Even if ceramic tile works are intended to last for decades, accidents may happen. Broken tiles need to be replaced quickly to limit the damage to spread around to the other tiles and to keep the whole ceramic surface looking impeccable and complete.
It is known that you can install ceramic tiles on almost any surface even on wood. More than that, ceramic tiles that are installed on wood can be replaced easily and quickly. Your home stairwell will look great again as in the first day.
Cutting the Old Grout Out
You need first to cut the old grout out of the joints that surround the damaged area. In this way, when you will work to replace the old broken tiles, your movements will not affect the surrounding tiles. If you start to work without cutting the grout, your movements can certainly trigger a real chain reaction that will affect the stability and even crack the surrounding tiles.
Removing the Old Broken Tiles and the Thinset
For who does not know, thinset is the adhesive used to attach tile to the surface. So, the thinset as well as all the old tile remnants need to be removed and the surface needs to be cleaned prior reinstalling the new tiles.
To do that you can use a floor scraper or you can chisel the old and hardened thinset. You can use also a belt sander to sand the thinset down. However, you need to reach the bare wood and the surface to be completely clean.
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Use only Rated Thinset & Grout
Use only rated grout and thinset if you want that your ceramic tile work to last for generations. Theoretically, ceramic tiles need to be installed over a concrete based or a fiber underlayment, but over the years, chemical industry has created new polymers. If you add these polymers to the thinset, you can install your tiles on the wooden surfaces. Therefore, as long you use the right grout and thinset your stairs will last for many years.
Use Rapid Set Mortar
If your stairwell is in quite high traffic area and you do not want to block this traffic for too long, then you can use rapid setting grouts and mortars. These rapid set mortars are designed to cure just in a few hours rather than three days as traditional mortars and grouts and you will have your stairwell back in use as soon as possible.