How To Replace Bathroom Tiles That Have Fallen Off

If you’ve noticed your bathroom tiles haven fallen off or are loose then it is important to replace them immediately. Don’t wait to do this as the gaps in the tiles become access points for water and bacteria which will damage the adhesive and grout of the other tiles. Don’t worry, replacing a few tiles is a small DIY job that won’t take long.

When you replace bathroom tiles that have fallen off it is important to thoroughly clean the area, use a waterproof adhesive and wait the 24 hour drying time. Issues with tiles are usually caused by improper installation so don’t skip any steps and use high quality products. 

What Causes Tiles To Fall Off

There are a number of different reasons tiles may fall from the wall. As you can see below, most of these causes relate to the installation of the tiles. When installing tiles, make sure you follow each step properly to avoid issues in the future. 

Water Getting Behind the Tiles

One of the most common reasons for a tile to fall off is that water has managed to get behind the tile. This causes mold and deteriorates the adhesive. As the adhesive deteriorates the tile will fall from the wall. Water tends to get behind the tiles due to improper installation. 

Hot Water

Another common cause is exposure to hot water. Hot water can deteriorate the grout and eventually the adhesive that is holding the tile in place. Of course, people are not going to stop using hot water in bathrooms so it’s necessary to keep an eye on the seals around the tiles so you can address any problems quickly. As long as the tiles were properly installed there should not be issues from hot water exposure.

Misaligned Tiles

The tiles need to be properly aligned during the installation. If part of the tile is raised or not sitting as it should, the additional space gives a place for dirt and water to work its way in. Check the wall is level before applying tiles. 

Dust/Debris Behind Tiles

Anything from bits of chalkdust to specs of dirt can interfere with the adhesive and cause issues with the tile later on down the line. A clean surface and a clean time is essential when tiling. 

Adhesive Not Water-Resistant

The adhesive needs to be water-resistant otherwise it will deteriorate quickly and the tiles will begin to fall. Check the adhesive that you want to use before applying it. Not all adhesives are the same and a water-soluble adhesive is not suitable for use in the bathroom. 

The Adhesive Didn’t Have 24 Hours To Dry 

Even the very best adhesive won’t be able to do its job properly if it hasn’t had enough time to dry. It is essential the adhesive has time to fully dry before exposure to water. The drying time is usually 24 hours. A bit of patience goes a long way so don’t rush to use the water when the tiles are newly fitted. 

Poor Grouting

If the grouting is not complete then it gives water a chance to get in. The grout needs to be complete and it needs 24 hours to dry. If the water gets into the grout then it will go behind the tiles then it will cause them to fall away.

How to Fix a Tile That Fell Off

When a tile falls off the wall, it is an easy fix. You simply need to take the tile off, clean the area and replace it using new grout. This process doesn’t take long but be sure to follow each step closely to prevent future issues. The most important thing is to be patient and wait the 24 hour curing time to ensure the tile won’t fall again. 

Replacing Bathroom Tiles or Shower Tiles That Fell Off in 5 Easy Steps 

A tile that has fallen off needs replacing immediately. Don’t wait to replace the tile as water can get into the gap and cause problems with the other tiles. Replacing tiles is quick and easy. 

Step 1: Clean the Empty Space

Firstly, you will need to clean the spot where the tile fell from. Remove any parts of the tile that are still there. Underneath the tile will be adhesive grout so remove this with a plastic putty knife. Removing the adhesive will make it easier to put the tile in place. Give the area a clean with water to ensure it is completely clean. Wait for the space to be completely dry before moving on to the next step. 

Step 2: Apply the New Adhesive 

Secondly, the empty space needs new adhesive to hold the tile in place. Make a small amount of adhesive suitable for the tiles and apply it in the clean space where you will position the tile. The adhesive needs to be waterproof and should completely cover the space.

Note: Don’t use water-soluble adhesive as this will not be able to stand up to water and the tiles will eventually fall away. Choose an adhesive that is waterproof and suitable for use in the bathroom.

Step 3: Position the Tile

Now you need to take the tile and push it onto the adhesive. Hold it in position so it can attach firmly and then level the tile so it matches the surrounding tiles. Once you have put the tile in a way that you are happy with, give it a gentle wipe to remove the adhesive that is showing over the tile. 

Note: If you are installing multiple tiles you can use spacers between them to keep the spacing between them uniform.

Step 4: Leave it for 24 Hours

The adhesive now needs time to set. Don’t let the tile get wet during this 24 hour waiting period. This time allows the adhesive to set and bond with both the wall and the tile. This step is essential so don’t skip it. 

