Replacing Cracked Ceramic Floor Tile

Technical Procedures Disclaimer

Prior to inclusion in GSA’s library of procedures, documents are reviewed by one or more qualified preservation specialists for general consistency with the Secretary of Interior Standards for rehabilitating historic buildings as understood at the time the procedure is added to the library. All specifications require project-specific editing and professional judgement regarding the applicability of a procedure to a particular building, project or location. References to products and suppliers are to serve as a general guideline and do not constitute a federal endorsement or determination that a product or method is the best or most current alternative, remains available, or is compliant with current environmental regulations and safety standards. The library of procedures is intended to serve as a resource, not a substitute, for specification development by a qualified preservation professional.


We’ve reviewed these procedures for general consistency with federal standards for rehabilitating historic buildings and provide them only as a reference. Specifications should only be applied under the guidance of a qualified preservation professional who can assess the applicability of a procedure to a particular building, project or location. References to products and suppliers serve as general guidelines and do not constitute a federal endorsement nor a determination that a product or method is the best alternative or compliant with current environmental regulations and safety standards.



A. This procedure includes guidance on replacing cracked, broken, worn or poorly color matched replacement tiles with new to match original.

B. Safety Precautions:

  1. Comply with municipal and Federal regulations governing the cleaning, chemical waste disposal, scaffolding protection to adjacent properties and workers.
  2. Refer to Federal Government Specification Section 01546, Health and Safety, and comply with all the section requirements.

C. See 01100-07-S for general project guidelines to be reviewed along with this procedure. These guidelines cover the following sections:

  1. Safety Precautions
  2. Historic Structures Precautions
  3. Submittals
  4. Quality Assurance
  5. Delivery, Storage and Handling
  6. Project/Site Conditions
  7. Sequencing and Scheduling
  8. General Protection (Surface and Surrounding)

    These guidelines should be reviewed prior to performing this procedure and should be followed, when applicable, along with recommendations from the Regional Historic Preservation Officer (RHPO).


A. American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM),
100 Barr Drive,
West Conshohocken, PA 19428
610-832-9585 or FAX 610-832-9555.

  1. ASTM C 503-88 -- Standard Specification for Marble Building Stone (Exterior); most recent version.
  2. ASTM C 920-87 -- Standard Specification for Elastomeric Joint Sealants; most recent version.
  3. ASTM E 119-88 -- Standard Test Methods for Fire Tests of Building Construction and Materials; most recent version.

B. American National Standards Institute, Inc. (ANSI),
1430 Broadway
New York, NY 10018.

  1. ANSI A108.4-1985 -- Installation of Ceramic Tile with Organic Adhesives or Water Cleanable Tile Setting Epoxy Adhesives; most recent version.
  2. ANSI A108.5-1985 -- Installation of Ceramic Tile with Dry-Set Portland Cement Mortar or Latex- Portland Cement Mortar; most recent version.
  3. ANSI A108.10-1985 -- Installation of Grout in Tilework; most recent version.
  4. ANSI A118.1-1985 -- American National Standard Specifications for Dry-Set Portland Cement Mortar; most recent version.
  5. ANSI A118.3-1985 -- American National Standard Specifications for Chemical Resistant, Water Cleanable Tile Setting and Grouting Epoxy and Water Cleanable Tile Setting Epoxy Adhesive; most recent version.
  6. ANSI A118.6-1985 -- American National Standard Specifications for Ceramic Tile Grouts; most recent version.

C. Tile Council of America, Inc. (TCA),
P.O. Box 326,
Princeton, NJ 08540

  1. Handbook for Ceramic Tile Installation; most recent version.


A. Product Data: Manufacturer's technical information and installation instructions for materials required, except bulk materials.

B. Samples for Initial Selection Purposes: Manufacturer's color charts consisting of actual tiles or sections of tile showing full range of colors, textures and patterns available for each type of tile indicated. Include samples of grout and accessories involving color selection.

