How To Conceal Damaged Tile

Sometimes I go crazy and I demo stuff without really thinking too hard about what I’ll do after the demo dust clears. See, for some reason when I stopped and stared at all those crazy towel racks in our hall bathroom for the five hundredth time…

… I decided it was time to get the hammer and take a stand. Because who really needs that many towel bars? And who decided to put that one on the left so crazy off-centered below the window so it would protrude halfway out of the shower curtain? Especially when there’s room for a cute little hand towel ring on the un-tiled wall next to the sink near the doorway.

Can you tell that wonky half-under-the-window towel bar especially bugged me? Yeah I took it personally. So I took a minute to inspect the towel rods and decided that the ones in the shower weren’t that bad since they’d be hidden by a shower curtain 99.9% of the time (once we actually hung one). And I noticed that they all seemed to be adhered on top of the tile instead of inset in it (meaning if I could carefully chisel them off I might be able to save the tile under them for a completely seamless look). So I decided to say goodbye to that annoying off-centered bar under the window first. You know, since he was my least favorite towel bar in the history of the universe.

I very carefully chiseled it ever so softly with a flat head screwdriver and a hammer. Tap… tap…

… crap. The bar holders came off pretty easily. But they weren’t stuck on top of the tile like I hoped. They were inset. Boo. So I was left with two highly visible boo-boos that looked a little something like this:

Cue the nausea. John didn’t even know what I was up to (surprise). I was banking on a “look what I did – doesn’t it look better?” reveal. You know, as opposed to an “oops I ruined the original 60’s tile that we definitely planned to work with” reveal.

But as I stood there picturing baked potatoes (an insane anti nausea method that I honed during 100 straight days of morning sickness while prego with Clara) I assured myself that we could probably semi easily hunt down two replacement tiles and just Dremmel out those ruined ones for a pretty flawless repair. But the longer I stared at my mistake, the more I realized there was a much easier fix. At least for one of the holes. Let’s rewind a little. Look closely at the window. Do you notice anything odd about it?

Why was there trim around the sides and the top, but not along the bottom? If we added some simple white wood trim down there it would probably look a heackova lot more balanced and it would cover one of my two glaringly obvious tile gaffes. We had also been meaning to hang the shower rod up near the ceiling with another one of our favorite super long 95″ waffle shower curtains, which would end up draping right in front of the other tile hole (yes, “tile hole” is a technical term) and completely obscuring it whether it was open or closed (since we push it towards the window when open, so it would still hide my dirty little tile secret in the open position as well as the closed one). Although it’s not a forever solution like adding trim, it’s definitely a will-do-until-we-find-a-matching-tile-later solution.

So I sheepishly padded down the hall wearing my best oops-I-went-crazy expression (humming “Oops I Did It Again” for effect) and requested some help adding “a tiny bit of trim and re-hanging the shower rod at ceiling height” so I could string up our new 95″ curtain (we ordered it from a while back but hadn’t hung it yet). John was the man. He was pretty quiet (a sure sign that he wasn’t exactly ecstatic) but he didn’t give me the stink eye or anything. Instead he got to work fixing my mess while I stood in the background holding the baby and flattering him with stupidity like “you look great in that hat” and “nobody hangs trim like you, babe.” I managed to even get a little smirk with that last one. As for what John specifically did, first he removed the tiny piece of faux trim that looked sort of like shoe molding under the windowsill by prying it out with a flat head screwdriver (a mini crowbar would also work).

Then he cut a piece of trim that we already had in our scrap pile by looking at other windows in the house and mimicking the shape (straight down on each side with a small 45 degree diagonal bottom corner cut which he made using a miter box). He attached it with small finish nails which he hammered in at an angle towards the sill, using a small metal nail punch (which drives the nails in while keeping the trim from getting dented by the hammer).

About twenty minutes and zero bucks later any evidence of my moment of madness was completely unidentifiable. And we were left with this (I even painted the new trim piece with leftover trim paint that I found in the basement thanks to the previous owners):

Oh yeah, and if you wonder why this next picture is so white, John took it. And he remembered to white balance first. See, sometimes when I’m going crazy and demoing something I forget to white balance before taking pics. I contend that this is an honest mistake. I mean in a state of demo mania, you can hardly be expected to remember how to use the complicated camera, can you? Anyway, the shower curtain and tile is pure white (along with the walls, the sink, the toilet, etc) so this shot’s coloring is the most true to life:

I know it seems like a stretch to act like my big tile “incident” was a good thing. And I might be in complete denial. But I think the window looks a lot better with that trim on the bottom, so that will definitely stay for life. And of course the whole “hide the other tile hole with a shower curtain” isn’t ideal, but once we hunt down a replacement tile it’ll be fixed for realsies. Best of all, our bathroom no longer has that crazy off centered towel bar that annoyed me from the hallway every single time I walked by. And I ask you, who the heck would want their hand towel grazing the toiler paper dispenser anyway?

