How to Know if You Should Repair or Replace Your Floor Tile

Laura Hennigan
Written by Laura Hennigan
Updated May 11, 2022
cream color tile in kitchen
Photo: Pixel-Shot / Adobe Stock

While you can probably repair a few chipped tiles in a jiffy, more damage may require a floor replacement

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Tile is a super popular material because of its durability, polished look, and easy cleaning. Tile floors are an especially great flooring type for kitchens and bathrooms because of the material’s ability to stand up to dinner party crowds and splashes from bubble baths. But as with every component in a home, floor tiles do have a life expectancy and will eventually begin to wear down.

While you can likely repair more minor issues with your tile floor, it may be worth considering a full tile floor replacement if they continue to worsen over time. If you’re wondering how to determine when it’s time to fix an entire tile floor, it’s worth considering a few key factors.

What Are Your Tile Floor Issues?

Most homeowners spend between $886 and $2,880 to install porcelain or ceramic tile flooring, so it’s definitely an investment you want to last as long as possible.

just like with any flooring, however, daily wear and tear can cause some damage. The most common tile floor issues include:

  • Chips

  • Cracks

  • Loose tiles

  • Grout problems

Depending on the severity of the cracks or chips in your tiles, you may be able to repair them on a Saturday afternoon. Deep imperfections and widespread issues may require a replacement.

Pros of Repairing Your Floor Tile

If you only have a few minor issues with your floor tiles, repairing them usually makes the most sense.

1. It’s a Less-Expensive Option

Repairs, even several tiles at a time, are still likely going to be a much less costly option than replacement. The prices for materials, plus some epoxy or grout, and maybe a new chisel, shouldn't cost more than $50, a significantly lower price than hiring a contractor to complete the work of a new tile floor installation.

2. It’s a Faster Fix

If you are moderately handy, tile fixes can often be a DIY task that only requires a couple of hours and a few tools. After cleaning the tile, you can quickly repair small cracks with primer and epoxy.

For a broken tile, you’ll need to chisel out the old pieces, set the new tile in, and fill it with grout.Either scenario will have plenty of free online tutorials to review, meaning you can likely skip the cost of bringing in a professional.

Cons of Repairing Your Floor Tile

While repairing is the cheaper, easier option, it’s not always the best choice for a tile issue.

1. You May Have Trouble Matching Materials

If you didn’t keep any spare tiles or don’t have enough, it may be a challenge to find substitutes that match up perfectly. If the store or manufacturer who originally carried your tiles is still in business, you may be able to track some tiles down. But if the business has closed, or if it has been too long, you may be stuck with having to find the closest possible match. 

2. It Could be a Temporary Solution

If the area is too damaged, performing repairs may only serve as a temporary fix. The tiles may be more easily susceptible to damage in the future, or some of the subflooring could be affected. While tile floors are incredibly durable, it’s important not to continue walking over any loose or deeply cracked pieces.

Pros of Replacing Your Floor Tile

While a tile floor installation is a large project, there are several benefits to opting for a full replacement.

1. It Can Give You a Design Refresh

If your home is older, your current tile floor may be starting to look dated. The avocado green that looked great in the ‘70s isn’t exactly the current trend, so a refresh might be in order. Particularly if you have several damaged tiles without readily available replacements, it’s likely a good time for a design update instead of repairs.

2. It Will Be a Long-Term Fix

Older tile floors that have already been through several rounds of repairs may have reached their shelf life. When the damage goes beyond cosmetic and turns into a structural issue (like water damage) or a safety issue (like tripping over loose tiles), it’s likely time for a full replacement.

Cons of Replacing Your Floor Tile

A whole new floor tile sounds great in theory, but it’s a big commitment to both your finances and your time.

1. It Comes at a Higher Price

For materials and labor, replacing tile flooring costs anywhere from $3 to $22 per square foot. Certain tile options, such as ones with intricate designs, can escalate the price quickly. Since it will generally only cost a few dollars to perform periodic repairs, that option is the more budget-friendly choice. 

2. It Can Be a Fairly Major Home Project

The process of ripping out old tiles and installing new ones is loud, messy, and can be time-consuming. Because care needs to be taken not to damage the subfloor underneath, it’s often a project hired out to a contractor. And while doing so ensures quality work, it also means a space that will likely be unusable for some time.

How Long Does it Take to Remove Floor Tile? 

Removing floor tile is no walk in the park. It can take 8 to 12 hours to remove tile flooring, depending on the room’s square footage and how it was installed. Not to mention that this task is physically demanding, and it will likely require more than one person to complete. Plus, you’ll need to account for the additional two to three days it will take to lay your new ceramic tiling.

That’s why many homeowners choose to hire a professional tile installer instead of taking on this difficult DIY project. Pros have the tools, knowledge, and experience to remove and lay tile as quickly and safely as possible, and they’ll make sure the job is done correctly.

Floor Tile: Repair or Replace?

 professional replacing floor tile
Photo: yunava1 / Adobe Stock

So, should you repair or replace your tile floor? If you love the look of your existing floor and only notice a few chips or cracks, a repair is a great option. It will save you time and money and hopefully allow for many more years of enjoyment.

If your floor is suffering from large cracks, frequently loose tiles, or potential subfloor water damage, it may be time to go ahead with a replacement. While a new floor installation is a large project, the good news is that it’s an investment made to last.

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