Dealing with Common Floor Tile Problems

Description: Replacing floor tiles leads to problems matching grout colors, finding the right ceramic tiles, and more, but it is doable if you know all of your options.

Dealing with Common Floor Tile Problems

After I bought my first home, one of the first jobs I took on was to replace the floor tiles in the kitchen and in the bathrooms. As a result of these projects, I learned a few important tips that might help you as you start similar projects in your home.

Grout Coloring & Floor Tiles

Grout is basically a mixture of cement and other materials that fills in those cracks between tiles. It serves a valuable service even though it can be a real nightmare to keep clean. When I was changing the ceramic tiles in the kitchen, I wanted to make sure to choose a grout color that matched the color of my tile perfectly.

If you’ve ever done any work with grout samples, then you know what happened when everything started drying. The grout ended up drying to a much lighter color than I had wanted. When I called to complain, I was told this was common. In the future, I learned to always choose a grout color a few shades darker than what I wanted.

However, I was stuck with this lighter shade of grout which looked horrible with our new floor tiles so I bit the bullet and purchased some grout dye. I applied the dye using a toothbrush, and the results turned out great.

The lesson here: always buy darker grout than what you want or be ready to buy grout dye if the coloring isn’t perfect.

Floor Tile Removal & Replacement

In the bathroom, I encountered a different problem when I tried to fix the floor tiles. Only a few of the tiles were in bad shape so instead of redoing the entire floor I just wanted to correct those particular tiles.

Removing them was my first challenge. Obviously, I couldn’t just take a hammer to the tiles because that would end up damaging the surrounding tiles, too. Instead, I used a rotary tool (and proper safety equipment, of course) and cut around the grout very carefully so I could remove each single tile. For the most part, this method worked very well but it did require great concentration and a steady hand. I’d advise sending the rest of the family away for the day so you give it your full concentration.

The bigger problem I encountered was finding replacement floor tiles. The tiles I’d removed were actually fairly old and were not being sold anywhere. For awhile I thought I’d have to redo the entire floor anyway, then I learned I had two other options. First, I could try to have the tiles custom made. A number of online places do provide this service, but it can be costly, particularly if you need a custom glaze. Second, instead of replacing the tiles with identical tiles choose decorative tiles.

I ended up opting for the latter choice. I found a few great decorative tiles at my local home improvement store in a color similar to the existing ones on the bathroom floor. After I installed them, they looked as if they had always been part of the floor.

In the end, if you’re replacing floor tiles don’t forget you have plenty of ways to overcome the obstacles that might get in the way of your job.