When I first purchased my house, the most noticeable (and ugly feature) was the quasi-white ceramic tile that runs from the front door right through the hall to the back of the house - as seen in the first two pictures. Over the years, if you have ceramic tile (especially in the kitchen) – and ‘oopsy-daisy syndrome’ – you’re going to drop a thing or two and subsequently chip your tile where it will gather dirt and look even uglier.
Over the years we accumulated a few minor chips but the real damage came after we had our main floor renovated. As careful as the contractors tried to be, when the reno was all said and done, we came home to a kitchen floor that looked like it had been pocked by tiny asteroids!
We couldn’t afford to rip out and replace so much tile, so I had to do something to fix it! My first instinct was to simply cover the floor with a runner, but almost all the damage was outside of the edges (murphy's law).
The last picture shows the after of our kitchen. Follow the process detailed in this I'ble and your floor should look just as good.
Step 1: You Will Need
Before you start, gather the following tools:
- porcelain touch up glaze
- 220-grit sandpaper
- a metal or plastic straight razor blade (be sure there’s a protective cover on one end if the handle gets in the way and you have to take it off)
- a roll of painters’ tape
- some wooden toothpicks
- a few small lids for mixing
- craft paint or wall paint if necessary to colour match to your tile; and
- have some rubbing alcohol or warm soapy water on hand to clean each chip if you'd rather skip washing the entire floor; otherwise the touch up paint may not bond)!
When you look for the porcelain touch up glaze, purchase a colour that’s the closest match to your tile. Also make sure that the bottle isn’t old stock and dried up, as I only discovered when I took it home the first time! Shake the bottle in the store to make sure it’s still in liquid form.
You’ll also need a tray of some sort to keep all these small items together in one spot so you can move it around from tile to tile as you fill each chip. The yellow tray pictured above is a funnel tray used for sorting things like screws, but a shallow plastic take-out container lid would work too.
My tile was 'off-white' so the white touch up paint was too bright. With a little experimentation and grey wall paint we had left over from our reno, I was able to tone down the colour to get a pretty close match. The little white ‘lid’ pictured in the yellow tray is actually the pull tab from a carton of milk and is what I used to do the mixing for my custom colour. I liked the shape because a rounded bottom helps keeps everything central in one spot (instead of spreading) which prevents the mixture from drying out too fast.
Instead of house paint, like I used, you could try craft paint from the dollar store to ‘colourize’ the porcelain glaze.
Step 2: Prep Work
To start, clean the floor well paying close attention to the chipped areas and let it dry completely. Cut off pieces of the green tape and stick them against the edges of the chip continuing around all until the entire perimeter is surrounded by tape. This accomplishes two things: it isolates the chip from the rest of the tile to keeps any paint overflow from landing on the face of the tile, and it protects the tile when it comes time to level off with the blade and/or sand smooth the repair.
The two pictures above show how it looks with the green tape in place.
Step 3: A Few Tips
- You only need to mix very small amounts to fill most chips and since the porcelain dries fast, you need to work quickly (which is why I didn’t get too many step-by-step pictures during the process!).
- The porcelain is also very stinky so try to do this work when you can open a window for ventilation.
- Clean your lids well between use or keep a few pull tabs on-hand throughout the process (I got mine from milk cartons) so you can swap them out and use a fresh one when the porcelain paint dries out. That way you can avoid debris from getting in your fresh mixture.
Step 4: Work Fast
Shake the porcelain glaze well before each use. Remove the applicator brush from the bottle and dab a small amount of it into your mixing lid. Each time you use the porcelain glaze, be sure to put the applicator lid back into the bottle and close it tightly to keep the bottle from drying out while you work.
If you are adjusting the colour, add tiny quantities of craft or house paint into your porcelain ‘base colour’ with the toothpick. You can always add more but you can't take it away. Mix it well to blend. Test it on a piece of cardboard and compare it to the colour of your floor; experiment until you get the best colour match for your tile.
Take note of the proportions you’re using so you can duplicate the colour again as you need it (it dries fast so you may have to mix several batches to repair all your chips, depending on their quantity and size). Once you’re satisfied you have a good match, use it right away and proceed with filling the chips.
I used a toothpick to apply the mixture to each taped off chip, but you can substitute a brush if you prefer. Aim to slightly overfill each one. It doesn’t matter at this point if it’s not perfectly level because you’ll be using the straight blade or sandpaper later to level it. Clean the lid you're using to mix in between applications or have a few new ones on hand to keep the mixture untainted by dry paint. Remix and fill any other chips as needed then let it dry for at least 24 hours to get a good bond. The tape will help you avoid walking over these areas as they dry - but if you filled a lot of chips, you may just feel like you're playing twister!
Once dry, take the straight blade and hold it flush against the floor near the on end of your repair. Make sure the blade spans evenly across both edges of the repair. Slide the blade along so it shaves off the overfill leaving a smooth surface. You can also use fine sandpaper to smooth the repair; use either method that you find works best for you. If you’re happy with the result, remove the green tape. If for any reason there are still some voids in the repair, you can reapply again using the same steps.
Step 5: Before and After
The chipped tile pictured above was the biggest one I had to fill. This chip was more challenging because of its size and because it was on the edge of the tile. I overfilled it and let it dry, but then had to come back and apply more filler again so I could sand the edge with the 220-grit sandpaper and blend it (or curve it) over the edge of the tile to meet the grout.
The second picture shows how it looked after the first application of filler and pass of the blade (I took the green tape off for the photograph, but you should leave the tape on until you’re completely finished).
As you can see the colour comes pretty close. You’ll never get it perfect and you will see it when you look at it this closely, but in everyday use it won’t be that noticeable.
From a distance, the repair blends in well. Once the green tape is pulled up, you shouldn't really see any of the smaller repairs at all and even the large one will look great from the height at which you'll view it every day!
Once all the repairs were complete, I avoided washing the floor for about two weeks just to ensure it was well-bonded and dry (you can still sweep and vacuum). The porcelain glaze is typically used for bathtub applications so it will be durable in the long run and stand up to washing.
Step 6: What If Your Floor Is Still Ugly After Fixing Those Chips!
Black flecks in tile are detracting so filling the chips certainly improved the finished look of the kitchen. It takes some prep work and patience but the results are well worth the effort to extend the life of the floor.
But you don't have to stop there. As you can see in the first picture, we weren't just dealing with plain white tile; we had a throwback from the 80's with pink and blue streaks running through it! The trick is to add some soft furnishings, such as the drapes shown in the second picture. The blue and pink tones in the floor were repeated in the drapes to make the tile look like it was a decorating choice, instead of a bad inheritance. Adding that touch of colour elsewhere in the room ties it all together.
As you'll see in the final reveal below, a floor runner was added and the space was furnished. Between the chipped tile fix, change in colour scheme, and soft furnishing updates with the window covering and area rug, we no longer feel the need to rip out the floor any time soon.
Step 7: Pin, Share and Please Vote!
If you have a lot of tile in your home that you're not overly thrilled with, I hope this I'ble will inspire you to work with what you have too! Please pin and share! And don't forget to vote :)
If you're interested in more DIYs around the home and garden, check out (and subscribe to) my website Birdz of a Feather.
Runner Up in the
Fix It Contest
Participated in the
Participated in the
Home Improvement Contest 2017