Tile Wall Is Crumbling

Problem: A section of tile on bathroom wall becomes loose and begins to fall out.

Background: Loose tile, especially in tub areas, should be taken care of as soon as possible. If loose tiles are neglected, water can get in behind them and cause the entire wall to disintegrate. When replacing sections of tile, be sure to examine the surface underneath. If damage is extensive because of moisture, it may need to be replaced with water-resistant gypsum backing board be fore re-tiling. Bathroom file that is in good shape can generally be reused if the existing adhesive is removed.

What to do: Remove loose or dam aged tile. If the grout used for ceramic tile is 1/8 inch wide or less, dig it out with an old-style can opener or a similar tool. With ceramic tile, use a center punch and hammer to punch a hole through the tile’s center, and use a glass cutter to score an “X.” Break out the tile in pieces, with hammer and cold chisel, starting from the center. (Try not to damage the wall surface underneath.) Clean out the opening. Plastic tiles can be loosened with a heat gun or hair dryer.
   Use waterproof adhesive and coat the back of the new tile to within half an inch of the edges on all sides, using a putty knife. Hold the tile by the edges and position it so it is in line with the surrounding tiles. For ceramic tile, wait 24 hours before applying any premixed grouting cement around the tile. Wet the tile edges and fill all the spaces around the file with grouting, pressing it into the joints with a sponge. After about an hour, re move the excess grouting, which will be dry and brittle. If the grouting is not smooth or has gaps, wet the tile edges again and repeat the process.

Special advice: If you need to re place ceramic tile around pipes, corners, and other difficult-to-fit areas, use the old file as a pattern. If you can’t, then use a cardboard template to mark the area to be cut out with a tile nipper. Another method is to use a glass cutter to score the outline of the part to be removed, then score crisscross lines over the part and use a pair of pliers to break off a small square at a time. File the edge smooth before positioning the tile to the wall.

Helpful hint: If you are replacing plastic tile, it will be less apt to break if it is warmed first. Toothpicks may be helpful in positioning the new tile. To remove any adhesive that may have gotten onto the tiles, use a small cloth dipped in paint thinner or any other solvent specified on the container. Use a wet sponge to re move any remaining grout.




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