How to Repair Hairline Cracks in a Ceramic Floor Tile

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Ceramic tile makes a beautiful and durable flooring material, but it's not completely immune to damage. Your ceramic tile floor could eventually crack for a variety of reasons. If it's just a hairline crack, you might be able to repair the tile to prevent additional cracking and to disguise the crack.

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Causes of Ceramic Tile Cracks

Hairline cracks in tiles are a sign of a problem, either something underlying or an issue that happens after installation. Improper tile installation, typically related to the adhesive that holds the tiles in place, can result in cracks. Using the wrong type of adhesive allows the tiles to move, which can cause hairline cracks. Improper adhesive coverage on the back of tiles can leave gaps that weaken the tiles in those areas and can allow cracks to happen. Other potential causes of hairline cracks in tiles include:

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  • A heavy item being dropped on the tile and causing a major impact.
  • Too much weight, such as heavy furniture or appliances, on the tile.
  • Using wall tiles on the floor.
  • Cracks in the substrate.

Fixing Cracked Tiles

It's possible to fix hairline cracks in tiles depending on the cause of the issue. If you used the wrong type of tiles or the subfloor has issues, you can patch up the current cracks, but the tile is likely to develop additional cracks. In those cases, you might need to redo the floor and fix the underlying issues.

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If the cracks are due to a specific event, perhaps a hard impact, you can correct the damage successfully. Epoxying to patch the crack followed by painting to disguise it usually do the trick.

Clean the Cracked Tile

Before you start the repairs, clean the tile completely to ensure the epoxy repair and paint stick. Sweep the floor well to ensure there aren't any crumbs, dirt, or other debris on the damaged tile. Use warm water and dish soap to clean the tile around the crack. Rinse the floor well and let it dry completely before you start the hairline crack tile repair.

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Patch It With Epoxy

Now you're ready to apply clear epoxy to the crack. Some epoxy products require mixing or using a two-step process, so read the manufacturer's instructions for specific preparation steps. For a hairline crack, a toothpick works well to push the epoxy into the crack to fill it. Use a craft stick to smooth and level the epoxy once you fill the crack.

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Remove any leftover epoxy from the tile surface immediately, as it often starts to dry quickly. Let it dry for the amount of time specified by the epoxy product you choose. The crack is now sealed, but it still might be noticeable since the epoxy is clear.

Paint the Crack

Painting over your repair can help the crack blend in better. You'll want to use oil paint or urethane-based paint over the epoxy to help the paint hold up. Choose a paint color that matches your floor tile as closely as possible.

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Using a fine detailing paintbrush to apply the paint to the crack helps control the paint application. Allow the paint to dry fully before applying a urethane sealer over it to protect it. You might need to reapply the urethane every few years to protect the crack.

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