What is tile mortar repair

Mending tile joints: tips for sealing and repairing

Actually, you just want to thoroughly wipe the hallway again when you notice that a piece of the joint is missing between two tiles. In addition, other joints show cracks. What may initially seem annoying to you only from an aesthetic point of view can become a serious problem that you should address. UPDATED explains why damaged joints are a risk and how you can fix them up yourself.

Damaged tile joints are therefore a risk

Joints make the tile covering hygienic and seal it off. If the tiles are laid without joints, there would be small slits between the tiles, into which any liquids could seep. This is exactly the problem when the tile joints are damaged. Above all, moisture penetrates through cracks and holes in tiles into the substrate of the floor or into the wall. Tiled walls in the bathroom are particularly at risk due to the high humidity. Kitchen tiles that are exposed to steam during cooking or hallway tiles that have to withstand wet shoes should also be intact. Because in the long run it can severe moisture damage and thus mold formation between the tiles come The tiles may even burst.

Mending tile joints: the instructions

You do not necessarily need a specialist to repair tile joints. This is not a big problem with the following instructions.

Before you start touching up

A toothbrush will help clean the grout.

To repair tile joints, you will need a few items from the hardware store, if you do not already have the utensils at home. Here's what you need:

  • Grout in the optically matching tile color
  • A bucket to mix the grout
  • A sponge or sponge board
  • A joint scraper
  • A joint spatula or tile wiper

Before starting the actual repair of the joints, you should pay attention to the following points:

  1. First clean the tiles and the joints thoroughly. Because the repair compound does not adhere optimally to a contaminated surface. A dash of vinegar mixed with lukewarm water is a good way to get the tiles sparkling clean. The joints should be free of grease and absolutely free of soap residue before processing.
  2. Remove the bits of grout that have come loose before adding new grout. A joint scraper from the hardware store can help you with this. Tip: You can also use a toothbrush to get the smallest parts out. This also makes it easy to clean the spaces in between. Now let the damp areas dry before you start touching up.

Repair tile joints step by step

Find the right grout

When buying the grout, make sure that it also matches the type of tile. Porous tiles made of natural stone require a specially tailored mortar, which can be found in hardware stores under the name natural stone laying mortar. Glass tiles, on the other hand, are white and particularly fine. For most other tiles, the joint width is the decisive criterion. There are differences in the bonding properties between grout for up to 5 millimeters and those for up to 20 millimeters. The subsurface is also important. If there is underfloor heating, the mortar must be elastic. Tip: Grout can also be refined later with Fugen-Flex. This additive from the hardware store usually makes the compound more waterproof, flexible and tear-resistant.

  1. First you have to mix the right grout for your tiles (see box) with clear water, adhering exactly to the mixing ratio stated on the package. In order to give the mass the necessary consistency, you should knead it for five minutes by hand or with a mixer for the do-it-yourself sector. If you have a drill with a corresponding whisk attachment, this utensil will save you a lot of effort. Note: Do not set more than 600 revolutions per minute, otherwise a lot of air will be brought into the mass.
  2. Do not put more than a fingernail full of grout per joint to be repaired on your joint spatula or tile wiper and smooth it out in the gaps in a diagonal direction - so do not run the tool vertically or horizontally along the joint. This way you ensure that the joints are filled evenly.
  3. After a drying time of five minutes, clean the surrounding tiles only with water using a household sponge or a damp sponge board. You shouldn't wait much longer to clean as the grout hardens quickly. Grout that is too wet still shines, slightly dried grout is matt.
  4. Now wait 24 hours before adding moisture to the repaired joints. If the color of the new grout does not quite match the rest, there is the option of adapting it later with a special tile grout from the hardware store.
Work in the grout diagonally to the joint.

Sealing tile joints correctly - this is how it works

Especially in rooms with a lot of moisture such as the bathroom, it pays off if the Provide tile joints with a seal (also called impregnation) become. How to proceed:

  1. Remove all soap and limescale residue with water and a clean sponge or toothbrush, then let the surface dry. Otherwise the seal would not adhere properly.
  2. Use a special joint impregnation agent from the hardware store. You should apply this to the grout with a brush. Pay attention to the dosage information on the product. There are also spray bottles that you can use as well.
  3. Then remove excess on the tiles with a damp cloth or sponge without additives. Most remedies only reach their full effectiveness after 24 to 36 hours. In no case should you clean the sealed surfaces beforehand.

Renew tile joints completely - how often and how are you?

After ten to 15 years, tile joints that have been exposed to high levels of moisture have mostly done their job. Grout consists of cement, among other things, which is water-repellent but not waterproof. At some point the joints become cracked and literally begin to crumble. Then you should completely renew the joints.

There are two options for renewing tile joints: You can either scrape or mill out old material. Silicone joints in the sanitary area are easier to scrape out. You can read how this works in the guide “Mold in the bathroom: How to get and keep tiles and grout clean”. But if you want to remove grout, a milling machine will make your work easier. There are special joint milling machines in the hardware store, which you can also borrow. But one Multi-function tool with milling attachment does an equally good job.

Follow these four steps when renewing tile grout.

1. Preparatory measures for renewing tile joints

In addition to the milling machine, you need the same utensils for grouting as for repairs, and you should also get painter's foil and adhesive tape to cover the fixed items of furniture. Since the grout that has been milled out creates a lot of dirt, it is better to unscrew mirrors and other things that are attached to the wall beforehand. You should also have a ladder for tall tiles and have your vacuum cleaner ready. An assistant who holds the vacuum cleaner to the joints while working can save you work. Cement film remover from the hardware store will help clean the tiles later. This is a chemical cleaner that removes a slight gray haze, especially on lighter tiles and stone slabs.

2. Mill out the joint compound

Place the tool of your choice on the joint and then guide the cutting blade with a steady hand through the old grout so that the tiles are not damaged. In the case of large areas, it is advisable to wear a breathing mask, as the dust can be immense. If it is wall tiles, work from top to bottom so that no grout can get stuck in the joints that have already been milled out. For tiles close to the ceiling, it is advisable to use a ladder and a foil that you place on the floor to protect it from dripping grout.

3. Touch up and clean up

Scrape out the remnants of the mortar mass with the joint scraper. Once everything has been resolved, take your vacuum cleaner to hand and vacuum the remains from the joints. Then wipe the gaps thoroughly with a damp cloth or rag. Let dry briefly.

4. Grouting the tiles

After you have mixed the grout as described above, apply it in dabs to a tile wiper or spatula and work the mortar diagonally to the joint. Repeat this process until the joints are evenly filled. Let the mass dry for five minutes and then clean the tiles with a sponge that is not too wet or, more simply, with a sponge board. Since the tiles get much dirtier when renewing the joints than when they are repaired, you can use a cement film remover from the hardware store to help clean them. Be careful, however, not to wash the mortar out of the newly grouted crevices. After renewing, it is advisable to seal the fresh grout as described above.

Important: Always apply the mortar diagonally to the joint.

Mending tile joints yourself without a specialist

Where you might prefer to use a specialist for tiling, you can use the appropriate tools to repair or replace joints yourself. Only when milling out old mortar mass should you be careful not to ruin the tiles. Otherwise, not much can go wrong - in the worst case, you will have to rework at one point or another.

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