Grout is the cement mixture you see in the joints between ceramic or stone tiles. It is made from Portland cement and when it is dry, it is literally as hard as a rock. In some cases, however, this grout needs to be removed. For instance, sometimes it cracks or mildews and looks unsightly and you would like to replace it.
Or maybe you are changing your decor and would like to remove the old grout and replace it with new grout of a different color. Even worse, maybe your builder left grout hardening where you don’t want it. How do you remove it?
If you need to remove grout in order to replace it with new, better looking grout, there are special tools designed for this purpose. Some are electric, or you can just use a utility knife. It is important to replace grout as soon as you discover a problem, because it will spread mildew and decay to the wall behind the tiles if water is allowed to seep through the crack in the grout.
The first step is to saw the grout out carefully with a grout saw or other grout removal tool. It is important to get at least two-thirds of the old grout out when replacing with new grout. You can’t just grout over the old stuff and expect it to last. This is especially true when the tiled area is a wall.
Sawing out the grout will generate some dust. You can clean the dust and debris by vacuuming it up or wipe it away. Clean the area after sawing out the grout with a strong bleach solution to kill mildew and fungus. You can scrub with a green scrubbing pad, but not with a metal scouring pad or you will scratch your tile.
When the joints between the tiles are cleaned out and dry, you can replace the grout with new grout. It can be purchased either as a dry powder to which you add water, or you can get grout ready to use. Apply it carefully between the tiles and wipe away the excess.
When it is dry, be sure you apply grout sealer. This is a very important step to protecting the new surface. Grout sealer is usually a fairly safe substance that does not require any more than soap and water clean-up when you are done. Do give it time to dry and follow any instructions on the container.
Cleaning Grout that was Applied Badly
If you accidentally let some grout dry on the tiles you were installing yourself, or if the professional installers didn’t do a very good job, you may have grout clumped up and dried on the new tiles. If this is the case, you need to be careful how you clean it away because tile is easily scratched by sharp or metal tools. A flat stick of wood with a good crisp 90 degree edge makes a good scraper that should keep the tile from scratching.
While you are cleaning grout from tile, keep the area wet. Water helps to lubricate any sort of abrasive cleaning and offer a bit of protection against scratching.
A green scrubbing pad can be used as well. Wipe clean with a dry towel when finished. Always make sure your grout has been treated with anti-mildew cleaners and sealed. Without sealer, grout tends to accumulate germs and dirt and is quite porous.
See Also: Grout Haze Removal