Removing Broken Ceramic Tile

Step by Step Instructions on how to Remove and Replace a Broken Ceramic Tile

By Mark J. Donovan

Ceramic tile is brittle, and can consequently break easily if something is dropped on them or if a hard object hits them. Thus it is wise when doing a ceramic tile installation project to save a few spare tiles, because someday you will inevitably need to remove a broken tile and replace it with a new one.

Tools Required

  • Safety Glasses – Always wear them while working with ceramic tile
  • Grout Saw or Dremel Tool
  • Scraper
  • Screwdriver / Chisel
  • Hammer
  • Masking Tape
  • Tile Nippers
  • Putty knife
  • Small bucket
  • Cardboard / Drop Cloth

Step 1 – Site Preparation

First begin by adding some layer of protection around the broken tile so that you do not damage the surrounding tile. For example use cardboard or a drop cloth to cover the surrounding tiles.

If the broken tile is around a fixture, such as a faucet, remove the faucet.

Step 2 – Remove old Grout

To remove a broken ceramic tile, first start by removing the grout from around it. Use a grout saw, dremel tool, scraper and/or screw driver, or all of the above. My preference is a dremel tool, such as Dremel MultiPro Cordless 7700-02 20,000 RPM Two-Speed 7.2V Rotary Tool System w/50 Accessories, as it can make short work of removing old grout. However depending on your time and budget any of the alternatives will also work.

When using these tools work on small areas slowly, and if you employ a hammer and screwdriver be very careful not to use too much force else you will break surrounding tiles.


Step 3 – Removing the Broken Ceramic Tile

Once the grout has been removed, apply masking tape in an X pattern across the surface of the tile. This will help to prevent the flying of broken ceramic tile chips.

Next using your hammer and screwdriver/chisel carefully tap and crack the ceramic tile over the X masking tape pattern.

Once you have cracked the ceramic tile, use your hammer and chisel to knock out and pry away the broken pieces.

Step 4 – Removing the Old Ceramic Tile Adhesive

With the old tile removed, now remove the old ceramic tile adhesive. Use a scraper or your screwdriver/chisel to remove the adhesive.

Step 5 – Install New Ceramic Tile

With the old tile and adhesive removed you can now install a replacement one. If the tile removed was a whole tile piece then simply apply some adhesive to the wall and to the back of the ceramic tile with a putty knife and push into place.

You may want to use some spacers to hold the tile in place for the appropriate grout lines.

Removing broken ceramic tile

If the removed ceramic tile was a partial tile, because for example it went around a faucet, then you may need to use some tile nippers to shape the new tile to the opening of the removed tile space.

Let the adhesive set up over night and then install grout around the tile the next day.

For information on installing a shower pan membrane liner for a ceramic tile shower, see the Shower Pan Membrane Liner Installation Ebook from  The Shower Pan Membrane Liner EBook will quickly teach you the step-by-step process for installing the shower pan membrane liner correctly. It includes instructions on framing the shower stall, pouring the pre-slope and shower base mortar, and installing the shower pan membrane liner.

See’s Ceramic Tile Calculator

See my “How to Tile a Custom Ceramic Tile Shower” Ebook to learn how to tile your own shower:  For a detailed set of instructions on tiling a shower floor and walls, including pictures for every step in the process, see my “How to Tile Custom Ceramic Tile Shower Ebook”.

Related Information

Additional Ceramic Tile Resources from


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