You’re in the shower on a cool wintery morning, enjoying the feel of hot water cascading over your body and sudsing up your hair.
Suddenly, you notice a hairline crack in one of the tiles. And then you see another and another.
Your very first instinct might be to grab a hammer and break out the damaged tiles. But before you do any demolition, there are a few things you should know about repairing hairline cracks in the shower.
For starters, hairline cracks are usually not a structural issue. They’re caused by the expansion and contraction of the tile, grout, or both. So, unless the crack is severe or spreading, you can usually repair it without removing and replacing the tile.
The best way to repair a hairline crack in the shower is to use epoxy resin. Epoxy resin is a robust and durable material that can be used to fill in gaps and holes. It’s also waterproof, so it’ll seal up the crack and prevent water from getting in and damaging the tile.
But there are a few other techniques, including your favorite makeup (secret here, will reveal in just seconds), to waterproof and fix the cracks.
So, let’s dive deep into those methods along with step-by-step instructions.
Method 1 – Using Epoxy for Tile Repair
To repair hairline cracks in shower tile without removing them, you’ll need:
- Epoxy resin
- Mixing stick
To get the best long-lasting results, you must start with a spotless and dry tile.
Step 1- Start by cleaning the area around the crack with soap. Use some rubbing alcohol if the tile is too dirty, and then rinse the space nicely.
To fully dry the inside of the hairline crack, use a hairdryer for 10 to 15 minutes on the fractured area.
Step 2- Next, you need to use two-part clear epoxy to fill the crack.
On a disposable lid or a piece of cardboard, mix equal epoxy contents using a small mixing stick.
Then using a thin paintbrush or a toothpick, dab a tiny amount of epoxy mixture into the hairline crack. If required, use some more epoxy mix to fill the crack until you get an even layer on the tile.
Step 3- Once filled, keep the repaired areas dry for at least 12 hours for the epoxy to set.
Also, do not allow foot traffic for 24 hours and any water to come in contact with the repair for at least 72 hours.
Method 2 – Using Super Glue to Fix Tile Cracks
Superglue is another great way to fix cracks in shower tiles without removing them. All you need is a little superglue and a toothpick.
- First, clean the area around the cracks with some rubbing alcohol to help the glue adhere better.
- Next, use the toothpick to apply a small amount of glue to the crack. Be sure not to use too much glue, or it will ooze out and be visible.
- Allow the glue to dry for 24 hours before using the shower.
Method 3 – Fixing Chipped Shower Tile with Nail Polish
Using your powerful makeup tool (nail polish) is another excellent technique by which you can fix, repair, and waterproof the cracks on your ceramic or porcelain shower tiles.
Particularly if you are a bit creative and have a steady hand, you should definitely try this technique.
- Choose the same nail color as your chipped tile and using a small brush fill the hairline cracks.
- Before the nail paint dries/cures, wipe away any excess with a towel.
- As an alternative to nail paint or nail polish, you can also consider using waterproof paint to cure the hairline cracks in your bathroom or kitchen.
Use a Combination of the Above Methods
For tiles cracks that are significantly larger or more noticeable in your bathroom or kitchen, you can use a combination of the above-mentioned methods.
For example, you could first use epoxy to fill in the cracks and then use nail polish to color and cover up the area. This will ensure that the cracks are filled and waterproofed and that they’re also less noticeable.
Another option is to use super glue to fill in the cracks and then use waterproof paint to cover them up. Consider coating the repaired tiles with a clear urethane sealer. This will strengthen the repair you have made and will also make the glossy tiles last longer without worrying about future cracks.
Repairing vs. Replacing the Cracked Shower Tile
Repairing is worth your time and effort if there are only a few hairlines cracks on a single (or couple of) tiles.
However, if water is seeping through your tile or you have multiple tiles with larger cracks, it’s time to replace them entirely.
Repairing or touching up the fine cracks that you see on more than four, five, or even more tiles in your entire space is not worth the time, money, and effort – it will be much more convenient to just get new tiles.
But, if there are only 1-2 tiles that need to be replaced, you can do it yourself by following these steps:
- Using a power drill, drill 3–4 small holes in the cracked tile. This will weaken the tile for easy removal.
- Then using a hammer and a chisel, chip apart and remove the tile.
- Remove any remaining grout or masonry from beneath the tile.
- To attach a new tile, spread mortar on the base and place the tile. Gently press down on it with your hand until it is set.
- Squeeze a small amount of grout onto the bottom of the grout float and apply it slowly around the new tile.
- Finally, clean your new tile (and any other tiles with grout) by dampening a rag or old washcloth and rubbing the tiles before the grout dries.
Remember, if you’re you’re planning on remodeling your home anytime soon, make sure to pick up a few extra tiles – just in case. You never know when the style might stop being manufactured.
Also, if there are more than 3-4 tiles that need to be replaced, I would recommend hiring a good tiler or a service that provides bathroom renovation to do it for you because, if not done correctly, it can cause more harm than good and affect the surrounding tiles as well.
A professional will also have a better understanding of how to mix and match new tiles with old ones seamlessly.
The bottom line
Shower tiles with hairline cracks can be repaired without removal by one of the above-mentioned methods. However, if the crack is still visible or significantly larger, you can try a combination of the techniques I have detailed above.
If you think repairing the cracked tiles is not worth your time and energy, you will likely need to replace them. Be sure to get in touch with a good tiler to do this for you.
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for over a decade serving customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, and Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.