Loose Tile In Shower
The ceramic tile in the bottom of
my shower has come loose. How can I repair it? The house is 23 years
old. I think I need to let it dry out and then re-grout it, but I am
unsure how to start this project.
a tile is loose but hasn't come off, I suspect you have small
tiles (less than 4" square) that are held together with a
fiberglass mesh. The purpose of this mesh is only to make the
initial tile installation easier by maintaining uniform gaps
between all the tiles.
If the tile is very slightly loose, that is if the movement is so
little it is barely visible, then you might try just re-grouting
it. You can buy a carbide grout saw (it looks like a
toothbrush gone REALLY bad!) and file away the old grout around
the loose tile.
But... if the tile moves more than 1/32", I would strongly
recommend prying it out and adhering it again to the backing
material. There are two common methods for bonding tiles: thin-set
mortar and adhesive mastic. I have purchased small containers of
mastic for replacing loose floor tiles. If there is cement below
the loose tile, then get some thin-set mortar (I think it's
available in small quantities) and apply it to the back of the
But first... the old adhesive or mortar should be scraped off as
much as possible, or it will hold the tile too high, and probably
interfere with proper bonding. Nothing will bond to dirt and
mildew. A cold chisel is the best tool for scraping mortar because
it is made from hardened steel.
You may need to clean the area. I would suggest a little bit of
bleach to kill the mold and mildew. The area also needs to be dry
for mastic, a hair dryer works fine to dry out the spot. Dampness
is okay for thinset mortar.
Wait a day for the adhesive or mortar to dry, and then apply new
You may take this time to remove other spots of loose grout and
refill them. I prefer to use a 4" diamond blade (about
$20-40) on a small angle grinder. This makes fast work out of
mortar and grout repairs. But... be careful, you can cut the tiles
with this tool, and WEAR EYE PROTECTION. This tool can throw
small rocks directly at your face, safety glasses are required.
You might do a careful inspection of the grout at the corners,
which always seems to crack first. Try probing with an old
screwdriver or cold chisel to see of the grout is loose.
But first I would give the shower a thorough cleaning, first using
bleach to remove mildew, then rinsing and using a chemical for
removing mineral deposits. One of the best values is the Zep brand
from Home Depot. But never mix these chemicals with bleach or you
will get toxic chlorine gas, very unhealthy when confined in a
shower enclosure. When you are done with the grout and loose
tiles, it will be like new.
Bruce W. Maki, Editor.