How to find replacement ceramic tiles

Written by sarabeth asaff
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Ceramic tiles that have been properly installed and maintained can last for decades. Sometimes however, damage can occur to one or more tiles due to the home settling, removal of old bathroom accessories or an accidental blow to a tile with a blunt object. In these cases, and in the case of historical preservation, it makes more sense to find a replacement ceramic tile to patch the tiling job, rather than to retile the entire area.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Ruler
  • Padded mailing envelope

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  1. 1

    Measure the tile to be replaced. If the tile to be replaced has broken into pieces, measure the height and width of an intact installed tile. Clean any remaining mortar off of the broken tile piece and measure the thickness of the remaining tile. Tile thicknesses and sizes have changed considerably over the years; modern tiles may be smaller and thinner than older tiles so proper measuring to find the right replacement is key.

  2. 2

    Visit a speciality tile showroom which deals in special-order ceramic tiles and materials. Locate these showrooms by doing an Internet search for "tile showrooms" along with the town or area in which you live. Call the showrooms to ensure that they carry special order materials in the size tile you are looking for; special order materials will be important for hard to find colours. Bring a sample of the tile to be replaced to the showroom for colour.

  3. 3

    Search for tiles that are the same length and width as the tile to be replaced. Make sure that the potential replacement tile is the same thickness or thinner than the tile to be replaced; thinner tiles can be made thicker with additional mortar, thicker tiles will stand out away from the tiles surrounding them.

  4. 4

    Contact the manufacturer of the correctly-sized tiles through the tile showroom by asking a sales consultant to call the manufacturer's customer service. Inquire about ordering replacement tiles in the company's standard size in a special colour.

  5. 5

    Send a sample of the colour to the manufacturer in a padded, mailing envelope. Depending on the colour, type of glaze and typical lead time of the manufacturer, the new tiles can be expected in anywhere from 4 to 16 weeks. Pratt and Larson ceramics of Oregon, for example will take approximately 12 weeks to colour match and make replacement tiles.

Tips and warnings

  • If unable to find replacement tiles of the correct size or colour, rather than attempting to patch the job with a mismatched tile, get creative and remove a number of tiles from the wall or floor. Fill in the entire area with a speciality tile, such as glass mosaic or decorative, hand-painted tiles. This will make the repair look intentional, rather than miss-matched.

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