How to Repair Tile Floors

Today's resilient floors are a real boon, but they can lose their attraction very quickly when they're damaged. Fortunately, even the worst-looking damage is easy to repair, whether the resilient flooring is tile or sheet vinyl. Modern resilient flooring products include vinyl composition tile (VCT), vinyl tile and sheet flooring, linoleum tile and sheet flooring, and cork tile and sheet flooring.

Tile repairs are very simple, because only the affected tiles must be repaired. If a tile is loose, it can be reglued with floor tile adhesive; if it's just loose at one edge or corner, there may be enough old adhesive left on the tile to reattach it. Cover the tile with aluminum foil, and then with a clean cloth. Heat the loose edges with an iron, set to medium heat, to soften the old adhesive and rebond it. When the adhesive has softened, weight the entire tile and let the adhesive cure for several hours or overnight.

If the old adhesive isn't strong enough to reattach the tile, use a floor tile adhesive made for that type of tile. Heat the tile as described above, and carefully lift the loose edges with a paint scraper or a putty knife. Scrape the old adhesive off the edges of the tile and apply a thin coat of new adhesive, using a notched spreader or trowel. Then smooth the tile firmly from center to edges and weight the entire tile. Let the adhesive cure as directed by the manufacturer before removing the weights.

If a tile is damaged, you can replace it. To remove the tile, carefully heat it with a propane torch with a flame-spreader nozzle, taking care not to damage the surrounding tiles. Pry the damaged tile up with a paint scraper or a putty knife. After removing the tile, scrape all the old adhesive off the floor to make a clean base for the new tile. Fill any gouges in the tile base with wood filler or floor-leveling compound, and let the filler dry completely.

Check the fit of the new tile in the prepared opening, even if you are using the same standard size as the old tile. If the new tile doesn't fit exactly, sand the edges or carefully slice off the excess with a sharp utility knife and a straightedge. When the tile fits perfectly, spread a thin coat of floor tile adhesive in the opening, using a notched trowel or spreader. Warm the new tile with a clothing iron to make it flexible, and then carefully set it into place in the opening, pressing it firmly onto the adhesive. Weight the entire tile firmly, and let the adhesive cure as directed by the manufacturer. Remove the weights when the adhesive is completely cured.