How to re­place a dam­aged or cracked wall tile, bit by lit­tle bit

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE -

cracked wall tile.

Start by care­fully loos­en­ing and re­mov­ing the grout around the tile’s edges. There are spe­cial tools for this, but an old screw­driver will do the job – just en­sure that what­ever you use is smaller than the width of the ex­ist­ing joint. It can be a frus­trat­ing task, but stay calm and pro­ceed slowly; you don’t want to end up scratch­ing the sur­round­ing tiles. The over­cau­tious can even use some mask­ing tape to cover the edges of the sur­round­ing tiles.

With a drill and a ce­ramic drill bit, drill a num­ber of holes into the tile. Once you have some pi­lot holes, switch to a ma­sonry bit to make the holes big­ger. The drilling will weaken the sur­face of the tile and make the hack­ing out eas­ier. The more holes, the eas­ier the next step be­comes, but en­sure you are not drilling into hid­den wa­ter pipes. And stay away from the edge of the tile – you don’t want the drill bit slip­ping off on to the next tile.

Use a light chisel and ham­mer to break out the re­main­ing tile be­tween the holes; don’t go too deep as you don’t want to have to fill a deep hole later. Work from the cen­tre out­wards.

Once the tile is out, scrape away as much ad­he­sive as pos­si­ble – check that you have enough depth by con­tin­u­ally in­sert­ing the new tile un­til the whole tile lies well be­low the sur­face of the sur­round­ing tiles, thus en­sur­ing you have enough depth for the new ad­he­sive. Check that any re­main­ing ad­he­sive is sound; you do not want to put a new tile over loose ad­he­sive.

But­ter the back of the new tile with tile ad­he­sive and in­sert the tile into the open­ing; use spac­ers to en­sure the tile does not slip down un­til the ad­he­sive is set. Use a straight edge to push the tile into the open­ing and en­sure that it is flush with the sur­round­ing tiles.

Once the ad­he­sive is firmly set, re­move the spac­ers and re­grout. I would sug­gest that you mix a few sam­ples of grout first and al­low it to dry to en­sure you have a match­ing colour.

Heidi writes: When my daugh­ter moved into a new house two years ago the wa­ter me­ter was read­ing zero. Two years later it is still read­ing zero. She has re­ported it three times and has the ref­er­ence num­bers, but no­body has come to re­pair it. She is wor­ried that one day she will get a mas­sive bill. What should she do?

I think she should make a nui­sance of her­self at the coun­cil and, in the mean­time, try to put a lit­tle money aside ev­ery month.

Karin has this prob­lem: We have had some work done to the en­trance of our house, in­clud­ing a stair­case of balau wood. The per­son who did the stair­case is a sub­con­trac­tor to the per­son who did the whole job, in­clud­ing the brick walls.

Af­ter about a week the wood cracked and the glue to hold ev­ery­thing to­gether came apart. The wooden door un­der the steps would not close. The guy who did the wood came by and agreed that three steps needed re­plac­ing and ev­ery­thing had to be glued to­gether again. Also, the door needed sand­ing and var­nish.

He was back two weeks ago, filled the cracks with wood glue, glued ev­ery­thing else to­gether again and promised to re­turn.

When I spoke to the con­trac­tor, I was told that the wood does crack – ap­par­ently that is nor­mal. This was end of July and this prob­lem has been go­ing back­wards and for­wards from then on.

Is it true that balau does crack? And is it still OK as steps?

What wor­ries me about this sce­nario is the glue. Balau is a tim­ber used for deck­ing and usu­ally comes in pre-cut planks up to about 102mm wide. Other sizes can be ma­chined but this is not usual. If the planks have been glued to­gether to form the stair treads, I would rather have seen them just butt jointed.

It then sounds like the treads have been glued down on to more tim­ber, again not good prac­tice. I would be a lit­tle con­cerned that an ex­te­rior stair­case is held to­gether with glue. It should cer­tainly be screwed to­gether.

Balau tim­ber does crack and it is not be­ing used as much as it used to be, but is still a very hard and solid tim­ber, need­ing lit­tle main­te­nance. If pos­si­ble please let me have a pho­to­graph to look at. In the mean­time, tread care­fully.

Please keep your ques­tions or com­ments com­ing to don@ma­cal­is­ter.co.za or SMS only to 082 446 3859.

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