I rest my case. Hooray crazy.

Psst- Wanna know what that silver nozzle next to the toilet tank is? Check this out.

Psssst- Clara is officially less than two months away from her first birthday. Crazytown. Which means we’re starting to think about how we’ll plan her cute little DIY b-day party. We’re spilling a few of our just-starting-out ideas (and sniffing around for not-your-first-birthday-rodeo advice) over on BabyCenter today, so feel free to drop in and sound off.


  1. says

    Thanks so much for this “Oops!” Moment… I’m sure it makes us all feel a little better about those “What was I thinking?” accidents.

    Also, I wanted to throw a thanks your way for the totally awesome silhouette inspiration from this post of yore:
    I am in the middle of a similar project on my blog ( and cant wait to show off the results.

    Y’all are the best!

  2. says

    I know EXACTLY how you must have felt staring at that towel bar. It happened to me about a year ago. I’m still working on my fix, but that’s mostly due to the awful wallpaper that stands between me and freshly painted walls (among the 1000 other projects going on). Just ordered some industrial adhesive stuff so hopefully I’ll be seeing my own After very soon! Great solution to your little tile snafu, and I love that you’re keeping the original tile.

  3. says

    My hubby totally would’ve given me the stink eye, but I, too, would’ve gotten a smirk from him when I commented he was the best ever at trimming a window. Makes me want a new house to mess around with – and mess is what I’d do! (We’re not doing anymore DIY on this one.) My bff has done quite a bit on her fixer-upper, though. Fun! Ethne

  4. katie says

    The trim looks good! When is Clara’s b-day? I am due May 6th. It has been fun to watch her grow up this year & see all the fun we have to look forward to! :)

    • says

      May 14th is her actual b-day… and it falls on a Saturday so we’ll have the party that day! By the way, there’s nothing better than having a baby in May. I might be partial, but it’s just great to enjoy the spring and summer outside while pushing a tiny sleeping baby around for some fresh air (and trying to work off the baby weight- haha).


    • says

      We had our little boy on May 3rd of last year (so he’s just a smidge older than Clara). May babies are the best! We had it so easy with shorts and onesies. We’ve watched my best friend deal with her winter baby (born during a blizzard no less) and thanked our lucky stars! We didn’t have to deal with extra layers and coats during the early constant-diaper-changing and spit-up phase.

    • erika m says

      May 6th was my due date with my first…a boy.. he’ll be 5 this year though-and was born 2 weeks early @ april 22. Flies by …best wishes with your little one!

    • Erin C. says

      I am due on May 23rd. I can’t wait to go for some walks with our little guy in the park!

    • katie says

      You guys are right about May! I can’t wait to push the stroller around outside, and so glad I won’t need to deal with all those layers.
      Other pluses I have heard for later on: still in school to bring in birthday treats, and lots of fun summer birthday presents (bike, swimsuits…)
      And Sherry, I also lived on baked potatoes for 4 months!

  5. says

    I just love when you show these types of Oops moment! You keep it so true, really inspire us fellow DIYers to go ahead and not be afraid. Love the quick fix. The window definitely looks much more balanced. Are you keeping that black border, or goint to paint it white?

    • says

      We’re planning to at least try to work with the black border, which we actually think could be a cool little graphic touch after we get the right window shade and paint the walls and bring in some art and other “contrast” so it’s not the only thing you see!


  6. says

    At least it looks a lot better now.

    But I am curious – living in Sweden, that would not be recommended at all, because once you break the “seal” of the bathroom, all insurances might be void because of the risk of water getting beneath the tile.

    Did you do anything with the remaining whole or did you just leave it there?

    • says

      Hey Ever,

      We’re planning to use thick and shiny ceramic tile touch up paint to “seal” the porous little square of mortar that’s now hiding behind the curtain. Just until we get around to a full tile replacement of course! It shouldn’t get wet at all since it’s covered by the fabric and liner (and we only use that bathroom to bathe Clara, nobody showers in there) but we’re better-safe-than-sorry geeks, so we’ll definitely do that asap!


  7. says

    Maybe the previous owners had a towel fetish? lol Whatever the case wow! all in one washroom. Love the work with the trim. Wish I had a handy dandy like John *sighs*.

  8. says

    I thought I was the only weirdo that did the baked potato thing! Thanks for making me feel less strange.

    And I learned on an episode of CSI that smiling helps control your gag reflex. It totally works.

  9. says

    I just did the same thing in our kitchen! I think demo just makes a girl to anxious and excited to fully think it through. It feels good to rip stuff down! I convinced my husband to help me take cabinets down and rip our backsplash off last weekend while our little peanut was down for her nap. Pop over to my blog to check out my adventures in kitchen demolition!

    Keep up the good work!

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