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