How to Find Replacement Ceramic and Clay Tiles
Finding replacement ceramic and clay tiles can be time consuming and frustrating. At the very least, finding replacement tiles will require trips to your local tile contractors. But if your tile is older, you need to be prepared for the fact that an exact match might not be available.
Your best bet is to always save extra tiles and grout whenever you install tiles. If you didn’t, you’ll need to either buy matching tile or take a tile from some place it won’t be missed, like inside a closet.
Contact the manufacturer. If your tile is fairly new, you can try contacting the manufacturer to see if the tile is still available. Manufacturers tend to change their merchandise often, so your tile might be long gone.
Don’t assume that just because the manufacturer still has a tile by the same name that it’ll look just the same as yours. Tiles vary in appearance with every tile run. Be sure to compare the new tile against your broken tile before you leave the store.
Search online or in a phonebook. If the tiles were laid a long time ago, it may be hard to find a match. Look online or in the phone book under Tile Contractors and Dealers. Before you run to the store, be sure that they serve the public — some are wholesale houses only. Then take a piece of the broken tile with you when you shop. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Mix and match new and existing tile. If you can’t find matching tile, get creative by looking for a similar tile in a different color. Then look at the floor and figure out if it’s possible to create a random or regular pattern with a second color. You may need to move some of the existing tiles around so that the pattern is more widespread. Remember that the new tile needs to be the same size as the old.
Visit architectural salvage stores. If your tile is vintage, try to find an architectural salvage store in your area. They carry pieces of tile (among other things) that have been salvaged from old buildings. If your tile was particularly popular once upon a time, you might luck out.
If you didn’t save your original grout, you’ll have to find a replacement for that as well. And just as with tile, grout comes in a variety of shades and textures. Not every white grout looks the same. When you go shopping take a piece of the old grout with you. Let the store employees figure out how you can match the color. Someone there will have the required expertise.