Step 5: Apply Grout 

Finally, you need to apply waterproof grout around the sides. This grout is for the empty areas between the tiles. Remove the excess to produce a smooth, neat finish. Ideally, you should wait 24 hours after applying the grout. After this time, the tile is secure and can get wet without a problem.

How to Fix Bathroom Tile That Is Loose

A loose tile probably has water underneath it that is deteriorating the adhesive. To fix a loose tile you need to remove the tile, clean the existing adhesive away and put the tile back into position with new adhesive. You can replace a loose bathroom tile easily, for best results make sure you clean the area and use high quality adhesive. 

Repairing Loose Shower Tiles 

Step 1: Remove the Grout

Firstly, you need to remove some of the grout from around the tile that is loose. This is going to help you remove and reattach it effectively. You can use a plastic putty knife for this. Remove the grout carefully to avoid causing any damage to the tile or surrounding tiles. 

Step 2: Remove the Tile

This might feel like a step backwards but it’s not. In order to fix a loose tile you need to gently remove it and clear the adhesive behind it so you can put it back with a strong adhesive bond. If you don’t do this, the tile will keep becoming loose as the existing adhesive will continue to have problems. When you remove the tile there may be small broken bits of tile attached to the wall, clean all of this out, even if the pieces are tiny. 

Step 3: Clean the Wall and Tile

Use the putty knife to remove the adhesive that is on the wall where the tile was. Be sure to remove any adhesive that is on the tile too. Give the tile a wipe clean and wipe the wall clean too. Depending on the tile’s condition, you may want to install a new one but this is up to you. Providing the old tile is not broken or damaged you can use it again.

Step 4: Apply New Adhesive

Next, apply the new waterproof adhesive to the tile. Once applied, push the tile into position. It’s important that the adhesive covers the empty area completely. Level the tile so it matches the other tiles on the wall and then leave it for 24 hours. This 24 hours gives the adhesive time to dry. 

Step 5: Apply Grout

Finally, you can apply waterproof grout to the sides of the tile. The grout needs to reach all the edges and cover the area fully to be effective. Once applied, remove the excess to complete the look and give a clean finish. You can wipe the front of the tile to remove any marks or grout. The grout now needs 24 hours to fully cure. After the drying time, the tile is secure and can now get wet without risk of damage. 

How to Keep Tiles From Sliding Down 

The last thing you want is for the tiles to move from where you positioned them over the course of the drying time. This causes a lot of problems and means you will be spending a lot of time re-doing the tiles. Use these tips to stop this from happening.  

Non-Slip Adhesive 

One of the most important decisions is what adhesive you use to attach the tile to the wall. The best option for stopping slipping is a thinset mortar. Thinset is used to install tiles and is a combination of cement, fine sand and a water retaining agent. Base the thinset you choose on the tile material and the wall type/material the tile is being attached to. 

Use A Notched Trowel 

Spreading the adhesive with a notched trowel will help to create suction that will hold the tile in place as it dries. This can help stop the tile from sliding during the drying period. A deeper notched trowel is a good choice for larger tiles so choose the trowel size based on the tile size.

Use A Level Wooden Baton 

The final thing you can do is secure a level wooden baton at the bottom of the wall. This will support the tiles as they dry and will prevent any movement or slipping. This is something you may want to do if there is open space underneath where the tiles will go. Check the wooden support is absolutely level before you begin tiling. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Can you replace a single bathroom tile?

Yes, you can replace a single damaged, loose, or fallen tile without disturbing the surrounding tiles. However, it is worth checking the condition of the surrounding tiles to ensure water has not managed to get underneath them through the gap in the tiling. 

What can I replace my bathroom tiles with?

Bathroom tiles can be replaced easily with a new tile, adhesive and grout. If you want to redesign your bathroom and get rid of the tiles altogether there are many alternatives options including Acrylic/PVC panels, marble, stone resin, paint etc. 

Can water get behind tiles?

Yes, water damage is a common cause of loose and fallen tiles. The water can get behind tiles via damaged/worn grout or missing tiles. Once water gets behind tiles it causes mold and deterioration of the adhesive. 

Why did my tile not stick?

Improper adhesive, using too much adhesive, or the wall may not be level can all cause issues with the grip of tiles. 

Final Thoughts

Replacing a missing or broken bathroom tile is a small DIY job that anyone can complete. The problem should be addressed immediately to prevent damage to the remaining tiles.  It is quick and easy to replace tiles as long as you follow the installation instructions. If you skip steps or cut corners there will be issues with the tiles so take your time and give the adhesive and grout enough time to dry.

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