C. Samples for Verification Purposes: Submit the following.

  1. Samples for each type of tile and for each color and texture required, not less than 12 inches square, on plywood or hardboard backing and grouted.
  2. Full-size samples for each type of trim and accessory and for each color.
  3. Six inch long samples of stone thresholds.

D. Control Sample Panels:

  1. The Contractor shall clean a 4'-0" by 4'-0" bay of the existing ceramic floor tile on each different color for review by the Contracting Officer's representative. Locations of sample floor bays to be selected by the Contracting Officer's representative. These cleaned ceramic floor tile bays are to be protected by the Contractor and will be used for matching replacement ceramic floor tiles.
  2. The Contractor shall prepare a sample bay, approximately 2'-0" by 2'-0" of replaced ceramic floor tile. The sample bay should be made to match the existing cleaned adjacent ceramic floor tile in all respects. The Contracting Officer's representative shall select the location for the sample of replaced ceramic floor tile.


A. The general objective of the installation of new ceramic floor tile is to recreate the original design intent of the primary historic spaces. The original design drawings are to be used for the installation patterns.

B. The general objective for replacement of ceramic floor tiles is to match the existing floor color, pattern and the existing adjacent floor tiles, and all other respects to that the new floor tiles are not visible in the overall view of the floors.

C. The general objectives for cleaning the ceramic floor tiles are to remove dirt and grime from the surface without damaging the underlying material, and to give all the flooring a clean uniform appearance.

D. Contractor: The work of this section shall be performed by an installer who is certified in writing by the ceramic floor tile manufacturer as qualified to complete the scope of work described. Work in this section shall be performed by a Contractor possessing a minimum of three (3) years of specialized experience in the installation of ceramic floor tiles. The Contractor shall submit to the Contracting Officer's representative references of previous work justifying the firm's experience. The Contracting Officer's representative reserves the right to approve or disapprove the use of the Contractor contingent on the firm's experience.

E. In the event that a Contractor wishes to modify any methods specified in this section, he shall submit his proposal in writing for consideration and review. The Contracting Officer's representative will have the right to ask for samples before final approval. Any such modifications or changes shall be at no additional cost to the Government.


A. Environmental Requirements:

  1. Maintain environmental conditions and protect work during and after installation to comply with referenced standards and manufacturer's printed recommendations.
  2. Vent temporary heaters to exterior to prevent damage to tile work from carbon dioxide build-up.
  3. Maintain temperatures at not less than 50 F in tiled areas during installation and for seven days after completion, unless higher temperatures are required by referenced installation standards or manufacturer's instructions.


A.Extra Materials: Deliver stock of maintenance materials to the Government. Furnish maintenance materials from the same lot as materials installed and enclosed in protective packaging with appropriate identifying labels.

  1. Furnish not less than two percent maintenance stock for each type, color, pattern and size of tile product installed.



A. Dow Chemical Company
P.O. Box 994
Midland, MI 48686-0994


A. ANSI Standard for Tile Installation Materials: Comply with the ANSI standard that is referenced along with those products and materials that are indicated for setting and grouting.

B. Colors, Textures and Patterns: For tile, grout and other products requiring selection of colors, surface textures or other appearance characteristics, provide products to match the original ceramic tiles in the building.

C. Factory Blending: For tile exhibiting color variations within the ranges selected during sample submittals, blend tile in factory and package accordingly so that tile units taken from one package will show the same range in colors as those taken from other packages and will match approved samples.

D. Setting Materials:

  1. Dry-Set Portland Cement Mortar: ANSI A118.1.
  2. Water-Cleanable, Tile-Setting Epoxy Adhesive: ANSI A118.3.

E. Grouting Materials:

  1. Sand-Portland Cement Grout: ANSI A108.10.
  2. Latex-Portland Cement Grout: Comply with ANSI A118.6 for the following composition:
    • Pre-packaged dry grout mix incorporating dry polymer additive in the form of a re- emulsifiable powder to which only water is added at the project site.

