. Once the grout has dried about halfway, smooth it with the edge of your spreader and wipe off any grout residue from the tile surface, then apply final grout sealer.