How To Hide Tiling Mistakes: 5 Ways (No Need To Start Over!)


Tiling is a home improvement job that can certainly be done on your own, but it can be tricky.  In a perfect world, you would catch the mistakes before you finish a project. You might even be able to remove the offending section of tile and try again.

However, starting over can be expensive, time-consuming, and frustrating. Here are a few helpful hints to correct some common tiling mishaps:

Try hiding uneven edges with molding or trim and use larger fixtures and light plates to cover oversized holes. You can also fill in troublesome gaps and crumbling grout with fresh caulk. If your underlayment is uneven, you can use cement board to level it out for your tile layer.

Don’t be discouraged if something’s gone wrong. These are great ways to hide disappointing tile without having to rip up everything and start again.

Tips To Start Your Tiling Projects Off Right

Nobody’s perfect, and even an experienced tiler can make mistakes. However, starting off well-prepared is the best way to lessen the chances of those mistakes. 

Before you begin tiling, follow these tips to start your project off on the right foot.

Gather The Right Tools For The Job

There are three major steps to tiling: applying thinset, laying your tile, and applying grout. Each task requires different tools and methods to be done properly. Ensure you know exactly what you need for each step and have it laid out and ready to go.

For thinset, be sure to use the right kind for your chosen tile. It’s also important to use the right size trowel so you can lay the appropriate thickness.

Laying tile is mostly about the tile itself, but you should make sure you have enough to finish the job. It’s even better to have a little extra in case something does go wrong during the project. You should also choose a tile that works best for each room of your home.

Just like with thinset, you should make sure the grout you use is appropriate for your type of tile.

Finally, make sure you have the right materials to protect the rest of your home while you work. Have cleaning products on hand to clean up any messes as they happen.

Measure Twice, Cut Once

One of the most common tiling mistakes is not sizing correctly. That goes for both the tiles themselves and any holes you may need to cut for appliances and fixtures.

The adage “measure twice, cut once” is an oldie but a goldie. Double-check all your measurements before you even purchase your materials – then measure again before you lay or cut anything.

Spending a little extra time on measurements is much better than spending a lot of time redoing the whole job.

Take Your Time

Rushing through a job is almost a guarantee that something will go wrong. It could mean you have more to clean up at the end because you weren’t careful with your grout. It could also mean your tiles end up crooked, or maybe you miscalculate where you cut a hole.

Plan out your job step-by-step before you begin. Give yourself plenty of time to finish, even if that means taking an extra day. 

Best Ways To Hide Tiling Mistakes

There are many ways tiling can go wrong. The following tips can help you cover up some common issues so no one will ever know they were there.

1. Add Cement Board Over Damaged Underlayment

The underlayment is a thin layer of material that goes between your subfloor and your tiling material. If you’ve laid your underlayment incorrectly or if it was in bad shape to begin with, you can fix it. Use a 1/4- or 1/2-inch cement board on top of the underlayment to level it out.

This will give your tiling an even, undamaged surface on which to lay.

2. Cover Up Untidy Corners With Molding

Laying tiles is an art, and part of doing it properly includes evenly butting the tiles up against the wall. If you finish your tiling job and realize your edges and corners look uneven, try adding trim or molding.

Choose a trim that matches your tile style and attach it to your wall with construction adhesive. Tape off the edges of your wall with painter’s tape and seal the edges of your trim with caulk.

You can adjust the trim size and placement to minimize the uneven or sloppy tiles.

3. Fix Crumbling Grout With Caulk

You may find that the area where your tiles meet a counter or another wall has crumbling grout. If so, you have two issues to address.

The first is that there likely wasn’t enough room left between the tile and the new plane. This space is called an expansion joint; it gives room for the house’s natural contraction and expansion through the seasons.

With no adequate expansion joint, there’s no space for the house to settle. It puts too much pressure on the place where the tile and the other surface meet.

The second issue is with the grout itself. Because this expansion joint needs to be flexible, grout is a bad idea. For these sections of your tiling job, you should use caulk. It provides the flexibility your house needs to shift with changing temperatures.

 The good news is that you don’t have to retile anything. All you need is to scrape away the old grout with a putty knife or caulk removal tool. Then, line your surfaces with painter’s tape and apply the caulk.

If there’s too big of a gap between your tiles and the counter or wall, that’s fixable, too. Add a backer rod after you’ve removed the old grout or caulk. Just place it into the crack and then fill in the rest with caulk as normal.

4. Resize Your Shower Fixtures

It can be hard to cut tile to the exact size for your shower fixtures. If you cut too small, you can obviously cut more to make the holes larger. But if you’ve already cut away too much, you still have a couple of options.

The easiest option is to just buy a trim kit in a larger size. If you don’t want to buy another fixture, though, you can use grout or caulk. Provided the gap isn’t too large, just fill it in with some grout or caulk that matches your décor colors.

5. Cover Up Light Switch Mishaps

If you’ve cut the gap for your light switch too wide in your tile, switch to a larger wall plate. You can even use them on the rest of your light switches to create a uniform look.

Maybe you’ve cut the hole to the right size, but your tile is too thick. Your switch plate will be set too deeply into the wall and look sunken.

Instead of starting over with thinner tile (which is both expensive and labor-intensive), use an outlet spacer extender. These pieces of plastic sit behind your plates and push them out so they’re more in line with your wall.

Final Thoughts

Taking your time, measuring adequately, and using the right tools are all key to starting your tiling jobs off right. However, even a DIYer with plenty of practice can still make mistakes.

There’s no need to worry if you notice a few flaws in your tiling, though. If you have problems with uneven edges, you can use trim or molding to hide them. You can also cover up bad underlayment with a more even surface, and even replace poorly placed grout with caulk.

Even after the thinset and grout are dry, you still have options to cover up any imperfections in your tile.

Katherine Ann

Katherine is a freelance writer who enjoys DIY home décor and refurbishing tired furniture. In addition to writing for PlumbJoe, she blogs about books and movies and writes creatively in her spare time.

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