F. Elastomeric Sealants:

  1. Compatibility: Provide sealants, joint fillers and other related materials that are compatible with one another and with joint substrates under conditions of service and application, as demonstrated by testing and field experience.
  2. Silicone Sealant: ASTM C 920; Type S; Grade NS; Class 25; Uses NT, G, A and as applicable to non- porous joint substrates; formulated with fungicide, intended for sealing interior ceramic tile joints and other non-porous substrates that are subject to in-service exposures of high humidity and temperature extremes.

G. Mixing Mortar and Grout:

  1. Mix mortar and grout to comply with requirements of referenced standards and manufacturers to produce mortar and grout of uniform quality with optimum performance characteristics for application indicated.
  2. The grout is to match the original existing grout in dimension, color and texture. Do not match to dirty grout.

H. Tile Cleaner: Non-abrasive household cleaner such as "Soft Scrub,"(Dow Chemical Company), or approved equal.

  1. Product should be specifically acceptable to tile manufacturer and grout manufacturer for application indicated and as recommended by National Tile Promotion Federation or Ceramic Tile Institute.



A. Carefully remove cracked or otherwise damaged ceramic tile without damaging surrounding intact tile or damaging the substrate.

B. Require installer to inspect sub-floor surfaces to determine that they are satisfactory. A satisfactory subfloor surface is defined as one that is smooth and free from cracks., holes, ridges and other defects impairing performance or appearance.

C. Work shall not proceed until the sub-floor surfaces have had all dirt and foreign matter removed and satisfy the manufacturer's printed instructions on preparation of substrate for new ceramic tile.

D. Blending: For tile exhibiting color variations within the ranges selected, verify that tile has been blended in the factory and packaged accordingly so that tile units taken from one package will show the same range in colors as those taken from other packages and will match approved samples. If not factory blended, either return to the manufacturer or blend tiles at the project site before installing.


A. Surface Preparation:

  1. Prior to tile replacement, clean all existing floor tiles to be cleaned with a non-abrasive household cleaner.
  2. Remove all cleaner residue by wiping the surfaces with a damp sponge using clean potable water.
  3. Wipe dry.


A. ANSI Tile Installation Standards: Comply with applicable parts of the ANSI A108 series for tile installation standards included under "American National Standard Specifications for the Installation of Ceramic Tile" for the type of setting and grouting materials and methods indicated.

B. TCA Installation Guidelines: TCA "Handbook for Ceramic Tile Installation" comply with TCA installation methods indicated or, if not otherwise indicated, as applicable to installation conditions shown.

C. Extend tile work into recesses and under or behind equipment and fixtures to form a complete covering without interruptions. Terminate work neatly at junctions within the original tiles.

D. Accurately form intersections and returns. Perform cutting and drilling of tile without marring visible surfaces. Carefully grind cut edges of tile abutting trim, finish or built-in items for straight, aligned joints. Fit tile closely to electrical outlets, piping, fixtures and other penetrations so that plates, collars or covers overlap tile.

E. Joint Patterns: Lay tile joints in grid pattern to match the original ceramic tile pattern. Provide uniform joint widths to match existing widths.

F. Expansion Joints: Locate expansion joints and other sealant filled joints including control, contraction and isolation joints where originally shown.

G. Grout tile to comply with the requirements of the following installation standards:

  1. Ceramic tile grouts (sand-Portland cement, dry-set, commercial Portland cement and latex-Portland cement grouts): ANSI A108.10.
  2. To match original cleaned grout.


A. Cleaning New Ceramic Tile: Upon completion of replacement and grouting, clean all ceramic tile surfaces so they are free of foreign matter.

  1. Remove latex-Portland cement grout residue from tile as soon as possible.

B. Finished Tile Work: Leave finished installation clean and free of cracked, chipped, broken, unbonded or otherwise defective tile work.


A. When recommended by tile manufacturer, apply a protective coat of neutral protective cleaner to completed tile work. Protect installed tile work with kraft paper or other heavy covering during construction period to prevent staining, damage and wear.

  1. Prohibit foot and wheeled traffic from using tiled floors at least seven days after grouting is completed.
  2. Before final inspection, remove protective coverings and rinse all tile surfaces with a neutral cleaner.