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New York Times


What to Do About Chipped Tiles in the Bathroom?
By TIM McKEOUGH
Published: january 7, 2015
 
Q. Can I just replace the individual chipped tiles in the bathroom before selling, or do I need to replace the entire floor?

A.
When your bathroom floor has chipped or cracked tiles, it’s wise to take some kind of action before listing your home for sale.

"It’s very important to deal with it, because bathrooms are really a hot button for people," said Chris Leavitt, an associate broker at Douglas Elliman Real Estate who works in New York and Florida, and is a cast member on Bravo’s reality series "Million Dollar Listing Miami."

"To a buyer who’s looking quickly," he said, "a damaged tile says, ‘This place needs work. ' "

And to some buyers, it may signal something bigger than a simple cosmetic issue. "I had a situation recently where a deal wasn’t going to close unless the buyer got a credit for the whole kitchen tile floor, because there was a small hairline crack," Mr. Leavitt said.

The seller had dropped a bottle of champagne, he said, but the buyer "thought there was even more damage, and that the floor was buckling."

The good news is that it’s usually possible to replace individual tiles, said Vincent DiSalvo of DiSalvo Contracting in New York.

"It depends on the type of tile, size of the tile and how it’s set," he said. "The most difficult type of tile to chisel out is porcelain tile, because it’s extremely tough and durable, and very difficult to break apart. Marble, contrary to popular belief, is probably one of the easiest types to break out, because it chips very easily."

Generally, the larger the tile, the easier it will be to replace, he said, noting that small mosaic-style tiles tend to be the most challenging.

Another variable is the strength of the adhesive used to install the floor, which could be a rubber-based glue or cement-based thinset.

To try removing the tile, Mr. DiSalvo said, start by scoring the grout around it with a utility knife. Then use a chisel to chip the tile at one corner. Finally, take a small chisel or screwdriver and try to pry the tile out of place.

"It has to be done carefully and patiently," he said. "Otherwise you risk damaging the adjacent tiles, and the problem just continues to grow."

If you’re successful at removing the tile, make sure the subfloor is smooth (you can use the chisel to remove old thinset, Mr. DiSalvo said), then install a replacement tile with new adhesive.
 
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