If you have tile in your bathroom, kitchen, or other area of your home, sooner or later you will want to know how to regrout it. And for good reason: Grout—that cement filler between your tiles—can get discolored or dirty, despite your best efforts to clean it. And over time, grout can break apart, leaving a crumbly mess that might also allow water to seep underneath and do some serious damage to your floor.
“Regrouting is necessary to reseal and restore the appearance of tile,” explains J.B. Sassano, president of Mr. Handyman, a repair service in Ann Arbor, MI.
Thankfully, as long as you’re dealing with straight grout lines and not mosaic-style tiles or stone, removing old grout and regrouting tile is a straightforward job that simply requires the right tools and step-by-step action plan.
Materials you’ll need
- Grout (premixed or dry)
- Grout sealer
Tools you’ll need
- Grout saw or oscillating tool
- Small trowel to mix grout
- Grout float
- Sponge and rags
How to remove existing grout
Step No. 1: You can get the job done with your choice of a couple of different tools. One option is a manual grout saw, which will require you to apply a bit of elbow grease. Or you can use an oscillating multitool with a carbide blade. Whichever tool you choose, the process for removal is the same.
“Cut away old grout, digging a minimum of one-eighth-inch deep for thin porcelain wall tile and deeper for thick, ceramic floor tile for the best adherence,” Sassano explains. “Be sure to avoid shaving down the tile.”
Step No. 2: Fully clear out the old grout, then sweep the area with a broom to remove dust and debris. Be sure to do a thorough removal, as leaving behind any remnants of the old grout could interfere with application of the new grout.
Step No. 3: Once you’ve removed the old grout, you can start prepping a new batch of the paste in a bucket. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
“The grout should be as thick as peanut butter,” says Sassano. “Pay special attention to matching the grout to the tile color. Or if you’re replacing tile grout in only one area, you’ll want to match the color to the ‘aged’ appearance of the existing grout.”
Step No. 4: You’ll want to get out the grout float, a hard rubber pad with a handle on one side, which serves as a tool to spread the stuff.
“Apply grout with the float, pushing it deep into the lines and making sure to cover all areas,” Sassano advises.
Step No. 5: “After grout is applied, wipe tiles clean with a damp sponge,” Sassano recommends. “Be sure to not let it dry before wiping away.”
You might also notice a thin layer of dried grout, which is called “grout haze.” This is a normal side effect of continuing to wipe away the grout with a soiled sponge. If you see it, you’ll need to wipe everything down, clean your water and sponges, and do it again, Sassano explains.
Once everything dries without haze, you’re done with the application part.
Step No. 6: Grout is porous, so once it’s fully dried, you should use a sealer as the final “top coat” to keep it looking clean and to prevent mold and bacteria from seeping in. Grout sealer comes in bottles that have a brush attached to the tip, so you can squeeze the bottle and brush on the sealer at the same time. For larger areas, grout sealer also comes in spray bottles: Just spray it all over and wipe up the excess with a sponge.
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