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Maintaining, removing and replacing tiles

Protect your tiles from damp or replace them in a jiffy. Gavin Wright, from Which? Local-recommended Versatile, gave us these how-to tips.

Tiled bathroom

Tile maintenance

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If water gets behind your tiles it can ruin your plaster, plasterboard and timber and be costly to repair. It's easy to prevent with some simple maintenance.

  • Ventilate your bathroom with an extractor fan or open window. This helps prevent mould which breaks down silicone sealant and causes leaks.
  • Remove any existing mouldy or loose sealant with a Stanley knife or window scraper. Replace it with top quality, ideally mould-resistant, bath/shower sealant.
  • Got natural stone or polished porcelain tiles? Every few years, reapply the protective potion -called stone sealant or stone treatment- applied when they were first put in.
  • Prod your tiles with your fingers. If any tiles are cracked or move even slightly, replace them immediately.

How to remove and replace tiles

  1. Prise off damaged tiles and old adhesive with a scraper. If the wall underneath is damp, keep taking off tiles even if they don't seem damaged, till you hit dry wall again.
  2. Leave the wall until it looks dry. Severe water damage may take a few days.
  3. Got plastered or rendered walls? Water down some PVA (polyvinal acetate) according to pack instructions and apply this to the wall.
  4. You need the following: matching tiles; adhesive; an adhesive rake; plastic tile spacers; grout and a grout float or squeegee. Ask your local supplier which types of adhesive and grout are best for you. Make sure you choose a shade of grout that closely matches your existing grout.
  5. Apply adhesive to the wall with the rake. Fix each tile to the wall with a slight twisting motion as you apply pressure. Use spacers to perfect grout lines. Wipe tiles clean as you go. Leave adhesive to dry overnight.
  6. Next day, clean any excess adhesive off the tiles, especially the grout lines -between the tiles and along their edges.
  7. To grout, use the float or squeegee to get the grout in the grooves. Clean the excess with a good quality sponge. Once it's done, polish it all with a dry cloth. An old towel works well.
  8. Apply silicone sealant around the bath/shower tray and up any corners.

About our expert trader

Tiler Gavin Wright from Versatile in Cobham, Surrey

Gavin Wright runs Cobham-based tiling business Versatile. The business covers Surrey and the surrounding area, including west and south-west London.

Versatile has been praised by Which? members for offering helpful advice and for quality workmanship.

Versatile is also a member of Trading Standards' Buy With Confidence scheme.

Read reviews for Versatile