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Materials and Equipment Required
On occasion, a marble tile may become cracked due to an impact from a dropped object, or a furniture leg. That doesn't mean that you have to live with the imperfection or replace the entire floor, though. Instead, you can simply remove the tile and replace it with a new one.
You may be able to purchase a replacement tile from the original source. Unfortunately, marble is a natural material, and the colors tend to run in trends that change over time. That is why you should always save a few tiles from the original batch whenever you do an installation.
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Time to Complete
1-2 Hours in labor and then at least 24 Hours Drying Time for adhesive.
Continue to 2 of 11 below.
- Nail Set
- Carbide Tipped Grout Saw
- Putty Knife
- Rubber Mallet
- Piece of 2x4 Hardwood
- Needle Nose Pliers
- Tile Spacers
- Small Screwdriver
- Thinset Mortar
- ¼” Notched Trowel
- Natural Stone Sealer
- Matched Slate Tile
- Matched Grout
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Removing Tile Grout
Using a carbide tipped grout saw, or an electric Dremel with a grout grinding blade, carefully remove the grout from around the broken tile. As you work, be careful not to chip the edges of adjacent pieces. At the same time, you want to get as much grout out as possible so that it will be easier to remove the tile itself.Continue to 3 of 11 below.
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Crack The Marble Tile
In this step, you get to smash stuff. Just make sure that you wear safety goggles, as shards can fly and hurt your eyes if you are not properly protected. Safety gloves can also help to protect your hands from cuts that can occur.
Start by taking the tip of your nail press, and placing it against the center of the tile. Then take a hammer, and strike the back of the nail press sharply on its head. While you should use some force, you don’t want to get carried away and hit the marble too hard, causing it to collide with surrounding pieces. If necessary, strike the nail press a couple of times until a sizeable crack forms in the tile.Continue to 4 of 11 below.
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Chisel The Tiles Out
Place the edge of the chisel into one of the cracks that you made in the previous step. You can then take the hammer and tap the end of the chisel so that it buries its way into the grout and up under the tile. As you do this, make sure that you maintain a shallow angle with the chisel, as you do not want to accidentally drive it down and damage the subfloor beneath.
Once the chisel is under the tile sufficiently you should be able to lift it and peel the material up from the cement board underneath.Continue to 5 of 11 below.
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Scrape, Smooth, and Flatten the Subfloor
Lift, chisel, and scrape away as much tile and mortar as you can using those tools. Then take medium grade sandpaper, and sand down the remaining surface area, with an eye towards making it as smooth and flat as possible. Any rises or depressions in this surface will act like bubbles of weakness beneath the tile and may lead to further cracking down the line. If necessary, you may need to repair dents or damage in the subfloor using a leveling compound.Continue to 6 of 11 below.
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Seal the Replacement Marble Tile
Marble is a very porous material, and the replacement tile could get stained during installation if not properly prepared. That is why before you proceed, you should take a foam brush and apply a light coat of a marble surface sealing agent to its surface. That will create an invisible barrier over the tile so that adhesive and mortar will not damage or stain it.Continue to 7 of 11 below.
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Apply Mortar To The Marble
Mix a small amount of tile mortar according to the manufacturer's directions. Then apply it directly to the back of the replacement tile using a ¼” notched trowel. Make sure to trace furrows in the mortar with the notched edge, as this will help the tile adhere to the subfloor. As you place the tile in position, use tile spacers at each corner to ensure that the grout lines are consistent.Continue to 8 of 11 below.
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Level Out The Floor
Take a piece of 2x4 wood that is very straight and true. You can gauge the straightness of the wood by placing one end near your eye and the other near the floor, sighting down it. This will allow you to see if there are any bends, warps, or curves along its length.
Place the wood over the new tile so that it stretches across a few adjacent pieces. Then, use a rubber mallet to tap the wood down on top of the tiles to ensure that it sets even with the surface of the others.Continue to 9 of 11 below.
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Clean and Prepare
Use a wet cloth to remove excess moisture from the surface of the tile. A screwdriver can be used to remove any mortar that seeped up along the grout lines while placing the replacement piece.
You will then want to allow the adhesive to thoroughly dry over the course of the next 24 hours. Once it has you can take a pair of pliers, and carefully remove the tile spacers from the four corners of the pieces.Continue to 10 of 11 below.
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Grout The Replacement Marble Piece
Try to find a tile grout color that will match your existing grout lines. Then mix a little bit of it, and allow it to dry over the course of a couple of hours. This will show you what it will look like no your floor and will let you gauge how closely the colors match up. Before proceeding, you may want to apply sealer to the surrounding marble tiles so that they are not stained by the grout.
Once satisfied, mix another small batch of grout and apply it to the seams of the replacement tile with a grout float. Don’t apply too much, and do your best to direct it down into the grooves and off the surface of the marble pieces. Use a large damp sponge to wipe excess grout off of the tiles.Continue to 11 of 11 below.
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Seal The Floor (Optional)
At this point, you can apply a coat of sealer to the entire floor. This may not be necessary, but seal does have a subtle effect on this materials sheen and surface gloss. Applying a coat to the entire installation will help to create a sense of uniformity in the room. It is also recommended that additional coats of sealer be applied to the installation, periodically every 6-12 months.