Got that home improvement itch? Wondering what in the
world you are going to do with your kitchen? Need to repair
or replace ceramic tile? Then here’s just enough
information for you to be dangerous with grout and a trowel.
You probably won’t go off and start your own remodeling
business, but you’ll definitely have a kitchen that
looks brand new.
Many times you might find that previous owners had not
bothered to remove the old tile when laying carpet or
linoleum. Easy enough for them, but might be a bit of
a headache for you. You’ll need to inspect the tile
once it is uncovered. Look for tiles with cracks and broken
pieces and take note of how much glue is left behind.
If a majority of the tiles are in poor repair, don’t
bother cleaning them as your best bet is an entirely new
floor. The same is true if you don’t like the color.
Barring those two situations, let the re-invention begin!
Carpet glue gets feisty when spread on ceramic tile. The
usual removal methods, chemical solvents and strippers,
will most likely damage the tile beneath and then you’ll
be replacing the entire floor anyway. What you need is
dry ice. Yes, the mysterious substance that can turn bananas
into hammers. Put on some big thick gloves and hold the
dry ice for one or two minutes on the glue itself. Afterwards,
gently scrape the glue from the surface of the tile. Another
removal method, though not nearly as exciting as dry ice,
is to use a heat gun to soften the glue, thus allowing
for more gentle scraping.
Now you have clean tile. But wait! Some of the pieces
are broken and cracked, just waiting to catch and store
bits of food, lint, and other really small things you
don’t want hanging around. For floor tiles, simply
find a matching or complementary tile and replace the
old tiles. Or, just replace them with random tiles/designs
and keep everyone guessing.
Wall tile repair has several options. If you are happy
with the design of the tile, simply cut replacement pieces
and attach them using epoxy. If you’ve grown a wild
hair and would rather your new kitchen to be featured
in a magazine than look the same as it always has, then
a couple of options are available to you.
Painting. Yes, you can paint tile. Whether you freehand
or use a stencil, you need glossy enamel paints engineered
for dishware. As we all know, practice makes perfect.
On a sheet of paper do a few dry runs of the design you
want. Once the tiles have been painted and scrutinized,
toss them in the oven per the instructions found on the
paint label. Let the new tiles cool, and then back to
square one: remove and replace.
Mosaics. Grab some graph paper, a grease pencil, and mesh
back pre-cut color tiles in whatever colors you like.
Sketch out the design you’d like and the placement
of colors. A common backsplash mosaic pattern is the “blocked
flower” but feel free to let your creativity run
wild. Mark each tile that will be replaced with the grease
pencil and get to breaking. Once the way is clear, grab
your graph paper guide and start to mosaic by numbers.
No matter what the original state of your tile may have
been, step back, take a deep breath and soak up your invigorated
kitchen. You deserve a pat on the back.
Nearly all the necessary tile replacement/repair equipment
can be found at hobby or craft stores. For dry ice, a
heat gun, and certain adhesives you’ll most likely
need to get to a home improvement store. All tile jobs
will require some form of adhesive, grout (which comes
in various colors), a sponge or something similar, a trowel,
and, of course, tiles. Most adhesives and grouts require
a 24 hour dry time, but be sure to read all the labels.