How to Remove and Replace Damaged Bathroom Tub Surround Tile
By: Danny Lipford
To remove sliding glass tub shower doors:
- Remove Glass Doors: Lift each door up, pull the bottom out, and remove it from the track.
- Remove Door Track: Remove the screws holding the tracks to the walls. Pry off the tracks, being careful not to damage the tub or tile.
- Clean Tub and Walls: Use a putty knife or window scraper to remove any caulk or adhesive from the tub and walls.
To remove and replace damaged tile in a tub or shower surround:
- Remove Grout: Use a carbide tipped grout saw or rotary tool to remove the grout around the damaged tile.
- Remove Tile: Break and remove the tile using a hammer and cold chisel, being careful not to damage the wall behind the tile.
- Apply Adhesive to Tile: Use a notched trowel to apply acrylic tile setting mastic to the back of the replacement tile, and press the tile into the wall.
- Insert Tile in Wall: Tap the tile lightly with a rubber mallet until the tile is flush with the surrounding tiles.
- Apply Grout: After the tile adhesive has set, use a rubber float to apply grout to the joints. In order for the grout to match, you may need to remove the remaining grout in the surround.
- Clean Grout: Use a wet sponge to remove any excess grout and grout haze from the tile.
Watch this video to find out more.
- How to Remove a Wall Tile (video)
- Replacing Cracked Floor Tile (video)
- How to Repair Broken Ceramic Tile (video)
- How to Remove Tile Without Breaking (article)
Danny Lipford: Removing old shower doors is the easy part of a bathroom update. You simply lift the doors out of their tracks and remove the screws holding the tracks to the tile walls.
The hard part is cleaning up the mess that’s left behind. The gobs of sealant and adhesive left on the walls and edge of the tub can usually be scraped off with a putty knife or window scraper.
The holes left in the tile are a little more difficult to hide. The damaged tiles must be replaced so start by removing the grout around each of them.
For this job you can use a rotary tool with a grout removal bit or a manual, carbide tipped grout scraper. The manual tool will afford you more control and less chance of damaging the surrounding tile.
To remove the tile itself, you will need to break it by tapping it with a chisel so you can pry out all the pieces. Again, being careful not to damage surrounding tiles or the substrate below the tile.
The tiles you use to fill the voids should match in size and thickness. But if you can’t find a matching color, use a contrasting color to add a different design element to the surround.
Use a pre-mixed, acrylic tile setting mastic applied to the back of each tile with a notched trowel. The size and the spacing of the notches on the trowel will be determined by the size of the tiles.
Then place each tile into a void, being careful to remove excess mastic before it dries. A light tap with a rubber mallet will help seat the tile.
Since matching the color of the grout is also a challenge, it’s best to lightly scrape all of the remaining grout in the surround and replace it all with the same color, using a rubber grout float to force it into the crevices and wipe the surface clean with a wet sponge.
The result is an old shower surround, that looks brand new, at a fraction of the cost.