Grout is not something we often think about when we are in the bathroom, and it is only when it becomes grimy that we really start to notice it’s there. Usually, by this point, the grout is past the point of no return, and it needs to be fully removed and replaced in order to be fully functional as well as look good.
It’s not always the most convenient task, but it is fairly simple to complete, and with the help of this handy guide we have compiled for you, we are sure you’ll be able to undertake the task with no problem. It’s time to get the tools out and learn how to replace your tile grout.
Why Do This?
Before we get into why you should replace your tile grout, you should first check to see if it can be salvaged at all, as this will reduce your workload and means that you won’t need to go through with the whole removing and replacing process.
If your grout has mould on it, there are several ways you can clean it – using a chemical mould killer or natural solutions – and we have a great little guide that covers the various cleaning methods for you to read.
Before you head over to our grout cleaning page, here is a quick rundown of some of the natural methods you can use when you’re wondering how to clean grout in showers:
However, if your shower grout is so mouldy that chemical and natural solutions no longer work, removal and replacement may be the only way to go. The black mould that grows in bathrooms can be damaging to your health, and for those who have asthma and allergies, it can even lead to hospitalisation.
If you have brown mould, it is likely that there is a leak behind your tiles, and you should not undertake any re-grouting work until this has been repaired. What are the other reasons you might remove your grout?
If your grout is chipping or crumbling, it needs to be removed and replaced because it is no longer watertight, and it also looks unappealing. It may also be because the grout was not applied properly in the first place, and so a new application will be able to fix the issue.
Further Reading: Tips for Fitting a Shower Screen
One key thing to remember when putting new grout in is to make sure that you do not leave any holes when you are finished as this can let water through, causing mould and also the tiles to become loose. You may also want to change the colour of the grout, and for this to happen it will usually need to be completely replaced.
There are loads of different grout colours available, so you may find yourself surprised by the selection provided. Sometimes, it is possible to colour the existing grout, but this method is far less effective than taking the time to replace it.
How to Soften Grout for Removal
A lot of the time you will find that you don’t need to soften the grout before removal, but sometimes it will have set incredibly hard and be difficult to get rid of – especially if it has solidified on a hard surface.
When this happens, there are a few different methods you can use in order to soften it up a little so that it is easier to scrape out. We have each of them listed below:
Once the grout has been softened, you can move onto the next stage of the process; the actual removal. In the sections below, you will be able to learn more about the ways you can remove grout both with hand tools and powered ones.
Grout Removal Tools
If you want to remove the grout in your bathroom by hand, you will need a tool known as a grout rake. While quite small, it has been specifically designed for this task, and most models will come with replaceable blades so that you can use it for years to come.
It might seem like using this tool will become a very time-consuming task, but actually, it doesn’t take that long at all. Generally speaking, these tools are very affordable, so you won’t need to spend a lot on your new grout rake.
There are also some models that will allow you to fit two blades so that work with tiles that have large gaps, and therefore a lot more grout to remove. They can also mark your tiles and scratch them if not used carefully, so make sure you don’t rush during the removal process. Even when you are taking your time, the whole thing is still pretty quick.
How do you use the grout rake though? Here are the quick and simple steps:
#1 Place the grout rake in the joint, and push it gently into the grout. It should not be more than 2mm in the grout to be effective.
#2 Move the rake up and down while applying gentle force. You will see the powder start to drop as it is loosened.
#3 Repeat the above step until the whole joint is clear, and then move onto the next section.
Also Read: Best Silicone Sealant for Showers
Grout Removal Power Tools
Large areas are often impractical to clear if you are using hand tools, and power tools are the best option in cases like this. It will take less time, and still do an excellent job keeping everything clear.
However, when you are using power tools, you should make sure that you wear safety goggles to avoid any dust or debris getting in your eyes. You should also take things slowly, as rushing and slipping could result in destroying entire tiles.
The best thing to do before you undertake the entire bathroom is to practice with the tools on an unseen area. That way, if there is any damage to the tile, it will not be noticed, and you get the chance to learn how to control the tools properly.
There are also loads of different tools you can choose from as well, some of which were designed to deal with grout. However, these are expensive and only really used by professionals – which is why a multitool will do the job perfectly.
What you will need:
#1 Fit the tool with a blade that has been specially designed for dealing with grout removal. Then, hold the tool up to the grout (horizontally or vertically, depending on the joint you are working on) and switch it on, gently pressing the tool into the grout. The blade will be able to get through the grout without you forcing it, so be careful.
#2 Once the joint is clear, angle the tool so that it can work on the next one following the same method as the previous step. As you continue to work on the grout, your arm may start to get tired. If this is the case, you can rest it on your toolbox while you work to keep everything steady.
#3 Now that all the joints have been cleared using the power tool, you can remove the excess that is stuck using a flathead screwdriver. Make sure the head fits in the joints and then use it to scrape the stubborn chunks of grout out. Don’t remove everything though; the next step helps with this.
#4 Take the blunt Stanley knife and use it to get the little bits that are left in the joint out. The dulled blade is better for this, but it also removes the risk of the sharp point snapping off and potentially causing you injury.
Once these steps are complete, you can move onto actually replacing the grout with new stuff.
Grout Removal with Chemicals
If you have really tough grout, there is also the option to use chemicals in order to remove it. It’s also really easy to get your hands on some, as you can find it in your local hardware store or a specialist tile shop.
Most of these places have it available to order on their websites as well, but be careful not to mix it up with grout cleaner as this won’t have the effect you are looking for.
Removing grout with chemicals will make the grout incredibly soft and easy to take out, but you will still need a hand tool to remove the chunks smoothly. You should also remember to wear gloves and old clothes, as well as safety goggles, because getting chemical remover in your eyes could have painful results.
Continually Vacuum Grout Work During and After
When you are removing the grout from the tiles, you will find it creates a lot of mess and dust. This can obscure your vision, and may lead to you accidentally damaging your tiles or wall because you cannot see where everything is.
This is why you should use the vacuum cleaner almost constantly when you are removing grout. It will get rid of the dust and debris, leaving your work area clean and making sure that you are able to see what you are doing at all times. Vacuuming also means that each of the joints is completely clear, ready for new grout.
How to Apply New Grout
The application of new grout is actually a lot easier than the removal process. It does need care and attention, which means a slow and steady pace works best. Instead of listing instructions, we have included a fantastic video that will teach you all about what you need, how to apply the new grout, and finishing it off.
Can you put new grout on top of old grout?
It is possible to grout over existing grout if there is enough depth to do so. 1/8 inch depth may or may not be adequate depending on the type of grout used. A latex modified grout may work, but you have to properly clean the existing grout to ensure the new grout adequately bonds.
Hopefully, this guide has been able to take you through the various methods you can use for grout removal so that you can get your bathroom back to looking spectacular.
Whether you are undertaking the task by hand or using power tools, there is definitely a way for you to get the work done with minimal stress and hassle.
What did you think of our guide to grout removal? Did it help you to give your bathroom the makeover it needed, or did you feel it was missing something? We love hearing from you, so make sure to leave us a message in the comments below.