Ceramic tile is relatively durable, making it a suitable choice for covering floors, countertops and walls. But ceramic tile can chip when struck by a blunt object. Small chips will be more visible if your tile is a glazed variety because the interior of the tile is a different color than that of the tile's surface. Patch minor, shallow chips in floors or countertops by painting the chipped area to match the glaze and sealing with a two-part epoxy resin. For more substantial chips, or when working on a vertical surface, remove and replace the damaged tile.
Repairing a Tile in Place
Purchase paint that matches the color of your tiles. Ideally, bring a spare tile to a paint store for matching. Alternatively, acquire a sample of your tile and bring that to the paint store.
Clean the chipped area with soap and water. Rinse with clear water and dry it thoroughly with a hair dryer.
Apply an oil-based primer and sealer to the chipped area with a small hobby-type paintbrush. Take caution to apply paint only to the chipped area and not the glazed surface. Use a small amount of paint so it does not pool in the chipped depression.
Allow the primer/sealer to dry according to the manufacturer's recommendation. Paint the chipped area with the paint you purchased to match the tile color, following the same procedures you did with the primer/sealer. If the dried paint does not match the color of the tile perfectly, apply another coat. Allow the paint to cure for 24 hours.
Place equal amounts of the two parts of the epoxy onto a piece of cardboard or scrap wood. Mix them together thoroughly with a toothpick or other small instrument.
Fill the chipped area with the mixed epoxy. Carefully apply small amounts with a toothpick until the top of the tile is level with the glazed surface of the tile. Allow the epoxy to cure according to the epoxy manufacturer's instructions. Avoid touching the surface for 24 hours.
Removing and Replacing a Tile
Scrape the grout from around the damaged tile with a carbide-tipped scoring tool. Take care not to damage the neighboring undamaged tiles. Protect the neighboring undamaged tiles with one to two layers of painter's tape placed along their edges.
Drill holes across the surface of the damaged tile with a ¼-inch ceramic bit. .
Hold a ¼-inch chisel at a 90-degree angle to the center of the tile and tap it with a hammer until you've penetrated the tile's glaze. Switch the chisel to a 45-degree angle and tap it again to penetrate the rest of the tile and, ultimately, remove it in pieces from the substrate. Work from the center of the tile toward the edges until you've removed the entire tile.
Remove the remaining thinset mortar that held the old tile in place, using a wider chisel.
Spread a layer of thinset mortar over the now exposed substrate with a ¼-inch notched trowel. Butter the back of the replacement tile using a putty knife.
Lay the tile into place and press it firmly until its surface is level with the surrounding tiles. Adjust it so that the space between it and the surrounding tiles is even on all sides. Allow the thinset to cure according to the manufacturer's instructions before grouting.
Mix a small amount of grout according to the grout manufacturer's instructions. Push the grout into the spaces between the tiles with a rubber grout float. Hold the float at a 45-degree angle as you move it across the tile.
Allow the grout to dry until it no longer feels tacky. Clean off the excess grout by running a damp sponge across the tile. Be careful not to remove the grout from between the tiles.
Avoid contact with the repaired tile for 24 hours while the grout dries. If a haze remains on the tile after 24 hours, wipe it again with a damp sponge.