How To Fix Uneven Porcelain Floor Tiles – What To Do?

Uneven porcelain floor tiles look unsightly. Plus, the unevenness can become a health hazard. So how can you level your porcelain floor tiles? We researched this concern for your convenience and here's the solution we found.

Repairing the unevenness of porcelain floor tiles generally follows these steps:

  1. Remove the offending tiles.
  2. Mix and apply thinset mortar to the area where you removed the porcelain tiles.
  3. Set new tiles onto the mixture and insert the clips from a tile leveling system.
  4. Let the tiles sit overnight before removing the clips with a rubber mallet.
  5. Mix and apply new grout to the level tiles.

At first, you might think that this process is reasonably straightforward. But miss a few important specifics and you might commit costly mistakes. So continue reading as we talk about this procedure in greater detail.

Professionals lay porcelain tiles on the floor in the bathroom, How To Fix Uneven Porcelain Floor Tiles - What To Do?

What Happens If Tile Floor Is Not Level?

An uneven floor, regardless of the material used, can be hazardous. People walking on top of it can be at risk of falling, which can lead to further injuries like:

  • Fractures
  • Concussions
  • Nerve Damage
  • Broken Ribs
  • Paralysis

example of using crosses (spacers) for tiles during tiling works during finishing works

How Do You Level Porcelain Tiles?

The first step to leveling porcelain floor tiles is the removal of the uneven units. But before you can proceed with this task, prepare yourself by following safety practices, such as:

  • Keep your work area as clean as possible. Remove items that you don’t need from the vicinity to reduce the risks of accidental falls.
  • Always have proper lighting. If the room doesn’t have good lighting, it can be a good idea to place a portable lamp or light source nearby.
  • Repair underlying issues before replacing tiles. Otherwise, the unevenness might resurface over time.
  • Clean spills immediately. Liquid messes during the tile replacement job can also become culprits to the uneven flooring.
  • Wear protective gear. Equip yourself with safety equipment like goggles and a respirator to avoid irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat.

After taking note of those particulars, follow these steps to remove the uneven tiles from your floor:

Tiler placing porcelain tile in position over adhesive on Floor tile installation

What You’ll Need

  • Chisel
  • Standard hammer
  • Hammer with a hatchet on the back
  • Putty knife

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Place the hammer with the hatchet on the back of the crack or gap produced by the uneven tile. Make sure that the hatchet is facing the opening.
  2. Strike the hammer on the tile with the standard hammer repeatedly.
  3. Remove the tile from the flooring assembly once it’s loose.
  4. Scrape off the hardened grout with the putty knife.

Repeat these steps until you remove all the uneven porcelain tiles from the offending area. Don’t forget to clean up the mess afterward. Also, you can watch the following video to gain additional insight into this removal process, especially about following proper safety protocols:

Once you remove the offending porcelain tiles, place new units onto the same area. But don’t apply grout or sealant on them yet. This preparatory step aims to see if the subfloor is level so you can achieve the results you desire.

If the floor isn’t level yet, fix the underlying issue before proceeding. Continue this task by following the succeeding steps after ensuring that the surface is now flat:

What You’ll Need

  • Thinset mortar
  • Hand drill with mixer attachment
  • Latex additive
  • Trowel
  • Grout
  • Rubber mallet
  • Tile leveling system

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Mix the thinset mortar with a latex additive using the hand drill with the mixer attachment. Blend the mixture until you get a consistency similar to mayonnaise.
  2. Apply the mortar mixture to the flat surface using the trowel's flat edge.
  3. Set the tile on top of the mixture.
  4. Insert the clips included in the tile leveling system below the flooring material.
  5. Secure each clip between each tile to level to achieve an even surface.
  6. Let the tiles sit overnight.
  7. Use the rubber mallet to remove the clips from the tiles.
  8. Mix and apply a batch of fresh grout to the newly installed tiles.

Check out this tile leveling system on Amazon.

After completing the last part, make sure not to let anyone step on the new tiles for about 30 minutes. Then, wipe the excess grout with a damp sponge dipped in clean water.

You can also watch this video if you need help with using the tile leveling system:

What Causes Porcelain Floor Tiles To Lift Up?

Many suspects exist that can cause porcelain floor tiles to become uneven. Some of these possible culprits are:

  • Dropping heavy objects. Weighty items that fall on top of porcelain tiles may cause part of the flooring material to lift up from its mortar.
  • Improper installation. The tiles can lift from their setup if they don't mortar underneath is insufficient.
  • Natural calamities. In particular, earthquakes can shift the property’s foundation, causing the tiles to move from their original placements.
  • Moisture buildup. Significant wetness underneath the porcelain tiles may push the flooring material up, causing unevenness.
  • Epoxy usage. Removing other types of flooring might drag the porcelain tiles underneath because of high-strength epoxy.

Can You Tile A Slightly Uneven Floor?

Floor tiles installation,Home improvement, renovation, ceramic tile floor adhesive

It’s possible to lay porcelain tiles on uneven surfaces without promoting high risks of harm. But keep in mind that some hazards will remain if you wish to proceed with this tile installation route.

Some of the techniques you can use to achieve suitable results for this project are:

Use A Self-Leveling Compound

This product is ideal for creating a smooth and level surface over uneven subfloor materials like concrete and wood. It’s relatively easy to use, which shouldn’t promote worry for beginner DIY tile installers. However, ensure to wait 1 to 2 days for the leveling compound to dry and cure before proceeding with the rest of your tile installation operation.

Check out this self-leveling underlayment on Amazon.

Install Mosaic Tiles

Mosaic tiles can be a good choice for filling uneven surfaces since these materials generally bend or flex to fit the installation area. But take note that some mosaic tiles might be quite fragile. That means that you should pay extra caution in walking on top of these particular tiles.

Check out this set of mosaic tiles on Amazon.

Pound With A Rubber Mallet

If the unevenness is relatively minor, you can pound the tiles in place with a rubber mallet. Don't forget to pay attention to the flooring material as you're pounding it. It's because only hitting one side of a tile may cause the other areas to lift.

How Much Does It Cost To Repair Porcelain Tiles?

Installation of floor tiles, Ceramic tiles and different tools

The overall expenses to repair porcelain tiles often vary based on certain factors. But expect to spend about $10 to $65 per square foot to complete the process. Some of the elements that may affect the fees spent for this project are:

  • Location of the repair job (e.g., bathroom, kitchen, and swimming pool)
  • The severity of the damage
  • The difficulty of the task at hand

It’s also possible to save some money by doing some steps of the repair procedure using DIY techniques. For example, you can remove the offending tiles by yourself before requesting the help of industry experts.

Final Words

Professionals lay porcelain tiles on the floor in the bathroom

Generally, you still need to remove the uneven porcelain tiles before replacing them with new units. Also, make sure that the subfloor is flat to ensure the new tiles will be level. So follow the steps mentioned in this post to help remove some of the risks associated with your old porcelain tile flooring.