When a fellow homeowner asked “How can we repair chipped tile in our kitchen?”, I knew there were plenty of people out there who were faced with the same problem I just tackled. In this post, I’ll explain how I went about fixing this common problem in my own house.
How to Repair Chipped Tile
We have white ceramic tile that runs from the front door right through to the back of the house. Over the years, if you have ceramic tile – and ‘oopsy-daisy syndrome’ – you’re going to drop a thing or two. Subsequently, the chips on your tile will gather dirt and look downright ugly.
We had already done some damage to the floor. But the last straw came after we had our kitchen renovated by a contractor. As careful as he tried to be, the floor looked like it was pocked by asteroids! We couldn’t afford to rip out and replace so much tile, so I had to do something to fix it!
My first instinct was to try to cover it over with a runner. But as you can see the damage is outside of the perimeter of where the runner covers the floor:
Materials to Repair Chipped Tile Floor
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Before you start, gather the following tools.
- Porcelain touch up glaze,
- 220-grit sandpaper,
- a metal or plastic straight razor blade,
- a roll of painters’ tape,
- wooden toothpicks and
- a few small lids for mixing.
Also have some rubbing alcohol or warm soapy water on hand to clean each chip; otherwise the touch up paint may not bond)!
When you purchase the porcelain touch up glaze, purchase it in a colour that’s the closest match to your tile. Also make sure that the bottle isn’t old stock and dried up. I only discovered that when I took it home the first time! Shake the bottle in the store to make sure it’s still in liquid form :).
The ‘lid’ pictured below is actually the pull tab from a carton of milk. I liked that the bottom is round. That’s because I ended up having to mix a custom colour to better match the greyish-white shade of my tile. A rounded bottom makes it easy for keeping everything in one spot with out it drying out too fast!
You’ll also need a tray of some sort. It will keep all the small things together in one spot so you can move it around from tile to tile. Pictured above is a funnel tray used for sorting, but the bottom or lid of an oblong take-out container would work too (like the one shown below holding the library card pull that I’m refurbishing for another project in my craft studio).
Lastly, as I eluded above, my tile isn’t a pure white so the touch up paint I bought was way too bright. With a little experimentation, and some grey wall paint we had left over from our reno, I was able to tone down the colour to get a pretty close match.
To start, clean the area and let it dry completely. Cut off pieces of the green tape and place it against the edges of the chip. Continuing until it surrounds the chip and isolates it from the rest of the floor. This accomplishes two things: it keeps any paint overflow from landing on tiles that don’t need it, and it protects the face of the tile when it comes time to level out and/or sand the repair.
If necessary, you can buy craft paints in small quantities from the dollar store to help ‘colourize’ the porcelain. You can add them into a drop of your porcelain ‘base colour’ to experiment with getting a better colour match for your tile (or use house paint like I did).
Chipped Tile Repair Tips
A few words of warning: you only need to mix very small amounts to fill most chips and since the porcelain dries very fast, you need to work quickly (which is why I didn’t get many picture of the process!). The porcelain is also very stinky so try to do this work when you can open a window for airflow. Each time you use a drop of porcelain glaze, make sure to put the applicator lid back into the bottle and close it tightly.
Shake the porcelain glaze well, then take the applicator brush from the bottle and dab a tiny amount of it into your mixing lid. Then take the toothpick and dab it into your paint (or paints) and add it to the lid. Stir it around with the toothpick and take note of what you’re using so you can duplicate the colour as you need it (it dries fast so you may have to mix several batches to repair all your chips, depending on their quantity and size). Once you’re happy you have a good match, you can start applying it to the chips.
Applying the Glaze
Use the toothpick to apply your mixture; it’ll likely be thick – especially as it dries – so dab enough of it into the chip so that you’ve OVERFILLED the area. It doesn’t matter at this point if it’s not perfectly smooth because you’ll be using the straight blade later to level it. Either clean the lid between applications or have a few new ones on hand to keep the mixture untainted by dry paint. Remix and fill any other chips as needed then let it dry for at least 24 hours to get a good bond. The tape will help you avoid walking over these areas as they dry!
Once dry, take the straight blade and hold it flush against the floor near the edge of your repair. Make sure the blade is centered on the repair so it reaches both edges if it’s a wide chip. Slide the blade along so it shaves off any overfill leaving a smooth surface. If you’re happy with the result, remove all the green tape. If for any reason there are still some voids in the repair, you can reapply again using the same steps.
The tile chip below is the biggest one I had to fill. That makes it more challenging because of its size and because it’s on the edge of the tile. I overfilled it and let it dry, but then had to come back and apply more filler again so I could sand the edge with the 220-grit sandpaper and blend it (or curve it) over the edge of the tile to meet the grout.
Here’s how it looks after the first application of filler and pass of the blade (I took the green tape off for the photograph, but you should leave it on until you’re completely finished).
As you can see in the closeup above, it’s a pretty good colour match. You’ll never get it perfect and you will see it when you look at it this closely, but in everyday use it won’t be that noticeable. From a distance, it blends pretty well. Once the green tape is pulled up, it’s almost impossible to find any of the smaller repairsl!
Once all the repairs are complete, avoid washing the floor for about two weeks just to ensure it’s well-bonded and dry. I never have a problem with less housework :).
Here’s a reminder of how it looked before:
And here’s the kitchen now. It takes some prep work and patience but the final results were well worth it to extend the life of my floor until we can afford to replace it.
More Flooring Solutions
Doing a basement floor? Don’t make the same mistake we did! Before you do anything, read loose lay vinyl plank flooring installation.
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Other kitchen projects we recently completed include these storage solutions: