If you’ve ever sweated your way through tiling a wall only to step back and realise your grout lines follow the curvature of the Earth, you know exactly how difficult tiling can be. And that struggle extends tile repairs, as well. What happens if you didn’t manage to save a few tiles that are now discontinued, and now you have a cracked tile to deal with? You do have some options if you can’t simply replace the damaged piece.
The easiest thing to do if you have no backup tiles is to simply cover the damage. Tile decals (aka tile stickers) are exactly what they sound like: Decorative decals that stick directly on top of existing tile. While these probably won’t work too well in areas that get regular direct water contact (say, on shower walls or floors), they can easily cover up cracks and holes in areas that are merely damp, and using a bunch will make your tile coverup look like an intentional design.
Tile filler or grout
If the damage to your tile is fairly deep and/or wide, you might be able to fill it in with a clear epoxy and then paint over it (see below). This will create a hard, durable repair, although the invisibility of your work will depend entirely on your ability to match the paint to the tile (and your painting skills).
Alternatively, grout can make a terrific repair medium for damaged tile in a pinch. This will work especially well if your tile has some veining or pattern to it, because the grout may not match the colour and sheen of your tile exactly. But it will fill moderately deep damage effectively, and you can probably find a coloured grout that matches pretty closely.
Yes, you can paint tile. While this is typically done to freshen up the look of older tile without removing and replacing it, if you have minor damage to your tile, you can cover it up with some colour-matched paint. This will be especially effective for thin cracks or tiny holes; the more dramatic the damage, the more obvious a painted-over repair will be. The trick here is the colour-matching, obviously — get it even slightly wrong and your repair will stand out unless you decide to just paint all of your tile.
Create a design
Finally, if you don’t think any of these cosmetic approaches will do the trick and you have to remove and replace the tile, you have one final option. You could remove more than just the broken tile and create a new pattern with similarly-sized tiles of different colours, or with tiles that have a design to them. You don’t need to go overboard, here; replacing a few tiles in a thoughtful pattern will do the trick of both replacing the damage and making the non-matching tile look purposeful.
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