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You don't have to become a `Dr. Fixit' to repair tiles

If you think you need a Ph.D. to fix a "wounded" ceramic-tile floor, wall or countertop, think again. These home remedies are some first aid you can apply yourself, without the expense of a "house call."

- When an entire tile pops out of place, just butter the back with aid tile adhesive using a notched trowel. Press the tile into place, let aid dry, and regrout the joints.- For more involved jobs - broken tiles or replacing more than one tile - if you don't have any on hand, take a sample to your local dealer to try to find a close match. Or remove an entire row of tiles and install a new colorful border. To make larger repairs, follow these steps:

1. To replace a cracked tile, first remove the surrounding grout using an old screwdriver. Be careful not to chip or mar adjacent tiles.

2. Free the tile by prying it loose with a screwdriver inserted into a hold you've drilled with a carbide-tip bit. If that fails, use a hammer and chisel. Then scrape, chip off or chemically remove the old adhesive and grout.

3. If a replacement tile must be cut, a glass cutter and straightedge work well. To trim tiles to irregular shapes, score the surface, then make the break with tile nippers or pliers.

4. To affix the new tile, spread adhesive on its back with a notched trowel, and press the tile in place.

5. Force grout into the joint spaces with a sponge or a rubber-face trowel; after 10 to 15 minutes, run a rounded toothbrush handle or a moistened finger along the joints. Scrub off excess grout with a wet sponge, repeatedly rinsing the sponge and wringing it out.