How can I cheaply patch ceramic bathroom wall tiles which are coming off?
July 27, 2008 3:55 PM   Subscribe

How can I cheaply patch ceramic bathroom wall tiles which are coming off?

Of course, the best choice in the long term would be I think to replace the tile entirely. At this time that is not an option for us, so I'd like to ask this question. In a pinch, what would you recommend to fix some tiles which are beginning to pull away from the wall?

A good section of the lower row of tiles on the broadest wall in the bathroom is loose. I've used caulk to patch things in the past, which helps a bit, but the help is temporary as the tile either pulls away again or something else happens. One tile (which was coming loose at the base of it, where the rim of the bathtub meets the tiles) had steel wool inserted and fairly strongly caulked. In fact, that was my original problem tile; the problem seems to have moved onto others.

I've uploaded some pictures (they're on my wife's flickr account). As you can see, the tile problems lead up to a soap dish (currently unused), which itself is a bit askew now and not firmly anchored to the wall.

Myself, I've had the idea of putting up a tension rod and a shower curtain in addition to any other repairs I could make, which may help until the final solution (re-tiling the whole thing) can be done. But any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
posted by moz to Home & Garden (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Are you just caulking the grout joint? That won't even be a good temporary fix.

There are two options, you could probably buy a small amount of mastic from a flooring supply or hardware store and reset the tile, then caulk the grout joint as a temporary fix.

The other option is doing the same thing, but using a gorilla glue or some other adhesive.

Mastic is better, it i how the tile was set to begin with (ideally), but the gorilla glue is cheaper, quicker, and less messy.

Also, check behind the tile to see why it is coming up. If you have a leak behind the wall, or a bad seal with the tub, water could be getting behind there causing the problem.
posted by Loto at 4:03 PM on July 27, 2008

Response by poster: an addendum: i peeked in with a flashlight through where the grout is gone, and i expected to see some drywall, but instead i caught the glint of dull, gray metal. weird. i don't know what that is. is it possible the drywall has rotted away?
posted by moz at 5:15 PM on July 27, 2008

That gray metal may be the metal wall studs. If that missing grout is near a wall-plug it may be the electric box. It is very unlikely your drywall has rotted away unless there is massive water damaage inside the wall.

I'd suggest you go to this website. It is full of 'fix-it' articles.
posted by JayRwv at 5:45 PM on July 27, 2008

Dull gray metal grating is used behind lots of tile these days to help hold the grout, it provides the same function as the texture on bricks to hold the mortar/grout in place.

Based on the pics I'm going to guess that they're lose because water's gotten behind them via that soap dish. A temporary fix is gorilla glue or something like Loto said, however...

If there's water getting back there it's also getting behind your tub, or sink, or whatever that is, and that means you've got more issues than you might think you have.

You could pop out that much tile in 20 minutes, and then either panel or re-tile it in an afternoon. Those tiles are crazy cheap. You're gonna want to fix this though, because it has the potential to take out the wall.
posted by TomMelee at 11:28 PM on July 27, 2008

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