How To Repair Hairline Crack in Shower Tile


Picture this. Its just like any other morning. You get in the shower, and you look down to see a crack in your tile. Who knows how long its been there, but now you cant get it out of your head.

Today, well talk about two different ways to repair a hairline crack in shower tile yourself so you can go back to enjoying your bathroom.

Option 1: Cosmetically repair hairline crack in shower tile

Example before repairing a hairline crack in shower tile.

One thing to be aware of is that a hairline crack in shower tile is mainly a cosmetic issue. Showers are built today with waterproof membranes behind the tiles, and the grout between tiles isnt necessarily 100% waterproof anyway. However, that doesnt make a hairline crack any less annoying.

Your first option is to repair the crack without replacing the tile. If its just a hairline crack, this is usually possible. You can use a few different techniques to both waterproof the crack and make it disappear visually.

For each of these ideas, start with a completely dry tile. Use a hairdryer on the cracked area for 10 to 15 minutes to ensure the inside of the crack is fully dry as well. After that, you can try one of these techniques:

Epoxy

Use two-part clear epoxy to fill the crack. Mix equal amounts from each chamber on a disposable lid or piece of cardboard. Use a very thin paintbrush to dab the mixture into the crack. Start with small amounts and use just enough to fill the crack. Keep the area dry and free of foot traffic for 24 hours.

Waterproof paint

If you have a steady hand, you can try painting the crack with a waterproof paint or some nail polish. Be sure to match the paint to the shade of your tile, and use the smallest brush that you can find. Wipe away any excess before the paint dries.

Combination

For cracks that are a bit more noticeable, youll want to apply multiple techniques. Start by filling the crack with epoxy up to the surface level and let it dry. Then, paint over the crack with waterproof paint and let that dry. Finally, coat it in clear urethane to strengthen the repair and make it last longer.

If you have any suspicion that water is seeping behind your tile, or if you have multiple tiles with cracks, you should consider replacing entire tiles instead of touching up the cracks that you see.

Whenever you remodel, you should buy a few extra tiles for times like this. Who knows when the style will stop being manufactured?

Option 2: Replace the tile entirely

Homeowner using a grout remover to repair hairline crack in shower tile.

Your other option is to prepare the hairline crack in your shower tile by completely replacing that particular tile. Of course, this only works if you have access to replacement tiles. Replacing a bathroom tile is actually not that hard to do, you just need the right equipment and a free weekend to get the job done. Heres what you need for this job:

  • Replacement tile
  • Premixed tile adhesive
  • Hammer
  • Sheet to catch dust
  • Safety goggles
  • Gloves
  • Chisel
  • Grout remover
  • Notched trowel
  • Grout float
  • Tile spacers
  • Grout
  • Sponge

You can get a number of these items in a tile regrouting kit, as well. Once you have your supplies, follow these steps to replace the tile:

Make preparations

Lay out a sheet to catch dust below the tile if its on the wall, put on safety glasses, and put on gloves. Ceramic shards can be very sharp, so be careful.

Remove the damaged tile

Remove the grout around the tile first. You can use a manual or powered grout remover to do this. Then, cover the cracked tile with a rag and carefully break the tile with the hammer from its center. Be careful not to hit any adjacent tiles. Once it has a few more cracks, remove the pieces with your gloves and chisel.

Clean up the area

Scrape out as much of the old adhesive as you can and brush out any debris.

Apply adhesive

Using a notched trowel, apply adhesive to the wall or floor under the old tile. Cover the whole area and clean up edges with a sponge.

Add spacers

Once the adhesive is down, add tile spacers to the edges of the area. Use at least two per side when replacing a floor tile. If youre replacing a wall tile, you could get away with just using spacers on the lowest edge since gravity will hold the tile in place.

Install the tile

Line up your tile and press it in firmly. Make sure the surface level is even with the other tiles. Let the adhesive set for about 30 minutes, then remove the spacers. Follow the manufacturers recommendations to let the adhesive fully set after that. Many tile adhesives need 24 hours to dry.

Install grout around the tile

The next day, mix the grout according to the products instructions. Use the grout float to press the grout into each space around the tile, and make sure the grout is even. If your shower has colored grout, try to get the same brand and shade. Clean up any excess grout with a wet sponge. Grout also usually needs 24 hours to dry.

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