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Samantha Mazzotta: Ceramic tile floor marred by scratches

Posted: November 24, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: November 24, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Q: My kitchen has a ceramic tile floor, and several of the tiles have so many scratches that they look dull even after cleaning. Can I repair the scratches, or does the tile need to be replaced? — Carol in Eau Claire, Wis.

A: Glazed ceramic tiles are tough and resistant to most of the wear-and-tear that happens in high-traffic areas, but they can still become scratched or dull over time. If the scratches are minor — they mark the finish but don’t go all the way through the color glaze — it’s possible to polish them out.

First, clean and mop the floor so that you have a clear, debris-free surface to work on. Next, starting with the first scratched tile, apply a small amount of brass cleaner/polish to the scratch with a lint-free cloth, rubbing in circles. Let the polish dry, then buff away. If you don’t have brass cleaner, toothpaste or baking soda can be used.

To temporarily protect the tile surface, apply a bit of car wax — a plain paste wax, not cleaner wax, which has an abrasive in it — to the tile.

Tiles that have been scratched too deeply to buff out or that are cracked or broken should be replaced. Locate extra tiles, if you have them, or purchase matching replacement tile (you may need to take a piece of the damaged tile, once removed, to match the color).

Use a grout saw to carefully cut away the grout around the edges of the damaged tile. This creates a little wiggle room to loosen the tile without damaging surrounding tiles. Next, using a hammer and small chisel, gently tap the tile loose. (Place the chisel on or near the damage rather than at the edge of the tile where other tile might be damaged.) It’s OK if the damaged tile chips or cracks — save it to do your color match.

Once the tile is removed, brush or cut away debris or loose adhesive. Fit the new tile into the open space; if the tile fits correctly, apply a coat of tile adhesive to the back and fix it so that the spacing between the tile’s edges and the edges of the other tiles is even. Let the adhesive dry completely, and then fill the edges with grout that matches the color of the surrounding grout.


HOME TIP: Scraps of carpet and extra tiles are important to keep around for small repair jobs. Store them in one designated place, like a box or on a shelf in the garage, until needed.

Send your questions or tips to, or write This Is a Hammer, c/o King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.


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