How to Seal Leaking Tile Grout

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Grout is a material placed into the joints between tiles to create a water-resistant tile surface. It prevents water from seeping through the tile joints into the subsurface and causing damage. If your grout is leaking, you must repair it as soon as possible. The process can be messy and time-consuming, but it's necessary to prevent further damage. If the leaking continues, it can spread and interfere with the binding of the tiles to the mounting surface, or cause permanent damage to the wall's substructure.

Things You'll Need

  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Sponge
  • Grout saw
  • Utility knife
  • Paper towels
  • Grout
  • Bucket
  • Grout float
  • Lint-free cloth
  • Grout sealant
  • Brush
  • Mix a solution of equal parts of vinegar and water. Wipe the solution with a sponge over the entire tiled surface, including the grout in the joints between the tiles. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes, then scrub the tiled surface with the sponge.

  • Examine the grout in the joints between the tiles to locate the leaking areas. Look for discolored grout that differs from surrounding grout. Run your fingers along the lines of grout to find any sections that feel spongy.

  • Remove the affected grout with a grout saw, a hand-held tool containing an offset blade designed to cut into the joints between tiles. Cut away the affected grout by sawing through the grout to the substrate.

  • Brush away the cut-out grout residue. Examine the wall to ensure you removed all the affected grout. Remove any bits of remaining grout with a utility knife. Wipe the surface carefully with a clean towel to remove any residue.

  • Mask off any surfaces adjacent to the area where you removed the grout. Remove any fixtures from the affected area with a screwdriver.

  • Mix some grout in a large bucket, according to the manufacturer's instructions. Pick up some of the grout with a grout float. Spread the grout into the emptied joints by pushing it over the surface of the tiles with the float. Fill the joints completely with grout.

  • Remove excess grout from the surface of the tiles within 15 minutes of application, using a damp sponge. Let the grout sit an additional 30 minutes.

  • Wipe the tiles with a lint-free cloth to remove all traces of grout residue that may otherwise dry into a dull haze on the tile. Wait two weeks for the grout to set.

  • Brush a penetrative tile and grout sealant over the grout lines. Allow the sealant to dry for 48 hours before using the tiled surface.

Tips & Warnings

  • Locate and repair the cause of the leak if it originates beneath the tile to prevent the leaky tile grout problem from recurring.
  • For a newer-looking wall or floor, remove all the grout from the surface and apply new grout.

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References

  • Photo Credit Boden image by Milosz Bartoszczuk from Fotolia.com
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