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Unread 09-22-2020, 07:01 PM   #1
infamous54
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Cracked Shower Tile...I'm Devastated...Can I Repair???

I was installing a sliding glass shower door and the instructions call for drilling a 1/4" hole for the C channel. Everything was going just fine until the end when the bit finally penetrated the tile. The entire tile cracked and I was like WTF!!! I spent 2 weeks and almost $3,000 tiling this bathroom.... needless to say that I'm devastated. Really looking for some advice here.

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Unread 09-22-2020, 07:09 PM   #2
Tool Guy - Kg
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Welcome to the forum, Michael.

So sorry to hear. I’m assuming you’d much rather do anything than replace that panel?

My first thought is to remove the track, carefully remove the grout or caulk, then go about removing the piece of tile so that I could apply a proper adhesive to make a repair with clear epoxy. But I’d like to know more about what happened to crack the tile...what kind of bit were you drilling with? And judging by what seams to be displacement of the cracked portion, I’m guessing that you don’t have 100% mortar behind that edge?

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Unread 09-22-2020, 07:10 PM   #3
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What substrate did you use behind the tiles?

Usually we cut out the grout and chisel out the tile. The difficulty involved will vary depending on which substrate you used.
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Unread 09-23-2020, 03:35 AM   #4
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Substrate is durock and I used Schluter All Set for my thinset with a 3/4 by 9/16 U Notch trowel and the black edge is schluter rondec trim. The walls are extremely out of plumb, so I couldn't get proper coverage on the entire tile. Is there a 'cracked tile fix' like epoxy?
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Unread 09-23-2020, 10:34 AM   #5
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Welcome, Michael.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael
The walls are extremely out of plumb, so I couldn't get proper coverage on the entire tile.
Not at all sure I understand that. You're indicating that you attempted to plumb the tile installation without having plumbed your substrate?
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Unread 09-23-2020, 06:13 PM   #6
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I've seen a few marble installers over the years that could patch chips in marble and make it look exactly like the stone but I've never seen it done on porcelain tiles. I've heard of using porcelain touch up paint (like for refrigerator doors) to touch up chips in tile but I would imagine there are only a few colors to choose from. A crack like you have will be much harder to hide than a small chip.

I would replace the tile. If you do, be sure you remove the grout around it or you might break one of the neighboring tiles.
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Unread 09-23-2020, 07:19 PM   #7
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The cement in thinset gets harder and the bond stronger by the day, so if you're thinking about trying to remove it, time is important.
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Unread 09-24-2020, 02:17 PM   #8
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If it's properly bonded, it will be difficult to remove without damaging the Durock in the process. If you didn't bond it properly, your lack of proper coverage may actually work in your favor.

Either way, breaking the tile up in pieces is the way to start. A hammer and nails set is the way to do that. Pulling off tiny pieces is much less likely to damage the substrate.

Just to confirm, the tile is over bare Durock, with no waterproofing layer in between, correct?
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Unread 09-24-2020, 05:19 PM   #9
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This is a dilemma. On one hand, you've got a chance to make a repair by removing the grout to carefully epoxy the tile back together again. This is the "easy button" approach. With colored epoxy, the repair will be relatively neat.

On the other hand, you've got voids behind the tile and that makes a whole bunch of us pros cringe. We know that you're supposed to get at least 95% mortar coverage on the backs of the tile because it's a real liability for moisture infiltration. So, most of us want you to remove and replace the tile so it's "correct".

I will say that I've torn out zillions of showers and the substrate/wall moisture damage that I see so regularly is not going to exist on your left wall at such a high height. I'd want to know more info on this shower. Like, what did you do for waterproofing, and how much mortar coverage percentage do you think you have on all the other walls? After this info, I might feel like I've got enough data to start making a good decision on what to repair.

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Unread 09-24-2020, 06:08 PM   #10
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It can be really sobering to get into a task as a DIY'er without good training when we try to emulate a skilled pro. I know that I've made my share of whoops that I wish I could take back. Sometimes, you get lucky, sometimes, you don't. Sometimes, you either have to live with it, or bite the bullet when you find out you goofed, and need to deal with a situation you thought was fine, and now, it's a bigger deal.

Call it one of life's learning experiences, and try not to make the same mistake the next time, and hope this isn't all that serious.

If this is a real marble as opposed to a porcelain tile made to look like it, the issue may partly be the fact that it is a natural product which can often have some inconsistencies in it. This is one reason why it is desirable, but it presents its own problems as it can have some weak areas and may be why it cracked there. Marble is also subject to moisture issues, so the questions about how much coverage you have is important. If moisture can accumulate in voids beneath the tile, you can get some weird coloration changes as the tile absorbs moisture.

If you can remove the grout around that break, loosen it from the adhesive underneath, and get the right adhesive, you may be able to make a reliable, long-term fix. Somebody who installs counters will probably have the right tools and skills to do this, or a stone restorer. If you have some extra tile, replacing the entire tile can work, depending on how well it's attached and if what waterproofing you used underneath, if any. I think you mentioned Durock...but if this is on the curb, that's an issue, too. There's no good way to use a cbu on a curb.
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Unread 09-26-2020, 02:23 PM   #11
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How much stress is the hinge putting on the door hung? Any change it will cause more problems?

Running 24x48 is not easy so i give you props for doing so. You could fill it with CA glue and scrape it down afterwards. With the veining you have, after scraping it may match well enough, otherwise get a sharpie. That would be the easiest fix and take about 10 minutes.
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Unread 09-26-2020, 02:51 PM   #12
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I didn't catch that those were such large tile. I'd definitely try a repair first and see how it looks before I'd remove the tile.

Actually, removal would be my last option.
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Unread 09-26-2020, 03:45 PM   #13
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As a separate related question is there a minimum distance from the edge of a tile that a hole like that can be drilled reliably and support the weight of a door?
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Unread 09-26-2020, 04:00 PM   #14
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Quote:
As a separate related question is there a minimum distance from the edge of a tile that a hole like that can be drilled reliably and support the weight of a door?
I don't think I've ever had one closer than perhaps 3/4", but I'm always careful to have full mortar coverage for the reason you found.

I look at it not as what the tile can hold, but rather what the framing behind will support. A clearance hole in tile with hinge mounting screw grabbing framing only. It will "pinch" the tile and mortar, but isn't reliant on them for actual load carrying.
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Unread 09-26-2020, 10:13 PM   #15
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Yeah, I agree. You’ve got to take what is behind your substrate into account. With full mortar coverage Between the tile and substrate...and proper framing behind The substrate, you could mount a door at the very edge of the tile without a problem. But voids in mortar or a lack of structure behind critical areas that bear weight is a recipe for flexing and tile cracking.

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